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Re: $H!T
Old 10-07-2004, 10:24 AM   #41
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Re: $H!T

This is just great news. As soon as the boomers retire, we'll have fewer workers, and it turns out most of those remaining workers don't want to work very hard. I obviously have no problem with that on an individual basis, but as a country we're doomed.

Does anybody know which countries still have a strong work ethic? My guess would be Asia ex-Japan.
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Re: $H!T
Old 10-07-2004, 10:40 AM   #42
 
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Re: $H!T

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This is just great news. * As soon as the boomers retire, we'll have fewer workers, and it turns out most of those remaining workers don't want to work very hard. * I obviously have no problem with that on an individual basis, but as a country we're doomed.

Does anybody know which countries still have a strong work ethic? * My guess would be Asia ex-Japan.
Don't blame GenX for not wanting to work as hard as their parents. GenX has seen what the price for doing so has been, and wants no part of it. Naturally, the Boomers assumed that GenX, GenY, etc...would want to work that hard, and promised themselves substantial retirement benefits that Alan Greenspan now says we can't afford.

If Uncle Sam wants to take money of out my check for social security, then it should be for my social security, no one else's.
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Re: $H!T
Old 10-07-2004, 10:46 AM   #43
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Re: $H!T

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Don't blame GenX for not wanting to work as hard as their parents.
I'm not blaming you. I'm right on the border of boomer/X myself. I just don't want to invest in you.
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Re: $H!T
Old 10-07-2004, 11:04 AM   #44
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Re: $H!T

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So what do we do to bring the Baby Boomers and Generation X together? *This is also a subject near and dear to my heart. *On the baby boomer end, they worked hard and sacrificed and now want the rewards. *On the Gen X side, they feel *far more mobile and see the odds of receiving the pie in the sky as slim. *I doubt I am going to convince them otherwise. *

Martha
IMO, the best way is a restructuring of workplace mentality, but I doubt that will happen util the boomers retire. In the mean time, try setting up junior people's deals with less "pie tomorrow" in the mix.
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Re: $H!T
Old 10-07-2004, 11:11 AM   #45
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Re: $H!T

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True true, but one more question, at least for today.

How do you separate out ego from the equation? It's been my personal experience that some partners feel threatened by an associate who takes the initiative, is well liked by the partner's clients, and is a rising star in his/her particular area of legal expertise. Partner insecurity can lead to hoarding of work, poor performance reviews, micromanagement, etc... Doesn't seem to fair to an associate who's only trying to do his/her job.

Then again, it's the partners who bring in the work, so if there's a choice between letting an associate go or alienating a partner with a book of business -- regardless of the reason -- guess who loses...

One way we address this is allowing movement of associates from one department to another. If the relationship isn't working, they can try to work in another area. And, if we have a problem partner, we try to solve the problem. On occassion, a partner might not get to work with associates because no associate is ever good enough.

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Re: $H!T
Old 10-07-2004, 11:13 AM   #46
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Re: $H!T

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IMO, the best way is a restructuring of workplace mentality, but I doubt that will happen util the boomers retire. In the mean time, try setting up junior people's deals with less "pie tomorrow" in the mix.
So what do I give the boomers if I give the pie to Gen X?
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Old 10-07-2004, 11:22 AM   #47
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Hey, Martha, you're the boss. If you're a leader too then it's not just a good idea to bring Boomers & GenX together, it's our JOB.

I think the workplace of the 1960s/70s was much more authoritarian. Orders were orders, not springboards for discussion, and the majority of employees didn't have working spouses or frugal lifestyles to give them a chance to job-hop. We Boomers started changing that forever, and GenX is our reward for our activism. These "kids" are just building on our accomplishments!

Today's workplace seems much more authoritative or even collaborative, especially in America. Admittedly I made a military career out of supporting democracy without practicing it, but those questioning attitudes and "forceful backup" saved all of our butts (coincidentally mine too) more times than a whole bucketful of "Aye, aye, sir".

The Internet has also democratized information access to the lowest common denominator. It's hard to faithfully believe your bosses when you can enter their buzzwords into a search engine and come up with two or three better ways to do business. The networked generation will also learn about new techniques months before you'll see it in the WSJ or a trade magazine. These newbies are a great resource with even greater potential, and it's our responsibility to develop it instead of neglecting it to run wild. After years of the cliché, respect & loyalty are finally becoming a two-way street. If you don't afford them to your employees then you'll quickly become the only employee.

I propose moderating the cynicism by embracing it. After a new hire has been around 6-12 months and has shown the potential to do more than the probationary basics without constant supervision, start engaging them in the "career" discussion. Acknowledge & validate their paranoia by admitting that you'd hate to be starting your career in their shoes in today's world. Agree that the "partnership track" isn't for everyone nor is it required. Should they choose to pursue it, the partnership track does require >2500 hours/year of billing not just because the candidates are cash cows, but also because that's how they're exposed to a wide range of experiences & contacts. Provide self-motivation by warning that they shouldn't pursue partnership track unless they're happy in their work and absolutely fascinated by the opportunity to work to the top of the firm.

