The Ongoing Demographic Challenge: Bringing Boomer Managers and Generation Y Together

Generalizations about the various cohorts in the workplace today (Traditionalists, Boomers, Generation X and Generation Y) result in stereotypical views by each cohort of the members of the other cohorts. Understanding what defines each of these cohorts and their stereotypes will help members of these cohorts learn to work together more effectively by reducing the misunderstandings and conflict that arises. Demographic research tells us approximately 40% of the management and senior level positions in our organizations are held by Boomers and that currently 50% of the employees in the workforce are Boomers, so this stereotype is fairly well developed. As the decade progresses, this dominant cohort will be replaced by the next largest cohort, Generation Y, two workplace generations behind Boomers. This creates a workplace (defined as all places where work – profit and not for profit work is done) of misunderstanding and conflict if not addressed by organizational leaders.To further clarify the ongoing demographic challenge, let’s first look at the stereotypes.The Boomer Stereotype:
I am a member of the baby boomer cohort, those born between 1947 and 1966. This means I was raised during the 1950’s and 60’s and, in general terms, I am a member of the generation whose moral and political orientation (during their formative years) was significantly affected by the birth control pill and the Vietnam War.I entered the workforce as a highly educated professional during the 1980’s. I have held many management and leadership positions during the past thirty years and I love to work. I define myself by the work I do, hence; retirement is not in my immediate future.I was born into an affluent society – an abundant, healthy economy – where post secondary education was open to all those interested. I achieved two degrees and still, to this day, I like to see these degrees highlighted on my CV. I work to live and live to work so it makes perfect sense that my work defines me, my self worth and my view of others’ self worth. I expect others to have the same work ethic as I do.My working style is competitive so I am results-focused, I like to set goals and then action plans to achieve those goals. I expect to be rewarded for goal achievement and I am career driven, seeking regular promotions. My work defines me so, of course, I am very interested in job security.When it comes to my communication skills, I am considered a digital immigrant which means I had to learn email, internet, and social media on the job, as an adult. I prefer face to face communication but I have learned the value of digital discourse and accept it as part of the ongoing business experience.As I progress toward retirement, I am interested in continuing to live a results-oriented life with results focused around my personal goals – travel, health and wellness and, spending time with my grandchildren.Today, as I continue to function as a manager and leader in the workforce, my biggest challenge is the newest entrant – Generation Y or Milennials. Within less than a decade, my cohort will have decreased in size by 50% and Generation Y will have increased by 100%. They will become the dominant cohort in the workplace, replacing my cohort as the managers and business leaders for 2020 and beyond. And herein lies the ongoing demographic challenge.

