Forbes Coaches Council Member

CEOs Discuss Strategies for Leading a Multi-Gen Workforce

In another sold out CEO Forum, three, amazing CEOs–Ken Alterman, SAVERS/Value Village, Kimberly Harris, Puget Sound Energy and Kevin Klock, Talking Rain–shed light on their biggest challenges, mistakes and takeaways from leading a multi-generational workforce.

One of the reasons I chose this topic is because a former colleague of mine said that all this talk about Millennials and their influence is making her feel like if you’re over 35 your skills and experience are not valued. That inspired me to reach out to these three, seasoned CEOs, and hear how their leading through the challenges and dynamics of a multi-gen workforce. I wondered if their thinking has changed when it comes to hiring, benefits, promotions, mentorship and retention.

Here’s a quick summary of what we learned:

“Most people are capable of achieving more than they think.  As leaders, we should know our people – who they are and what they care about. That’s when we have the chance to really achieve the unexpected.” – Ken Alterman.

“It’s proven that INCLUSION builds innovation, creativity and better decision-making – we should engage everyone by creating an environment where people feel valued, respected and appreciated.” – Kimberly Harris

“Leaders should embrace and leverage the benefits of having different personalities and worldviews. We need to recognize and understand the strengths and passions of individuals on our teams, and leverage their unique skill sets.” – Kevin Klock

And the Twitter highlights:

Most important leadership quality? @PSETalk: authenticity; @SaversVVillage: trustworthiness; @talkingrain: collaboration. @CEOpov

Loved the “lightening round” of questions. A great way to gain insight into the speakers’ hearts and minds. #WTCSeattle #CEOpov

“You need curious people in the workforce that want to continue learning.” Ken Alterman, @SaversVVillage #WTCSeattle 

“You don’t learn from success. You learn from failure.” — Kimberly Harris, CEO, @PSETalk #WTCSeattle

“Love to win or hate to lose?” All 3 CEOs say “love to win.” #WTCSeattle #CEOpov

“As a CEO, you’re either teaching, tolerating or terminating.” Kimberly Harris, @PSETalk #WTCSeattle  #ceopov

“When #millennials jump from company to company, it’s often b/c they didn’t have a sponsor, someone truly invested in them.” — Ken Alterman

Taking time off to be a part of the community is very important to this generation. — Kevin Klock, CEO, @talkingrain #WTCSeattle

@CEOpov @WTCSeattle Kimberly Harris, CEO of PSE, is smart & savvy. I’m thrilled to see this high quality leader at the utility. #WTCSeattle

“You need 3 levels of hierarchy to support a change in a company.” Ken Alterman, @SaversVVillage #WTCSeattle #ceopov

“Experience” takes a long time and you can’t learn it on the Internet. Harris from @PSETalk about the millennial generation. #WTCSeattle

“60% of US companies today face a leadership talent shortage.” – @CEOpov #WTCSeattle #CEOpov #Business

“Millennials are going to have 38 different jobs.” Woah. @CEOpov #WTCSeattle #Millennials

If you think you have all the answers, you’re not using your team. — Kimberly Harris, CEO, @PSETalk  #WTCSeattle  #CEOpov

And from Facebook:

“Exceptional panel discussion today – CEOs from 3 companies with really different employee bases each comprised of Boomers, GenXers and Millennials in the mix. Top 3 take aways for me were Ken Alterman talking about recognizing the potential in every person; Kimberly Harris highlighting the benefits of ‘failures’ as a place to learn the most and course correct; and a practice at Talking Rain that Kevin Klock shared …Career Reviews every trimester in place of the annual performance review. Great way to turn the perspective around and check in. Also liked to hear the description of their millennial workforce as ‘purpose driven, inclusive, curious, community oriented, fearless when it comes to change’ I know that is how I think about our team and I am impressed by their CAN DO attitudes everyday!”

Mark your calendar for Thursday, October 13, when CEOs from Holland America, Sur La Table and Geekwire take the stage. We’ll be discussing “What Leaders Need to Do About Diversity.”

For more from our conversation, follow on Twitter here. Also, thank you to our video sponsor, Regence. Stay tuned for video coverage of this event coming soon!

Find more CEO advice in my book “From the CEO’s Perspective where I interview 20 top CEOs on how they are developing leaders in today’s world.

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