Posts tagged “People

Crooks and Ladders

Posted on August 17, 2014


What would you do to get ahead? How clear is the path to advancement in your organization? Does your team have both a common goal and a shared understanding of the means to reach it? What can we learn from criminal behavior in this regard? In Malcolm Gladwell’s recent take on criminal upward mobility, he references The Crooked Ladder which details how some minorities have utilized organized crime to advance to power, respectability and eventual legitimacy. In effect, criminals often operate as innovators whereby they accept a mainstream social goal (e.g., success) while rejecting the means by which it should be pursued. A better understanding of this goals-versus-means interplay may impact our perception of rules, norms and routine enforcement. Even criminal leaders consider this in their management approach, as sociologist…

Lessons from Maersk CFO

Posted on February 14, 2014


Maersk CFO Trond Westlie outlines his rules for success in Issue 9 of EY’s Capital Insights: Use what’s already in the business but improve upon it. Even though you may have different views on how things should be done, the business has evolved over many years. You need to optimize what is already in the business. You have to make sure the processes that drive the finance and performance management functions are structured and transparent. Everyone in the organization needs to know about them. Get rid of budgets. They are a waste of time. The world is changing so much, so the only thing budgets are good for is cost control. And most businesses know how many cars, offices and people they need, so…

Generational Differences

Posted on April 23, 2013

High-res version

Following an interesting presentation by Brad Karsh last week, it’s time to put on my cardigan and rant about youngsters. The newest generation to enter the workforce – Millennials – is often perceived as narcissistic and entitled. Considering the perception is similar to Baby Boomers’ views of Generation X, let’s look at some key generational differences. Are there specific drivers of behavior or does everyone just star in their own movie today?


Because less than half of Millennials have ever held a menial job, their first professional role may be their first authentic working experience. They have been told they’re special and they can do anything they want. Their corporate role models are more Mark Zuckerberg, Sergey Brin and Larry Page than Lou Gerstner or Lee Iacocca. They have often grown up in highly structured environments with limited free time. They are likely to collaborate and share. Most have always been told what to do. When they hit a barrier, they’re conditioned to ask questions rather than think on their own. This contrasts with older generations who don’t like being told what to do and tend to independently work through barriers.

Ways of Working

Because Millennials do not work well with uncertainty, leaders should explain the big picture context of requests and plan to have periodic checkpoints to monitor progress and provide frequent feedback. No news is bad news to most Millennials. In addition, leaders should get to know their teams on a personal level (within reasonable boundaries) and understand their differences. For Millennials, taking initiative and working through options to demonstrate independent thought are recommended. Millennials should become resourceful with tasks and judicious in communication. And remember that no one stars in their own movie.