Philips´ New Generation High Potentials: Exploring their expectations regarding leadership and career development.
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Executive summary Philips is highly dependent on the knowledge and skills of its employees for its viability and growth. One way to obtain this knowledge is to attract and retain highly-educated and talented people. But with an ageing workforce and fewer young people entering the labor market, attracting and retaining the right talent is becoming ever-more difficult. Moreover, the new generation entering the workforce – Generation Y – is believed to have different needs and wants than previous generations. The objective of this study is to explore the needs, wants and preferences of Philips high potentials (HPs), specifically with respect to leadership style and career development, in order for Philips to maintain an attractive and effective talent development program. The following question is central to this research: What expectations do Philips high potentials– belonging to Gen Y – hold with regard to leadership and career development and to what extent are these expectations met by Philips? To gain insights on the preferences of Philips´ HPs, a survey was constructed adopting items from the Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire (MLQ), reflecting Bass’ (1985) transactional – transformational leadership theory, and from Schein’s (1985) Career Orientation Inventory (COI). To keep the data collection logistically manageable, the main areas for Philips – North America, the Netherlands, China, India, Brazil, Singapore and Hong Kong – were covered in this research. The survey was distributed to 417 HPs meeting the pre-set location and year of birth requirements. A total of 312 surveys were used in the data analysis – a 75% response rate. Findings reveal that Philips´ HPs strongly prefer a transformational leadership style over a transactional leadership style. Philips meets these expectations to a fair extent as presently 63.2 per cent of the HPs perceive their manager to be (strongly) transformational. This result is encouraging, particularly because a considerable amount of literature has found evidence that transformational leadership can positively contribute to the retention of employees. Findings regarding preferred career orientations were quite surprising and are believed to offer Philips some very interesting opportunities. After general management, it was found that service and dedication to a cause, and lifestyle are the preferred career orientations among Philips´ HPs. Philips needs to recognize that the new generation talent finds it important to align work activities and skills with personal values. They want to contribute to society, and also to spend more time with their families. Technical/ functional competence and security and stability (economic security and geographical stability) were the least preferred career anchors. The HPs’ level of satisfaction on the development opportunities the High Potential program offers them varies somewhat. Results show that 45.2 per cent of the participants is satisfied with the High Potential program and that 12.1 per cent is dissatisfied. The rest of the HPs is neither satisfied nor dissatisfied. This indicates there is some room for improvement regarding the High Potential program. HPs have particularly indicated that they seek more function-related development opportunities and more learning opportunities in general. Philips could address this need by offering HPs a broader range of courses and seminars on subjects that relate to the various functions they are operating in. Findings on preferred career orientations among Philips´ HPs can also be used for attracting new talent. Values regarding both service and dedication to a cause and lifestyle are incorporated in Philips’ way of working; however, it is doubted whether Philips is perceived as such among graduates. To increase the inflow of young talent, Philips should make its business and its strengths more visible to graduates by often attending career events, organizing business courses and even by presenting at universities. Now that the global economy is showing signs of recovery, the labor market will tighten further. An active approach towards the attraction of graduates, while addressing the things that are of value to this new generation, is necessary to maintain the inflow of talented people.