Thread of Continuity for the Multi-Generational Workforce: Think V.E.T. (Value, Engagement, Trust)

This past week, I had the privilege of attending two very distinct, yet related events here in the Greater Nashville area.  The first occurrence was a statewide human resources conference, centered in the healthcare industry vertical.  To conclude the week, enjoyed a dinner at a local college campus honoring military students.  Allow me to tie these episodes together.

At the HR Healthcare conference, there were several great speakers that shared insights during 10+ hours of formal meetings.   One of the speakers was an Assistant Professor from Vanderbilt University, Dayle Savage.  Having seen her speak formally several times, I have always found her to be dynamic, intelligent and relevant. 

On Saturday evening, I was able to attend Belmont University’s inaugural Veterans Welcome Dinner.  It was wonderful to hear from a great American and true leader of character, Lieutenant General (Retired) Keith Huber.  His remarks were very much appropriate for a diverse audience: academics, university administrators, business leaders and newly arrived military students.

Multi-Generational Workforce

Analyzing these two sets of remarks leads me to an acronym.  Allow me to share some thoughts, utilizing the letters of V, E and T. 

1. Value: Every employee, soldier, student or patient wants to be respected.  Each person wants to be appreciated for their unique set of skills, talents and abilities.  Whether fresh out of a four year university or after twenty (or more) years of distinguished service in the US Military, every individual wants to feel important.

As Dr. Savage so eloquently stated, people in business are more alike than they are different.  Today’s media makes it easy to highlight our differences.  As a “Generation X” individual, my peers (and I) tend to value autonomy, flexibility and challenging work.  My hypothesis is that many others in all age brackets would be in directional agreement.

From the youngest Millennial to the most seasoned Baby Boomer at the office, almost all of us want to feel like our work matters.  Again, we are more similar than sometimes we care to admit to one another.  Relationships matter and they take time to build at the office.

2. Engagement: This is so critical in today’s world of never ending data, distractions and dilemmas.  How can leaders articulate a vision that will resonate across their organization (or as we say in the military – “across the formation”).  Compelling both the minds, hearts and spirits is essential in the military; in the business world, it is important as well.  Incremental effort, applied consistently over time, makes a good company a great one.

In today’s modern military, the younger soldiers and sailors want to know why as much as the what and the how.  With only about 1% of Americans ever wearing the uniform, the old autocratic, militant culture of barking orders is fading away.  Military leaders ask more than they order subordinates to accomplish tasks and missions as LTG Huber mentioned in his recent remarks.

3. Trust: This is the foundation of everything.  Business in the late 1800s and early 1900s was as simple as a handshake – “your word was your bond.”  Today, it seems as if everything must be in writing (or it simply never happened).  In the American military, our young men and women believe that their chain of command has their best interests at heart.  Honor and integrity are the bedrocks of all of the Armed Forces.   As Lieutenant Huber stated the other night, “People allow you the privilege to lead them.”  In Corporate America, that altruistic concept is forgotten more often than not, especially in your large organizations.

In closing, working/serving in any organization can be daunting at times.  My encouragement to you is to remember that each person is important and that “Together Everyone Achieves More: TEAM.”

 Martin Plumlee is the Founder and Co-Owner of Plumlee & Associates, a Career Partners International Firm, based in Nashville and Franklin, TN.  His fifteen years in business, with expertise in executive search and leadership development affords him unique insights on success principles in organizations of all types and sizes.  Contact information: / @PlumleeAssoc on Twitter. 

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