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They are not like me!The Generation Y Stereotype:
Generation Y are members of the cohort born between 1980 and 1995. This means they were raised by baby boomer parents – parents who belong to the dominant societal cohort, a cohort that likes to spend well and live well. Generation Y has a close relationship with these boomer parents and will spend a significant part of their early adult years back at home with their parents. Their generational markers are defined by technology, specifically mobile technology and social media.They, like the boomers, have been born into an affluent society – an abundant, healthy economy – where post secondary education is open to all those interested. Most have achieved at least one degree, many have achieved more. But they do not define themselves by the work they do. The line between their personal and professional lives is blurred and their self-worth comes from how they are viewed by their friends and colleagues. They are collegial by nature and believe everyone is equal. They want a workplace where hard work and career aspiration translates into rapid advancement. They are loyal to their ‘community’ and they view work as part of the life continuum.If Boomers are digital immigrants then Generation Y are digital natives. These ‘sidewalk zombies’ (those who multitask by walking and texting at the same time unaware of what is going on around them on the street) have been raised with technology and, at a young age, had access to cellular technology. By the time they entered the workforce, they had graduated to smartphone technology – at home and at work. Their community is one of friends, many of whom they have never met. They need to be connected during all waking moments via social media – Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc.Within less than a decade, this cohort will double and they will become the dominant cohort in the workplace. They will overshadow the working preferences, desires and needs of Generation X – the cohort sandwiched between Boomers and Generation Y and, unfortunately for them, a cohort half the size of both the Boomer and Generation Y cohorts – and herein lies the ongoing demographic challenge for Generation Y.I am not like them!If we look closely at these two cohorts, there are actually more similarities than differences. Although the generational markers (formative events during the teen and early adult years that members of a cohort share) are significantly different, both were raised in an affluent society. Both cohorts are self-indulgent, independent and self-reliant. Both are highly educated and believe in hard work. Both expect access to the career ladder and expect their skills and knowledge to be recognized and their contribution rewarded. So if they are really not that different, why does the demographic challenge exist?Because perception is reality. Boomers perceive Generation Y as demanding with unrealistic expectations about their role in the workplace. Boomers respect authority and value the hierarchical nature of most organizations – work hard, do your time, get results and you will be rewarded with promotion. Generation Y questions authority and wants to make their own choices – get an education, excel at technology, expect more from your employer, work hard and you will be rewarded with promotion at a fast pace. Generation Y’s perception of Boomers is one of a financially driven group- both as employees and consumers. They view Boomer managers as authoritarian and not open to change. Boomers question Generation Y’s penchant to spend working time on social media sites and expecting to be able to bring their personal smartphones to work and use them for both work and personal applications. As Boomers stay in the workforce and delay retirement, Generation Y feels potential jobs and promotions are denied to them.So what can we do to address these perceptions and bring Boomer Managers and Generation Y employees closer together – to get both cohorts focused on working together for professional and personal performance growth? Here are three steps that members of both cohorts can apply – leveraging the similarities and reducing the effect of their differences. Educate yourself to minimize erroneous perceptions and develop an appreciation for members of the other cohort. Boomer managers need to invest time and effort to fully understand the preferences and working styles of Generation Y. This will provide them with important information when seeking to create an environment where current employees are retained and future employees are recruited. Boomers should take this opportunity to learn about the differences, how to work with them, how to incorporate them into their role as leaders. The Boomer ‘leadership’ philosophy, if based in change management concepts,will set the stage and provide the tools they need to develop future leaders and keep expertise within the organization.Generation Y employees or recruitment candidates should invest time and effort in not only raising their awareness of the organization but also, awareness of those who lead and manage the organization. Developing an awareness for the skills, knowledge and experience acquired by Boomers over their many years of service, will provide Generation Y with the information they need to determine who, in the organization, is best positioned to help them learn and grow. Generation Y are interested in organizations that encourage growth and development of their employees, so they should be seeking out those types of organizations and determining how best to mine the expertise of the Boomer managers in those organizations.
Get to Know One Another – it’s all about building relationships. Boomers are considered to be the ultimate networkers. They have developed a considerable network of professional and personal contacts both within the profit and not for profit sectors. They favour face to face interaction and communication and through this vehicle they have learned how to build lasting relationships, understanding the value of relationships to grow the customer base and grow the business. Surely they could apply this knowledge and expertise to building relationships with members of Generation Y. Generation Y may be new to the concept of networking, as implemented by Boomers, but they certainly know how to network online and build a community of like-minded people. The line between their personal and professional communities are blurred so they don’t tend to differentiate between who is in their specific community. They are also pack-oriented, preferring to play and work within a team or group. So relationships, to them, are also key. The difference may only be in the manner in which they build these relationships. By getting to know one another and how they like to work, most likely these two cohorts will find they are both good at building relationships and share their best practices.
Build a Mentoring Partnership – what are your skills and knowledge you can share with another? Mentoring is an investment of time and effort but it is also best when both parties have something substantial in common such as an interest in a particular skill, position or knowledge area. The key to an effective mentor relationship is that both parties need to be getting something out of the relationship. Reverse mentoring or social-techno mentoring – where Boomers are mentored in the technological skills and knowledge held by Generation Y and Generation Y are mentored in management and leadership skills and knowledge held by Boomers – will take both cohorts a long way to building the relationships necessary to destroy the stereotypes.

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To best understand our current workplace environment and predict future trends, it is necessary to ‘lump’ members of generations into groups defined by their generational markers. We can not look, as leaders, researchers, evaluators of trends, or predictors of the future, only at individuals. We have to generalize and these generalizations can lead to stereotyping groups of people. If the generational cohorts in the workplace take the time and effort to get to know one another, their skills, knowledge and expertise, and be open to sharing their ideas with other cohorts, then the ongoing demographic challenge between Boomers and Generation Y should turn into an ongoing opportunity to build productive relationships.

