March 13th 2013

Generation Y and the question of leadership.

How demographic changes affect the conditions of work.
Walter Huber, Corporate Vice-President Human Resources, Siemens AG

Within the framework of the MCI Alumni & Friends lecture series Walter Huber, the Corporate Vice-President Human Resources of Siemens AG, was invited by the Entrepreneurial School® to hold a lecture on 12 March 2013 and give an insight into the company and, specifically, the human resources management policies of Siemens.

Huber first highlighted the different needs of different employee groups, which he defined as traditionalists, baby boomers, generation X and generation Y respectively. In his opinion the most important objective in human resources management is to take into account each employee’s individual situation, and to adjust the conditions of work to these specific circumstances and needs.

The generation Y (1977-2000) grew up in a world of technological innovations, which entailed massive changes in communication behavior, increased flexibility and mobility and new work methods and techniques. According to Huber, these advances are on the one hand a favorable development, from both the employer’s and the employee’s perspective, but on the other hand also entail certain negative consequences for the young generation. Being “online” all the time also means being exposed to a never-ending flow of information and the constant risk of overtaxing oneself.

Employer attractiveness depends on four factors. In this regard leadership culture is of vital importance, Huber said, stressing the point with a quote by David V. Lorenzo: “People join companies but they leave managers.” This emphasizes that a bad leadership culture has a massive impact on the commitment and loyalty of employees: social skills are as important in a good manager as professional skills.

In summarizing his lecture Huber also referred to the enormous burden of expectations managers have to face, and emphasized that today, more than ever, successful human resources management depends on tailor-made solutions to suit the specific situation and individual circumstances.

The lecture was chaired by Hans Herbert Holzamer, freelance journalist, writer and lecturer at MCI.