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In my role leading the Field Transformation and Readiness organization, one of my main objectives is to build awareness of the workforce shifts in sales that are taking place at this very moment, how it impacts all of us, and the role that each and every one of us can play to lead SAP and our customers in the digital transformation.   As I’ve traveled the world, I’ve talked with so many of many colleagues who are acknowledging the shift and considering the role each of us needs to play.

Rae Kyriazis – Global Head – Field Transformation & Readiness Management

Did you know ….

  • The majority of leadership roles, up to and including CEO positions, will be filled by millennials within the next 10 years. They comprise the largest segment of the global workforce today.
  • In the last 3 years since we started the global Sales Academy, we’ve increased millennials in our sales force by 9%.
  • We are at a critical point where we need to grow our millennial sales force to 50% in the next 8 years, and think about how we are readying our organization for a shift in leadership.
  • There are many myths about millennials not being loyal, having a sense of entitlement, etc.       These are misconceptions. In fact, studies show millennials are incredibly loyal and passionate about leadership in their organizations. And it’s important to note that millennials inherently possess many of the qualities that will be critical for leaders moving forward. First and foremost, they are digital natives, and mirror our increasingly digital native customer base. They are also highly collaborative and team-focused and globally, culturally aware.

How are we preparing this generation to help lead the digital transformation?

  • In our culture, we believe someone needs to have 10+ years’ experience to be considered for a leadership role. However, with the speed of the digital transformation, and the seismic shift of our global workforce and customer base, we simply cannot wait.
  • We need to challenge our beliefs about career progression. It’s no longer a matter of staying in one role and paying your dues until you are promoted within that area. We need, and millennials expect, to embrace a broader concept of career development and preparation for leadership. This includes lateral moves, gaining exposure to other areas of the business, which all serve to increase our organizational agility. We know this agility is key to excelling in an environment that demands constant change, within our own walls, as well as with our customers.
  • And above all else, we’ve got to believe in them.

 What does this mean for the rest of us?

One thing that comes across loud and clear when I talk to people from different generations is the feeling they are being pushed aside for this coming wave of millennials. Here is my response: this is not an “either or”, this is “both, and”.

  • The largest segment of our workforce today is Gen X and Baby Boomers. And our hard-earned experiences, wisdom and skills are critical to integrate, mentor and guide our next generation.
  • We all have to work together to understand and respect our differences. For anyone who feels they are at risk of becoming irrelevant or overlooked with this increasing focus on millennials, nothing can be further from the truth. We need millennials as much as they need us right now.
  • The secret sauce is to unleash and realize our collective intelligence, what I like to call the “power of AND”. 1+1=3.
  • Here is how Michelle Charles, Global Diversity and Inclusion Head for GCO, puts it – “As the demographics of our organization are changing to accommodate more diverse talent, and we have a situation of 5 generations working together, we need to  lead and manage in a more inclusive way- our leaders should focus on connecting individuals to form teams where everyone, has a say, can contribute, and we can capitalize on different perspectives   – we need to move away from one dimensional identifiers (like age or gender) and focus on the knowledge, experience, and unique insights that each person brings and create a culture where we use collaboration and integration of cognitive diversity as a tool to drive innovation and business impact”

Call to Action

  • In general, we need to have greater awareness of our own words and actions and the impression and impact they have on people.
  • More specifically, there are some concrete, simple steps each of us is responsible to take:
    • Encourage a two-way dialogue. Learn from them. Open your mind to consider their perspective. You might even ask an early talent to mentor you.
    • Open Doors. Build bridges and make connections to expand the millennials’ networks
    • Include millennials in meetings. Ensure there is an early talent present in every internal and customer meeting, and welcome them to share their point of view in the meeting.
    • Give feedback
    • Support their development plans
  • Overall, offer help, whether it’s your job or not. Ask the question “how can I help”, twice a day, every day. Whatever it is that energizes you as a person is what you should do. Find out what it is that you care most about, are most committed to pay forward, and do that. It should be fun; it should be easy.

Check out a fun new global campaign GCO Diversity and Inclusion launched – 21 Questions. This will showcase Academy Graduates who have the strong support and engagement of their mentors, managers and teams, who are tapping into the collective intelligence, and excelling beyond expectations.

 *Data source: HWP May 2017.

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