February 2012

Phyllis Weiss Haserot

Phyllis Weiss Haserot, dubbed the "cross-generational voice," is a panelist at the Febr. 13 Cocktails & Conversations event Bridging the Generation Gap: Reaching Baby Boomers, Gen X and Millennials. She is president of Practice Development Counsel, a consulting and coaching firm that zeroes in on improving working relationships among generations with the goals of higher profits, better productivity, stronger client retention, more effective succession planning and better business development.

"It's about transforming frustrating, inefficient inter-generational relationships mired in lack of understanding and miscommunication into productive collaborations," said Phyllis, "where everyone believes they are being heard, understood and respected."

How many generations? "There are four generations in the workplace, which is my focus now, and five generations if we are talking about consumers."

Boomers versus Gen Yers "The younger generations underestimate the Boomers' tech savvy and interest in social media as well as the value of interpersonal wisdom and nonverbal communication cues. Older generations often mistake the Gen Yers' habit of asking questions as a challenge to them, rather than appreciating the Gen Yers for asking and the value of the questions themselves."

Recession fallout "Given the competition for fewer positions, the ongoing economic downturn has made relations between the Gen Xers and Boomers more intense. Many organizations are ignoring this fact and the value of knowledge transfer between employees with different levels of experience."

The next big thing "I have considered age diversity the next big challenge in the workplace for at least 10 years. That view is gaining traction, because we recognize now that high engagement of all the generations leads to a more productive workplace. Some issues increasing in significance are the trend of older people reporting to younger managers and the lack of succession planning for all critical positions."

3 F's "Fascinating, fun, future (I am a congenital optimist).  "People are fascinating, and so is my work. People come first, but the work needs to be fun for them and for me. I always look to the future and to change, but the perspective that comes from awareness of the past and context is essential."
— As told to Michelle Lodge