Engaging Generation Next

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By Maria Krowicki - I was scrolling through some articles online, when the words “wet noodle” caught my eye. My initial thought was…noodle??? Ronzoni noodle? Udon noodle? Did I subconsciously log onto Food Network? I hit the back arrow until I found the article and realized what kind of “noodle” was being discussed.

The title of the article, Shifting your firm’s culture: Wet Noodle or Deliberate Destiny, was a very interesting and thought provoking read. The author, Edi Osborne, CEO of Mentor Plus, had some great points as to how we could take our firms from being “wet noodles”, where the momentum for change is snail slow, to a firm with “deliberate destiny” and vision for the future.

Partners need to decide what their “firm of the future” will look like. They have the master plan, the key to change. This was an interesting concept: we always say change comes from the “top down.” Is that really true? To some extent yes, but, what about from the “bottom up?” Where better to get ideas for cutting edge change than the staff who could potentially be the next future leaders. X’ers and Millennials are chock full of ideas. Engaging the next generation is critical to move your firm forward. Next gen leaders will take on the challenges for the good of the firm, as long as those challenges align with their personal goals as well.

Of course different things motivate different people. In today’s workforce, we are seeing that there are four generations working side by side. What motivates a Boomer won’t be the same for a Millennial. Firms who are looking towards the future are capitalizing on this advantage. Who better to teach the next generation and provide them with valuable insight?

Start with small changes, and everyone will follow suit. They don’t have to be long term goals that may feel overwhelming. Establish some short term goals that can be easily accomplished. In our firm, when we rolled out our mentoring program, it was made clear that everyone would be involved in some type of mentoring relationship. This included everyone from administrative staff to management and everyone in between. The staff was receptive to this, as they themselves were looking for change. We listened and brought them what they needed. We are still in the process of investing in their long term development, whether it be technical skills, interpersonal skills, soft skills, CPE, etc. You can’t move ahead to the future if you don’t cultivate your present.

It goes without saying that while firms are listening to the needs of their staff and striving to be a firm of the future, every firm needs that visionary leader to guide them along in that direction. The partners that may not be on board will soon jump on the bandwagon, as they certainly won’t want to be left behind.

Think about it. Don’t be a “wet noodle”.

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