Josiah Wedgwood – The Manager and Entrepreneur

Most of us have our favorites; be they sporting heroes, politicians, film stars, chefs, and so on. It’s as if our selection of a particular person reflects positively on us-our perspicuity, insightfulness, and plain good taste. In the world of management, for example, we’ve had our flavors-of-the-moment. At one stage it was ‘the celebrity CEO’ (until we realized that they, too, were fallible). We even tried to uncover leadership lessons from figures as diverse as Chief Sitting Bull, Attila the Hun, ‘Stormin’ Norman What’sHisName, and Winnie the Pooh.Amid all this exploration it is inevitable that some people deserving of recognition and their moments in the sun go unnoticed. One such person is Josiah Wedgwood (1730-1795)-master potter, founder of the Wedgwood Company, and grandfather of Charles Darwin.Wedgwood employed work practices and introduced innovations hundred years before they became accepted parts of everyday organizational life. And in the process, he grew his 20-pound inheritance into 500,000 pounds.Here are 10 of Wedgwood’s qualities that have contributed to management as it now practiced. [1] He embraced change
The Industrial Revolution brought with it enormous social, industrial, and economic changes. In the early 18th Century, pottery had been functional, mainly crude vessels for storing and carrying. The pottery industry was dirty and squalid, and its people and work practices coarse and primitive: the industry was ripe for change. Wedgwood embraced many of the changes influencing the ways that his products were made and sold: craftsmanship, designs, processes, and innovation flourished.The size and sophistication of the market developed throughout the 18th Century. Industrial wages were paid creating increased sources of wealth and disposable incomes. Stylish table accessories were in huge demand in the burgeoning industrial cities and increasingly wealthy colonies. The imbibing of tea and coffee joined the traditional pastime of beer drinking as a national characteristic.The Industrial Revolution brought with it the opportunity for the pottery industry to replace traditional water-driven mills and windmills with coal-fired steam engines. In 1782 Wedgwood bought one of James Watt’s steam engines. The rest of the industry was quick to follow his lead.Wedgwood moved in liberal reformer society, too. He applied the principles of the division of labor espoused by his contemporary Adam Smith. He was an avid reader of Paine and Rousseau. He supported the American War of Independence and was an ardent member of the Anti-Slavery Committee. He built and maintained productive relationships
Today, Wedgwood would be described as a ‘Renaissance Man’. He was a master networker and collaborator. He valued and nurtured friendships and personal connections, many of whom possessed quite diverse interests. For example, he collaborated with leaders in the Arts and Scientific communities towards even better designs for his products. His friend and business partner, Thomas Bentley, expertly read social trends that enabled Wedgwood to produce fine things that were in demand. The marketplace was amazed at how Wedgwood was able to read and respond to social trends that ultimately resulted in increased sales.

