Management training can help with intergenerational problems

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Comprehensive management training can help organisations deal with any issues around intergenerational conflict, according to Markerstudy Group director of HR and talent development Tanya Gerrard-White.

Gerrard-White told HR magazine that as Markerstudy has grown rapidly by acquisition and organically in the last few years, there are “massive opportunities for people to be fast-tracked”.

This and an attitude of “if you’re good enough, you’re old enough” has meant that many managers in the group are younger people supervising their older colleagues.

“A comprehensive management programme helps, as people learn how they can have credibility among their peers and those older than them,” she said. “They learn [issues] are often not personal.”

She added: “We talk a lot about the different generations, and behavioural and communication styles. It’s not about one-size-fits-all. Having all that in their tool bag helps them manage someone 15 years older than them.”

She said that younger employees – Gen Y – can often “confuse ambition for ability” and that HR’s job is “to help them, not discourage them, and give them more depth”.

The group has a Shooting Stars programme for high potentials, which people can either apply for themselves or be put forward for. Almost 80% of those who have been through the programme have been promoted since.

Gerrard-White said planning career paths is a “joint” responsibility between managers and employees. “Sometimes senior management can spot talent [the employee] doesn’t see in themselves, but it’s also important that people are inspired [to think about their own career path],” she said.

Markerstudy has grown significantly by acquisition since Gerrard-White joined about five years ago, diversifying from insurance into other sectors such as publishing. When she joined it had 500 members of staff; it now has 3,700 employees.

She said growth had impacted on the quality of internal communications, so the group is refocusing its efforts here. In June, the whole company will attend a conference and dinner in Birmingham, which will be the third largest sit-down dinner ever held in the UK.

Gerrard-White said the challenge is “how we grow and still keep it fun and retain that personality”.

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