By Bridget Hawkins
Our roving reporter recently sat down with Jessica Schubert, BWA Premium Member, founder and Director of Intact Teams to discuss her journey, and the changing workforce. Jessica has been coaching corporate teams on leading the multi-generational, and multicultural modern workforce since 2013, founding her own business Intact Teams in 2018. Having worked in Europe and the Asia Pacific for over a decade Jessica has accumulated a wealth of experience leading cross-cultural teams.
The modern workforce is changing, the offices of Australia are more culturally and linguistically diverse than ever, and by 2025, Millennials (or Gen Y) will make up 75% of the workforce, already making up 34% of the workforce. By 2030, there will be no baby boomers in the work force. These changes alongside digitalisation, the rise of the ‘gig’ economy, and the growth of multiple income streams or “side hustles.” Jess explains that, on an organisational level, businesses need to “embrace [these changes] and adapt leadership strategies to optimise the advantages that come with these changes.
“We can’t lead the way we were led, or are currently leading”
The younger generation has a different mindset, generation Z and generation Alpha are “internet raised.” They have shorter attention spans, a different approach to learning, place significant value on sustainability, and require flexibility. On average, Gen z and alpha will have 18 jobs and 6 careers spanning across their lifetime, in comparison baby boomers would have 1-2 careers in their life. Jessica recommends having varying job content to entice younger employees to keep on at an organisation. The younger generations need to be led differently to be led effectively.
“We’re leading across borders without ever leaving Australia”
Australia is an incredibly diverse country, and often time domestic teams will be made up of culturally and linguistically diverse people. Or, a business may have international suppliers, clients, or teams. Jessica spent a decade leading cross-cultural teams spanning Europe, and the Asia-Pacific, and shares her tips on leading across cultures and borders. Some of the biggest lessons she has learnt in her career come down to planning and communication. Jessica ensures her planning is based in knowledge, awareness and empathy.
Leaders need to be aware of leadership differences –hierarchal leadership structure vs Egalitarian leadership structure, decision-making differences, top down vs by consent, how negative feedback is conveyed and what respect for time looks like. For example, in the Australian workforce decisions are made top-down, we look to the ‘boss’ to make the decisions, but decisions once made are flexible to change. In Germany, decisions making is by consent – every individual needs to be consulted and have their say, but once a decision is made it is final. These differences are important to remember when leading cross-cultural teams, and communicating how meetings, projects, or interactions will be structured can avoid confusion and misunderstandings.
The first step to effectively leading a multi-generational, or a multi-cultural team or workspace is getting a little help. An outside opinion can help set in motion the changes that will optimise the team’s interactions, and keeping everyone happy, safe, and productive.
BWA is very excited that Jessica will be presenting a series of boardroom workshops with for our Business Women Australia community in Melbourne. The next event in the series Leading Multi-Generations and Culture, a breakfast presentation on the modern and future workforce. More details HERE