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His collaborating with leaders in their fields at the time, enabled Wedgwood to replace (with confidence) the drab, coarse, and everyday with a huge range of beautiful and affordable products. He worked also with fellow Staffordshire potters to solve common technical problems. In 1775, for example, he initiated what was probably the world’s first collaborative industrial research project. He practiced MBWA
The term Management-By-Walking-Around (MBWA), borrowed from Hewlett-Packard and enshrined by Tom Peters and Bob Watermanin in the first business bestseller In Search of Excellence , was practiced by Josiah Wedgwood almost two hundred years earlier. Wedgwood believed in and practiced being visible to his workers-mentoring and coaching rather than ‘snoopervising’. His practice of MBWA enabled him to produce a highly detailed ‘Potters Instructions’ developed from over the 30 years of his on-the-job experiences.An initial drawback was a weakened knee-a leftover of childhood smallpox. When the knee began to hamper his ability to walk around the factory, Wedgwood decided to have his leg amputated. With that inconvenience dealt with, he strapped on a wooden leg and continued his practice of MBWA. He insisted on WH&S
Wedgwood was conscious of health and safety, especially to the ever-present dangers of lead poisoning. He insisted on proper cleaning methods, work attire, and washing facilities. Substance abuse was not tolerated. He instituted a complete ban on drinking alcohol. Punctuality was demanded. Constant attendance was encouraged. Fixed hours and a primitive check-in system were introduced. Wedgwood was scrupulous about cleanliness and avoiding waste. Workers were heavily fined for leaving scraps of material around. He led by example
Wedgwood began work as a potter aged 11 (his father died when Josiah was 9 leaving him the youngest of 13 children). He knew all of the ‘tricks-of-the-trade’. His ‘Potters Instructions’ covered detailed explanations of every process to be undertaken and every trick used by the workforce to cut corners.Wedgwood was hard working, driven, demanding, intellectually curious questioning established practices, and always on the lookout for better ways of dong things. He was highly ambitious and fastidious about quality doing everything exceptionally well. And he expected the same from his workers.Wedgwood’s persistence is legendary. His favorite motto was ‘everything yields to experiment’. Even though Edison’s efforts in perfecting the light bulb is familiar to most people (although the number of failed attempts is open to conjecture), Wedgwood’s persistence almost one hundred years earlier in producing Jasper have gone largely unrecognized. After more than 5,000 recorded experiments, Wedgwood (1775) produced Jasper, a product described as one of the most significant innovations since the Chinese invention of porcelain nearly 1,000 years earlier. He pioneered productive work practices
When Wedgwood founded his main factory (Etruria), he set out to industrialize what was a peasant industry. He applied the principles of the Adam Smith’s division of labor by involving specialists concentrated on one specific element of the production process resulting in enhanced efficiency. Training and skill development were important features of this process. In 1790, nearly one-quarter of his workforce were apprentices, many of them female.The factory system at the time had no tradition of foremen, clerks, or managers to exert discipline. In a precursor to what was to become Scientific Management in the early 20th Century, he produced highly detailed ‘Potters Instructions’ based on the regulations and rules he had developed over the 30 years of his experiences.. They covered detailed explanations of every process to be undertaken, every trick used by the workforce to cut corners, and instructions on how to reward high performers and reprimand poor ones.Through their flexibility, the Wedgwood factories were able to produce short runs of highly varied goods, quickly changing color, fashion, style, and price as the market dictated. His production system minimized proprietary risk, reduced fixed costs, and maximized input from skilled labor. He was fastidious about quality
Wedgwood was a visionary: he wanted to leave the world a better place as a result of his contributions. One of his boasts was that he ‘made artists out of mere men’. To that end (and others, of course), he was famously intolerant of poor quality. He would prowl the factory smashing substandard pots and writing in chalk on offending workbenches, ‘this will not do for Josiah Wedgwood’. Workers were fined for breaches of his demand for quality.He was, however, committed to training his workers and providing them with the best quality raw materials. He supported an apprenticeship system, he invested in education, health, diet, and housing of his employees. In what today would be called ‘global sourcing’, he purchased clay from America in a deal struck with the Cherokee nation, from Canton in China, and from Sydney Cove through his contact with Joseph Banks. He used marketing to create demand and increase sales
Wedgwood provided the pièce de résistance of marketing to a world where ‘take-it-or-leave-it’ was the operative. He opened new showrooms in London and allowed customers’ comments to inform design and production. He introduced self-service, catalogue-selling, pattern books, free carriage of goods, money-back guarantees, regular sales, all aiming in Wedgwood’s words ‘to amuse, and divert, and please, and astonish, and even to ravish the ladies’.

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He assiduously sought patronage from aristocrats and politicians and exploited their orders as testimonials are used today. When Queen Charlotte, wife of George III, ordered a tea service in 1776, he trumpeted the royal endorsement on his letterhead, in his showroom, and in his advertising. Calling his cream colored line, ‘Queen’s Ware’, he excited the aspirations of its users. For the privilege, he charged premium prices, compared to those of his competitors, for those wishing to eat off plates fit for a Queen. On another occasion, he made a 932-piece service for Catherine the Great, Empress of Russia. People (including royalty) cued outside his London store to see the sensation. He chose open innovation over intellectual property
Wedgwood was inspired by the work of others and, to that end, he was flattered by others copying his work. He was less concerned about maintaining intellectual capital that he was about contributing to the development and enhancement of relationships, as this example illustrates.One of the perennial challenges of making ceramics was measuring high temperatures in kilns in order to control the production process. Wedgwood invented a pyrometer, or thermometer, that recorded these temperatures. In true Wedgwood fashion, he did not try to retain the technology for himself. He also provided fellow scientists with specially designed experimental apparatus. He was the master of logistics and infrastructure
No stone was left unturned by Wedgwood in his pursuit of excellence in product and sales. He devoted enormous amounts of time and money to improving communications and transportation, especially with the ports that brought him raw materials and provided his routes to market. He promoted the development of turnpike roads and was treasurer of the construction of the Grand Trunk Canal, an extraordinary engineering feat 93 miles long, linking Staffordshire with the ports of Liverpool in the West and Hull in the East. It is estimated that following the completion of the canal, freight rates reduced by ninety percent.1. Ockham’s Razor, Radio National, Australia: ‘An innovator for the ages’, 14 December 2008, presented by Professor Mark Dodgson, Director of the Technology and Innovation Management Centre at the University of Queensland, Australia.