Acknowledge other lifestyle choices, too. While we all want to spend more time with our families, this particular niche of the industry isn't going to subsidize both family time and high pay. Choosing to spend more time with family is OK but it'll probably result in lower pay and no partner consideration. (You're in a great position to validate the difficulty of choosing the parenthood vs partnership track.) OTOH whatever hard work for the firm they contribute will widen the employee's experience & contacts and help develop their own skills should they choose to work somewhere else someday. It makes money for the firm but it also develops the employee. Instead of slaving for the man, they're working through their own self-directed training program. At least 50% of their job training should be the topics they HAVE to learn, but perhaps the rest could be on the skills they WANT to learn.

Point out that taking care of the troops is also good business for the firm. Medical benefits, 401(k) matches, personal days, & educational programs are all ways to reduce employee turnover and hiring costs. If the firm has them, point out how this helps the workers take care of their families. If the employees are telling you that the firm doesn't have them (their opinion is the only one that counts) then put them together-- actions to improve these programs will speak far louder than management assurances. And up the chain of management, capitalizing employee benefits has a short payback.

I guess the final word would be sharing that you made partner on the basis of your skills, your motivation, your hard work, and the mentoring you got from your leaders. You didn't make it on the backs of your employees, and you don't expect them to be in that role either. Then you can let them know that you'll support whatever choice they make as long as they keep sharing their expectations. You don't have to indulge every whim, but it helps to know when your goals are diverging!
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Re: $H!T
Old 10-07-2004, 11:22 AM   #48
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Re: $H!T

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So what do I give the boomers if I give the pie to Gen X?
Pie for a boomer may be flexibility for part time while keeping their healthcare. If you do not have one, a 401k, simple ira, etc.
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Re: $H!T
Old 10-07-2004, 11:31 AM   #49
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Re: $H!T

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So what do I give the boomers if I give the pie to Gen X?
You don't have to give the whole pie to the younger crowd, just more than a sliver. The other thing that is critically important is to avoid lapsing into authoritarian mode. GenXers generally are not real receptive to being told to do things "because I'm the boss". They will do it, but your credibility quickly slips to zero if you don't have a dialogue and rational explanation.
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Re: $H!T
Old 10-07-2004, 11:42 AM   #50
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Re: $H!T

Nords, I agree with everything you say. As I said in much earlier posts today, I am especially crabby today. Law is still supposed to be a profession, but people feel free to walk away from their jobs, on short notice, without a regard for the client. Generally, I am much more optomistic about working with the younger generations.

As I mentioned, I have left the door wide open on different working arrangements. So far no one is really interested. I do get a feeling sometimes that people want to be on the partnership track, make a lot of money, but not work the kind of hours it historically has taken to make that kind of money. As I also mentioned, I talk to associates (and partners) about this issue and we work on planning ways to keep receipts up and growing without needing to work more hours. I embrace new and creative ways to get the job done. I am impressed with how younger people use technology. I am impressed with how they can think and type at the same time. I am impressed at their fearless willingness to take on any work, no matter how hard. They want to meet clients. They want to go to court. So we aren't all going to hell in a handbasket.

Martha





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Re: $H!T
Old 10-07-2004, 11:50 AM   #51
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Re: $H!T

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You don't have to give the whole pie to the younger crowd, just more than a sliver. The other thing that is critically important is to avoid lapsing into authoritarian mode. GenXers generally are not real receptive to being told to do things "because I'm the boss". They will do it, but your credibility quickly slips to zero if you don't have a dialogue and rational explanation.

I never liked being told to so something "because I am the boss" either. My partners are as resistant to authority as the associaties. Lawyers as a group score high on autonomy. I always have to have a rationale explanation for why I want something done a certain way. Given that I work with lawyers, no matter how rational my explanation, odd are I will get an argument.
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Re: $H!T
Old 10-07-2004, 11:54 AM   #52
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Re: $H!T

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If Uncle Sam wants to take money of out my check for social security, then it should be for my social security, no one else's.
Sorry, it's my social security. I paid for my parents' social security.
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Re: $H!T
Old 10-07-2004, 11:55 AM   #53
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Re: $H!T

I hear that. About 50% of each graduating class at my high school typically become lawyers. Any surprise that the school routinely took the top place in the state debate competition and often whooped fanny on a national level?
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Re: $H!T
Old 10-07-2004, 11:56 AM   #54
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Re: $H!T

