This edition of Generational Viewpoints features two professionals from Mazars USA (www.mazars.com), a 900-person firm with locations worldwide. We asked Gen X tax senior manager Lauren Reo, born in 1973, and Millennial audit senior John Confrey, born in 1990, to share their perspectives on the following question: “What requests do you have of the other two generations in the firm to maximize firm success?”
REO’S GEN X VIEWPOINT
With new technology and changes in the thinking of younger generations, the way we work is also evolving rapidly. I ask Baby Boomers to embrace these technology advancements and the freedom they allow. Listen to the younger generations’ ideas, share yours in return and brainstorm —this is where innovation happens.
With the ability to work from anywhere, the days of spending 14 hours sitting at a desk in an office “burning the midnight oil” are gone. Flexibility and remote work can bring the best out of our people and we should all embrace that ability, while also treating it as a privilege. Baby Boomer leaders, you must show support for these flexibility initiatives so that people feel able to take advantage of them and become more effective in their productivity.
Baby Boomer leaders should also be careful to follow firm procedures. A lot of thought, analysis and time went into creating and implementing them to improve efficiency firmwide. Failing to follow our processes can create major inefficiencies and unnecessary frustration. It also teaches the younger generations that it’s acceptable to do whatever they want, regardless of agreed-upon procedures in place. Tone starts at the top.
Lastly, plan ahead, communicate and have respect for the value of other people’s time. Hold tight to those core values when handling recruitment and retention. Provide people with honest feedback in a timely manner. We can’t develop into strong team members if we don’t discuss where we can improve. Constructive feedback is a gift.
For Millennials — I appreciate your ambition and desire to progress quickly. The path to achieving that progression is two-way. It requires gaining experience and the education needed to develop, learn, grow, make mistakes and build connections. It requires listening and watching the successful leaders around you. It’s important to have awareness and understanding of what prior generations did to build and maintain the successful business where you’re employed, and that some of these ideals still apply and have value.
CONFREY’S MILLENNIAL VIEWPOINT
Baby Boomers — as the most experienced generation in the workforce, it is your opportunity and obligation to pass along your knowledge to the generations succeeding yours. Sharing stories of the challenges you have faced and the triumphs you’ve achieved is imperative to our future success as a team. Be willing to listen, prompt critical discussion, and lead conversations in a way that ensures each party is actively engaged.
Don’t be afraid of change. Where Millennials lack experience, they have the potential to make up for it in innovation. Millennials have a “fresh” perspective and proximity to the latest information. Understanding the overarching idea of an innovation, even when you may not have complete understanding of the details, can be enough to assist in its cultivation and support firm growth.
Some ideas may appear radical from your perspective, but realize that Millennials and Generation Xers may be able to implement new strategies that could ultimately transform the firm and sustain it well into the future. Your experience is an incredibly valuable resource for the firm. If we can learn from the past, while simultaneously implementing advances, we can more quickly achieve the level of success we all desire.
As the Generation X workforce progresses to top-level management, I ask that you remember the path you took to get there. To promote success, it is important to bring out the best in individuals and to ensure that their growth is not hindered. Think back on which obstacles shaped you (as opposed to those that simply frustrated you), and try to help Millennials avoid those frustrating obstacles. Also, be open to sharing management roles with our generation. Advancement shouldn’t be awarded only for tenure, but instead for skills and abilities. Do not become complacent with the innovations that you helped achieve. Be aware that new ideas are constantly being developed, and if we are stuck with yesterday’s innovations, we may fall behind tomorrow.
This column is facilitated and edited by Brianna Johnson, the Millennial consultant, and Jennifer Wilson, the Baby Boomer co-founder and partner, of ConvergenceCoaching LLC, a leadership and management consulting and coaching firm that helps leaders achieve success. To have your firm’s generational viewpoints considered for a future Accounting Tomorrow column, e-mail them at firstname.lastname@example.org.