Eight Questions Chapter 1: One Size Does Not Fit All (Conclusion)

J. Keith Hughey

Founder

Volume XXI, Number 3 (Issue 1007) January 16, 2023

Eight Questions

Chapter 1: One Size Does Not Fit All (Conclusion)

Some of the literature and supporting research on the topic of managing a multi- generational workforce suggests the differing generations can learn to appreciate, if not instinctively value, the qualities and characteristics of each generation that makes up their team. The same research tells us the task of orchestrating that substantial cohesion when it is not organic falls to the manager of those diverse teams. In short, it is the manager’s job to facilitate bridge building whenever the team members are incapable of achieving solidarity on their own. I won’t dispute the latter point. However, I find it a bit Pollyannish to expect some/most/all managers to possess the requisite power skills needed to bring a collection of people with differing norms into something we call a “team.” That is not to say such skills cannot be taught. It can be especially challenging if the overarching expectation is the team will leverage all the talent that resides within their group without the benefit of transformative leadership.

It is possible. But not necessarily probable. Lasting success therefore requires some intervention. That is essential if the team’s collective talents are to be purposefully brought to bear on the team’s objectives.

Many years ago, I came across what I believe to be the absolute best definition of a team that I have ever read. Offered in the book, Deep Change, by Robert Quinn (Jossey-Bass, 1996), that definition states:

An effective team is
An enthusiastic set of competent people who
have clearly defined roles,
associated in a common activity,
working cohesively in trusting relationships, exercising personal discipline, and
making individual sacrifices for the good of the team.”

The unfortunate state of many of our most basic models is we focus far too much attention on people’s weaknesses. The upshot is we undermine people’s confidence while we spend enormous amounts of time and energy trying to “fix” them to make them better. I am not arguing people are incapable of learning. Far from it. But

while we can learn things, skills, and techniques, it is harder to alter or change someone’s personality or ask them to disassociate from or renounce long held beliefs. Thus, we can “fix” things, but it is next to impossible to fix people – not at their core, barring professional intervention or better living through chemistry.

Accordingly, if you want to lead a diverse team, start by getting to know their individual strengths. Make sure each team member knows their and their fellow team members’ strengths as well as the implications of those gifts. Then, design their roles so each team member and the team as a group can play to their strengths most of the time. Also be sure to celebrate their individual and collective accomplishments. Conversely, individual shortcomings can never be allowed to take center stage or be used as a source or excuse for blame. Finally, give the team a destination and a bit of a roadmap to help them get started.

If you will do those and a handful of other things, I believe you will be amazed at what a collection of individuals from diverse generations can achieve.

Coming up, Chapter Two: Performance Management and Coaching

Soli Deo Gloria

From whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.Ephesians 4:16

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Transforming Potential into Unmatched Performance
Copyright 2023 by J. Keith Hughey. All rights reserved. Permission is hereby granted for reproduction and redistribution of this essay as provided under the copyright laws of the United States of America. The entire early library of Monday Morning Musings issues may be found at www.jkeithhughey.com. Your comments are welcome and encouraged.

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