Cloud-Based Systems and Workforce Management Software: The Benefits

It is not surprising to have markets embracing cloud computing more readily today than a decade ago in order to boost their business performance and bottom line. Research has revealed that 90% of all new enterprises favor cloud-based systems which include inbuilt workforce management software when setting up their business ventures. This type of system and inbuilt software offers a smoother transition and scalability for improved mobile workforce scheduling operations.It is also noted that huge savings are enjoyed by a majority of cloud users with 62% readily reinvesting the savings into the business.Benefits for Start-UpsThe huge benefits that cloud computing bring about are also favorable to start-up businesses as well as medium to large businesses. Cloud-based systems allow many of these entrepreneurs to invest less capital on onsite technological resources and solutions.

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Start-up businesses are able to move progressively forward to embrace new technology elements such as the mobile devices and workforce scheduling software. With the progressive annual growth on cloud computing, this industry is expected to benefit all businesses with the widening circle of advanced features for mobile workforce scheduling.Cloud-based systems are suitable for handling mobile workforce schedules that would ensure greater effectiveness even for small to medium businesses. Hence, a small company that provides mobile workforce can be equipped with the right scheduling software and marketing strategies to increase efficiency without imposing on specialist skills or resources.Cloud computing has been proven for small businesses in terms of increased efficiency and better time management of mobile workforce and resources. Cloud services are suitable for many types of small businesses in a wide array of industries such as building constructions or education.Future PredictionsAs the technology progresses, it is expected that a wider scope of applications would emerge from cloud computing that would enhance the mobile workforce in more ways than one. It is predicted by various technological experts that cloud computing would see more hybrid clouds emerging with the number of Amazon competitors being reduced.

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It is expected that hybrid cloud management would be key in impacting mobile workforce scheduling with an explosion of cloud brokerage as well as integration hubs. Data will become more prominent with more advanced software that incorporates advanced features such as defined networking.There would be more options on hybrid cloud security with IAAS based services on the rise. This might lead to more frequent outages unless advanced technology brings on better solutions.A definite shift is experienced from the technology arena to the business sector with cloud based decisions made to enhance B2C services. Hence, mobile workforce scheduling can gain greater efficiency with the advanced management features to avoid low service standards.

Print Management and Network Security

Print management can often be an annoyance for network operations managers and network administrators, especially if the enterprise or organization relies on their operating system’s native print spoolers. But beyond mere annoyance, insufficient print management can easily become a security risk for your organization’s sensitive data and materials.Print Management Vulnerabilities Many network operations managers and administrators would rather be working on things such as maintaining network integrity and security, rather than troubleshooting enterprise print problems. However, some network managers and admins may not realize that resolving poor print spool management can also increase network security.A crucial concern in print management and network security–considering today’s highly mobile work environments, which increasingly implement WAN’s to accommodate mobile users–is the print data that is “exposed” while sent from the end user’s machine to the printer over the WAN. Native OS print spoolers work extremely well in the capacity for which they’re designed. However, they’re only designed to accommodate a very narrow range of tasks, and accounting for WAN security is typically not one of them.

