Business Monday

CEOs: Employees of diverse generations learn from each other and foster positive workplaces

This week’s question to South Florida CEOs who are on the Miami Herald CEO Roundtable: How do you foster a positive and productive workplace, particularly when different generations view the role of the workplace in their lives differently?

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Positivity influences productivity and vice versa. While different generations may view the role of the workplace differently, I don’t believe that they view their role in progress differently. Fostering both positivity and productivity begins with first-rate talent acquisition, and followed closely by trust, support and accountability.

Vance Aloupis, CEO, The Children’s Movement of Florida

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The first step to fostering a positive and productive workplace is being aware of the generational differences, because as we all know, good business is based on understanding others. By building on the strengths of employees from the various generations (i.e., Baby Boomers, Generation X and Generation Y), GHETC uses the assets of each member to work toward the project at hand.

Margaret “Peggy” Bass, executive director, Good Hope Equestrian Training Center

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Carrfour has grown tremendously over the past five years. This growth has enabled us to open new positions, many of which have been filled with younger employees. However, we still have employees that have been with the organization for more than 20 years. The cultures and values of these different generations have been a tremendous asset to the organization. The younger generations have brought new energy, innovation and a push for more flexibility in the workplace. Our older employees bring a deep commitment to the organization’s mission rooted in their many years of service. They also bring experiences of what has worked and what hasn’t. The blending of generations has ensured that the organization continues to evolve, while still remaining true to its original vision and mission.

Stephanie Berman-Eisenberg, president, CEO, Carrfour Supportive Housing

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We always strive to foster an “open” culture, both in terms of design and in atmosphere. This inclusive atmosphere helps drive collaboration and allows us to view problems from different angles, something which is pushed to new heights when people of different ages and levels of experience are working together to tackle a problem. This kind of diversity is definitely a benefit in our business.

Michael A. Comras, president, The Comras Company of Florida

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To foster a positive and productive workplace, we hold quarterly performance review meetings where we let every single employee know where he or she stands in relationship to the overall company objectives. We are transparent, fair and clear in our expectations. This creates an open culture where team members can be heard, and everyone can make a difference regardless of age or experience.

Jose R. Costa, CEO, For Eyes

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Gastro Health employs more than 600 people, from part-time students to physicians from all age groups. Our executive team regularly communicates with our employees to learn what is important to them, what we are doing right, what we can improve on. We administer yearly surveys company-wide, managers hold daily huddles with staff, we have monthly managers’ meetings in person, survey employees when they leave the company, and ask for feedback during all of these meetings. One of the committees that we have formed to address workplace feedback is the Staff and Physician Burnout Committee. This group is working on ideas to assist staff and professionals on dealing with burnout.

Alejandro Fernandez, CEO, Gastro Health

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It certainly requires an awareness that each generation has different priorities, and they approach their day differently too. We’ve actually found that the interactions between the different generations have created some interesting synergies, especially on our job sites. The older generation is able to offer a knowledge base that can only come with experience, whereas the younger generation is very tech savvy and able to share that with the more tenured team members.

Jeff Gouveia, president, general manager, SE region, Suffolk

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Building a strong organizational culture is a process that is ongoing and requires engaging all employees regardless of what generation they identify with. Efforts are continuously made to have team staff meetings both at the department and organizational level to share how we can work more productively and how the executive office can be more supportive. Staff retreats, holiday parties and recognition days make a difference.

Willie Logan, founder, CEO and president, Opa-locka Community Development Corp.

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Knowing what is important to each person is hard but important. Some want time off, recognition, autonomy, promotion or salary increases. Know your people and try to personalize the goals, recognition and reward.

Raymond Mobayed, owner, 4IT Inc.

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We have extremely skilled, diversified individuals across all positions and we like to make sure they know they are supported and rewarded. We have a significant amount of young, up-and-coming individuals who are energetic, positive and poised for leadership, complemented by seasoned professionals who are not only consummate professionals, but make mentoring their staff nothing short of their life’s work. I believe that passion translates into opportunities that ultimately build great guest experiences and creates employee satisfaction. Great experiences are delivered through people and that is why all of these passionate individuals can also provide great and memorable experiences to our guests. When employees first start, we provide a special training program called The Storyteller, which is designed to develop passionate, enthusiastic, and vibrant storytellers. A Biltmore Storyteller provides every guest they encounter with more than a mere memory of their stay at The Biltmore Hotel. We teach the importance of being passionate about our property, building genuine relationships with our guests and each other, taking personal ownership for quality and detail, taking pride in achieving your personal best. After employees have been with us for some time, we also provide a program called Passion Plus, which is a quarterly training and mentorship program. In this program, we have a storyteller credo: Become the best version of yourself. Understand your habits and develop your character. Maintain 4th level energy. Follow your dreams. Have high emotional intelligence. Put the needs of the guest before your own. At the Biltmore, I consider all employees to be leaders with opportunities, and therefore we also provide a quarterly Leadership Week, where leaders from all over the country provide sessions on the importance of being storytellers that connects us to our guests and to utilize the resources we provide to be pillars in our community.

Gene Prescott, president and CEO, Biltmore Hotel, Coral Gables

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In our case, it is relatively simple because our team shares not only a common goal but also a common passion. While we have a very talented team and a diverse workplace in terms of nationality, age, race, etc., we all share a passion for sports in general and soccer in particular. This creates not only a great environment but also a sense of unity. Soccer is a global unifier and there is no better example of that than our organization.

Juan Carlos Rodriguez, president, Univision Deportes

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The development industry is literally built on collaboration. Older, more experienced employees bring time-tested skill and expertise, while newer members of the team bring enthusiasm and energy. The differences in age, and perspective, keep the whole team on their toes and really push everyone to bring their A-game.

Carlos Rosso, president, The Related Group’s Condominium division

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In our working environment, our team comprises people of all ages and generations. The one thing that keeps everyone cohesive is simply respect and motivation. Many of our millennials work great together with other generations and all are always willing to learn from each other and move forward.

Stan Rudman, CMO and owner, Sportailor Inc.

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I have found that the best way to bridge the generational divide is to foster greater understanding and an appreciation for each other’s experience, knowledge, motivations and the factors that have shaped their world view. In the past, I did this with much success through the creation of a cross-generational task force of employees. What I know is that no single generation has all the answers, and by collaborating, coming together and communicating with one another, we can better build on each other’s strengths.

Kim Stone, general manager and EVP, AmericanAirlines Arena

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We work very consciously on ensuring everyone is on the same page by having regular group meetings, asking for feedback, recognizing “small wins” and communicating our progress continuously. We express mutual respect for all levels of the organization and all generations, which sends a message that everyone has something to contribute.

Teri Williams, president, CEO and a director, OneUnited Bank

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We hire differing age groups because in our industry they have very definable advantages. Our younger staff is hired for talent and technological prowess. Our more mature hires, for knowledge and experience, and they work together on projects to foster the optimal results we are looking for. We have wellness trips, game rooms, happy hours, in-house educational seminars and also opportunities for people to participate in many aspects of the profession and business.

Bernard Zyscovich, founder and CEO of Zyscovich Architects

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THE MIAMI HERALD CEO ROUNDTABLE IS A WEEKLY FEATURE THAT APPEARS IN BUSINESS MONDAY OF THE MIAMI HERALD. RECENT QUESTIONS HAVE INCLUDED:

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