I went back and read this thread from start. There are so many issues it is hard to separate which is cause and effect.
Simply generalizing about generational conflict misses the point--different people have different needs. Classifying all needs into two categories--associates and partners fails to recognize needs of the individual which a lot what the gen x/y conflict is all about.
My consulting is focused on such organizational behaviors and it still amazes me how little effort is made by most organizations to simply ask what people need and expect. (This is their "pie") The leaders can then decide what fits their business goals and what does not.
Perhaps it is time the professional service firms consider their business model of a caste system is out of date.
Instead, look at software development and those that are successful at attracting and retaining the best--Cisco, Intel, etc. They live solely on intellectual capital the same as professional service firms. Instead of caste, they recognize the market value of each level of service and pay for it. Rainmakers (sales) get paid for business origination while production gets paid for the quality and timeliness of output, etc,etc. The point is the pay and goodies are not a function of seniority and title but what creates value and success. In many of my more enlightened clients top sales people's earnings exceed many in senior management. But guess what--that is okay because everyone's PIE is bigger.
Generational conflict is not new--what is new is the size of the two populations. 76 mil boomers to only 44 Mil Xers. Each group brought up with different values and each in different life phases. Not something that is going to be "fixed".
IMHO best chance for organizational success in intellectual capital organizations is to acknowledge that it is individual contributions that create value and recognize it is leadership's role to devise a reasonable balance between individual needs and company objectives.
I am sure TH & others with high tech backgrounds can speak to reward and recognitions structures that work best in high tech. Recognize they are not solutions but a way to think about the problem in a more contemporary way vs the organizational structures in professional service firms that have not changed much from the 1800's
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Re: $H!T
Old 10-07-2004, 12:01 PM   #55
 
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Re: $H!T

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You don't have to give the whole pie to the younger crowd, just more than a sliver. *The other thing that is critically important is to avoid lapsing into authoritarian mode. *GenXers generally are not real receptive to being told to do things "because I'm the boss". *They will do it, but your credibility quickly slips to zero if you don't have a dialogue and rational explanation.
It's not really a money (salary) issue, but rather one of incentive.

In the law firm context, partners can offer associates a lower base pay, but award them a guaranteed bonus at the end of the year if they meet certain billable hour targets. The only complication arises when the partners aren't bringing in the business to allow the associates to meet their targets. A way to offset this is to allow associates to bring in their own clients (and receive a percentage of the fees), or by giving "billable equivalent" time to writing articles, giving speeches, etc...

As for being unnecessarily authoritative, you're absolutely right in saying "because I'm the boss" doesn't sit well if the reason for doing something isn't obvious or you don't have a reason you're willing to share. Often times, "because I'm the boss" really means:

a. "because I don't want to do it";
b. "because it helps me at your expense"
c. "my main go-to-guy won't/can't do it, so I'm going to see if I can get you to do it"
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Re: $H!T
Old 10-07-2004, 12:09 PM   #56
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Re: $H!T

nwsteve, I am giving some thought to your comments on organizational structure. One issue for a law firm is that the partners are owners and they want to see a return on their investment. If we all share and share alike, there is no payoff. That said, compensation systems at law firms have changed a lot over the years. They used to be based mostly on seniority. Now receipts and other factors are emphasized. So there has been a move to compensation based on what you bring to the table.
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Re: $H!T
Old 10-07-2004, 02:23 PM   #57
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Re: $H!T

Martha,
Glad to hear there has been some evolution in the compensation paradigm for law firms.
My comments were meant to suggest that if you forget for the moment that you are a professional service firm and all the trappings that connotates, and think about it as more a purveyor of intellectual capital, you might come up with a different business model.
I agree that like any other organization, owners need a return on their capital but this is no different than for any for-profit entity. The only difference with a professional service firm is owners are also providers of the service. Separating the market value of the service from the return on capital will help identify what is a return for the service and what is return on investment. BTW, this is not meant to imply that the Associates value is the same as a partner but you can easily define its market by simply looking at what you would pay to outsource the same work.
If you want to assign all value to the service, there is none left for the enterprise. That is okay but then let's not talk about return on their investment. Besides some office equiipment what have they invested beyond the time they were paid for anyway?
Maybe helpful to rethink what the pie is that is being divided and what actions actually make the pie bigger. Then you will know better how the rewards can be best shared.
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Re: $H!T
Old 10-07-2004, 02:27 PM   #58
 
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Re: $H!T

Brewer -
You are responsible for your career. The contract with your employer works both ways. It's up to -you- to negotiate the 'pie'. If you don't think the pie they offer is fair, don't work there. A good time to start talking about this is during the interview, then at least 2 times a year. Try to be specific regarding your goals and deliverables, and ask your employer to do the same with regards to compensation, training, vacation, or whatever you are expecting from them. I've worked at several technology companies, and good managers will be receptive to this approach. Keep in mind that in the same way that you can't guarantee your work (in terms of quality, quantity, and schedule), your boss may not be able make promises. If you are living up to your commitments, and the employer isn't, then tell them. If they don't respond then leave.

The situation you are in is your own responsibility -- fix it.

Staying on makes the problem worse, and will nurture bad habits that will inhibit future success.

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Re: $H!T
Old 10-07-2004, 02:50 PM   #59
 
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Re: $H!T

I'm a Boomer and this thread is why I left work.

I'm exhausted just reading it!
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Re: $H!T
Old 10-07-2004, 03:06 PM   #60
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Re: $H!T

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I'm a Boomer and this thread is why I left work.

I'm exhausted just reading it!
OK, Dory. I don't really want recs, but I sure agree with this post!

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