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4 steps to a policy all four generations will accept


I am often asked by managers, “What would it look like, step-by-step, to hand over sticking point policy development to our people?”

Here’s the process I recommend:

  1. Find representatives who are respected by colleagues of their generation.
  2. Tell them you’re not promising to agree with every detail of their recommendations, but that you do have complete confidence that by leveraging their generational differences, they can come up with something better than you could.
  3. Lay out the business challenges. Tell them if there’s something regulations prohibit, what customers have complained about, or that the budget is limited. If you let them wrestle with the business challenges that you and the other executives would have wrestled with, they won’t come back with impractical recommendations.
  4. Give them my book, Sticking Points, and let them work through the five-step process I detail in chapter 3. Here’s a brief summary of what they should do:

    – Determine which additional sticking point chapters relate to your sticking point, and read those as well.

    – Listen to one another talk about how their generation sees the sticking point until they develop genuine understanding and appreciation for the various generational preferences.

    – Sort out business necessities from generational preferences.

    – Using business necessities as a guide, determine how much can be flexed to accommodate generational preferences.

    – On the issues where flexing resolves most but not all of the issues, work out an agreement for what the policy should say and how the organization can explain it to their people.

I’ve discovered from conversations with managers and executives that they worry they’ll feel obligated to approve even senseless recommendations or risk discouraging the committee after all the work they’ve put in. Tell the group up front that you may not agree with everything they come up with but that you will review it with them to make sure they didn’t miss anything.

But it won’t happen if you wait to weigh in until they have brought their final recommendations and then send them back to work on it again. That makes committees crazy because you didn’t give them the information they needed earlier, making the project drag on.

It really is that simple.

[Photo via aiche.org]

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