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The good news is that any high quality third-party print management solution will provide increased WAN security for print jobs. Plus Tech’s OM Plus print management software, for example, encrypts print jobs between OM Plus servers. This prevents the interception and compromise of sensitive documents by rogue employees or by neighboring or crawling computers with access to the WAN.Print Management Prevents Accidental Security CompromisesThis ability of print management solutions to control and manage user print privileges and printer performance can also prevent accidental compromises in document security. Using a native print spooler, a user may send print jobs to the wrong printer, meaning non-primary parties or departments could receive highly sensitive print jobs in their print tray by accident. For example, an HR documents containing social security numbers, salary information, or proposed changes in workforce personnel could print on the production floor rather than on the HR department’s internal printers.Unauthorized parties could then either wean information from the documents that they shouldn’t be seeing, or in a more benign scenario, they could simply dispose of it improperly or without the security/destruction measures appropriate to the document.Printer Problems and Solutions: Reading Between the Lines

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While these problems are relatively minor compared to more foreboding network security threats, one must consider these problems relatively. That is, the time that network managers, administrators and help desk staff spend working on or troubleshooting problems related to print management is time spent not working on other network vulnerabilities. The International Data Corporation (IDC) estimates that 40% of help desk calls are related to printing problems. When such a significant amount of resources are spent on a problem with such an easy solution, it becomes increasingly difficult for management to justify not implementing a third-party print management solution, particularly given the security concerns such a solution addresses.

Engaged? How To Develop Communication Skills and Engagement in Management and Staff

The events sector has been successfully creating platforms for businesses to share its’ vision and plans with audiences for decades now. It is clear that audiences are becoming more and more sophisticated; you cannot just impress them with creative stages and amazing lighting. If you need a return on your investment it is essential to engage your audience early, which is not always easy with information packed sessions and limited time frames. The more engaged the workforce is, the greater the impact on their motivation and ultimately the bottom line.The big question is, to what extent is your workforce engaged? Workforces that have a higher percentage of employees who feel engaged with the vision and direction of the business will outperform those who feel disengaged. Standard Chartered Bank, is one business who are striding ahead in this arena, they use measures of engagement and have found that there is a strong correlation between performance and engagement.Some studies show that less than 20% of staff are actively engaged at work, with over 40% actively disengaged, that leaves a big percentage of the workforce ready and waiting to be activated in the right way, so they are engaged to use their resources and deliver on the companies objectives.

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One of the main issues for poor staff engagement is unskilled and poor managers. Managers are now said to be ‘very weak’, nor just ‘weak’, in a studies done in the UK and States, notes John Shenton of HR Evaluate. Weak and unskilled managers cost business £220bn through misunderstanding, poor communication, personality clashes and lack of leadership!So how do you train your managers to ensure that they can engage, inspire and lead their teams? How do make sure the communication skills and strategies they use are effective across all levels?One way to motivate your staff for the long term is to make use of a skilled facilitator and trainer, who specialises in soft skills, motivation and communication strategies. If team leaders can use language that really “speaks” to team members they are much more likely to engage them – an objective outsider can more easily highlight and develop constructive language and communication patterns with your workforce for everyone’s benefit. Over the last 10 years PJ Stevens, of LEAP, has worked with businesses, teams and leaders to help them create positive and engaging communication strategies, through conference presentations, seminars, development workshops and coaching sessions.With conference presentations, you can reach hundreds of people with the same message with potentially huge impact. PJ has ‘a great stage presence and charisma, which is utterly infectious, you can’t help but get caught up in it’ said one satisfied company sales director. Givenchy were blown away when he presented at their last conference, but more importantly 9 months on the attendees are still using the Champion Behaviours from the conference speech. And one top UK agent says of PJ’s training and development, ‘We trust him with our best clients in the full knowledge that he will deliver results’.’If businesses are serious about building teams and being more successful a hands on approach will get the results you need’ note Emma Palfrey, Director of Penguins. She continues, ‘Running interactive workshops, including Ice-Breakers, Outstanding Teamwork, Leadership Development and Winning Relationships will give you the opportunity to explore the teams’ areas for development and skill them to take performance and productivity to the next level.’ To measure the improvement in key competencies such as communication, difference management, trust, motivation and leadership; An Even Better Place to Work website offers fabulous interactive measurements, activities and development tools.

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If you want to engage with your most valuable resource – people – and have them fully engaged with their roles, goals and responsibilities then engage the services of a professional (external) facilitator, presenter and trainer and measure the positive results for yourself. As with any training, development and teambuilding, measurement, quantifiable results and return on investment is becoming more and more important. Team building for fun is important, team development that supports people, performance and productivity is vital!