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Joseph K. Hart: Dealing with generational gap is one of the main challenges for managers around the world

Joseph K. Hart. Photo: Abhijit Bhatleka/Mint.

Mumbai: Joseph K. Hart was appointed as chief executive officer and president of the 102-year-old Dale Cargenie Training in 2015. Present over 90 countries, the institute runs leadership training, professional development, performance improvement, leadership training, and employee engagement programmes across the globe.

In an interview during his first visit to India, Hart said he believes the country is one the most dynamic market and seen a consistent growth in terms of the institute’s business. He said one of the key themes that Dale Carnegie Learning is focused on is how to address the issue of generation gap at workplace between the older generations and the millennials.

Edited excerpts:

How important is India in your overall business?

We are present in 91 countries. One of the places that I really wanted to get this year was India. Part of the reason is because while we have great operations all over the world, we are doing very well in India and I also see that the Indian market is very important one and a strategic one where we are anticipating continued growth over a long period of time.

I have been with Dale Carnegie for the last two years but what i have seen and what I have known is our operations here have grown significantly and consistently. It’s a dynamic market place and young market and a lot of changes have happened from talent standpoint.

One of the biggest works of Dale Carnegie is the work around leadership training. What are the some of the issues and concerns that leaders across the corporate world are trying to cope with right now?

A number of issues I see consistently around the world. One of it is the generational interaction or the gap in interaction between the millennials, generation X and the baby boomers. How to deal with some of the challenges and gaps these generations have in workplace. Even within people of narrow gap in age group, they have a difficult time while interacting.

Another thing is around the topic of teaming . The workforce is changing and a lot of emphasis has been is on relationship between the managers and employee. Now particularly with the millennials, there is a lot of focus on team based activities and project based programmes.

So the question is how do you foster and support interaction between teams because now you need to interact not just on one-on-one or personal level but multiple levels. So those are some of the issues that we seeing.

Have you designed any programmes to address those issues and do you plan to bring some of your programmes in India when it comes to addressing the issues of millennials at workplace?

We conducted a leadership survey of 14 countries cross. Its a cultural leadership survey and we asked what are some of the best ways to bring out the best in you. We identified traits that are really important and we are working with some of our operations around the world to align with our teaching and training standpoint.

We do have programmes in India as well. We have been in the business for 100 years, The programmes that we have in India are proven across generations. I was in a programme in New York and a lot of millenials in it.

The things and principles that we teach them are high impact. In fact we see great results from a survey standpoint from people who take those programmes. We design programmes incorporating some of our time proven principles and apply them to a group whether it’s for millennials or other forms of group.

Millenials is one of the topics that comes up most of the time now. It’s a cross-cultural phenomenon. How do I engage with the workforce?

The value system with the millennial is perceived to be different. Maybe how they engage is also little different, their expectations are different, their desire to be in a one position for one period of time is different. So part of what we are trying to do even with the older managers is to understand what are the nuances that works with the millennial.

For example, one of the things that’s important to millenials we know is finding value and that’s not just financial value in a job, people will take lesser money if they are really connected with the missions of the business. One of the things we talk in our programmes is understanding the person and its aspirations.

When it comes leadership skills, how different is the Indian society compared with the rest of the world?

Part of the reason why I’m here is to learn. I have had a chance to meet with some amazing companies and understand some of the situations that they have here in India. There are certain things that we are seeing all over the world and they are probably consistent here as well. One of which is the sense of empathy and emotional quotient or intelligence because you are working with people with different views and different values.

So that really requires them (leaders) a sense of understanding, because what is happening is people tend to judge, people tend to make assumptions and those assumptions could be undermining from a relationship standpoint.

For example, what we consistently hear people say is “oh this generation doesn’t work and they just want their way and so forth”, but those are assumptions based on what they see. Often what we try to do is help people understand by putting them into the other person’s situation.

It is also important to demonstrate appreciation for what they see. People need to build trust and people need to be willing to listen and understand.

So there is a level of relationship that is required or needs to be worked upon not just in India but everywhere in the world whether it is in Taiwan, Africa or any European countries.