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NEW GENERATION: Tips for the Old Gen CA(SA) Director and Manager

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In our profession we have people that are as passionate about the development of the NEW GEN CA(SA) as are all of us! I was privileged to connect with two such leaders. They are Trevor Hartley, director at WOW Experience and Andrew Abdo, director at Atcor. On a daily basis the people in WOW and Atcor interact and work with the profession’s Gen Y and develop the New Gen CA(SA) in technical and professional skills.

During our interaction, Trevor and Andrew mentioned valuable tips that can help our “Old Gen CA(SA)” directors and managers when working with their New Gen CA(SA) team. As an on-the-job-manager, mentor and coach, we are facilitators of learning, and engage, equip and empower the New Gen CA(SA) on a daily basis. It is therefore important that we have the skills to engage, equip and empower.

A first important TIP that I have taken from my talk with Trevor is that, we need to have a clear definition, understanding and implementation of mentoring and coaching. Although both methods have the goal to instil learning, the way each method is done is very different and the end-result is not the same. To understand this, let me as a starting point clarify the definitions of coaching and mentoring according to Therapeia:

In a coaching relationship the coach is the expert in the learning process. A coaching relationship has a defined time-span. The coach asks the questions, listens and guides the coachee on his/her holistic learning journey. The coachee answers the questions and, by reflectively talking, he/she makes meaning of his/her learning. The end-result is for the coachee to develop as a whole person.

In a mentoring relationship, the mentor is the expert in a specific discipline/skill. A mentoring relationship is normally ongoing. The mentor directs and gives answers to the mentee on the tools and strategies needed to master a discipline/skill. The mentee asks the specific questions to learn the right approach from the mentor. The end-result is for the mentee to master the specific discipline/skill.

A second important TIP that I have taken from Andrew’s response is we need to help our New Gen CAs(SA) to see their training period as one small part and a learning opportunity in their career journey, and not the means to an end. Gen Y grew up and was exposed to a global world that is changing quickly at a very fast pace. Gen Y is comfortable with the use and design of modern communications, media and digital technology, and it is second nature constantly to update themselves and each other with what is happening in the world. It is easy for them to know that they should be constantly updating their skills so that they are desirable to potential employers all the time and at any time. Because of readily available career-path information at the touch of a button, they are also very clear about what are their interests, and where they are going in terms of their careers. However, they often don’t realise that to get there requires time and experience to obtain all the skills necessary, and that they need many learning opportunities such as their training period to get there. We need to embrace and harness their “fast-track approach” in a positive manner, and help our New Gen CAs(SA) learn the value of how it takes time, experience, and reflective learning opportunities to prepare them for their dream careers.

A third TIP that I have taken from both Trevor and Andrew is that we need to help our New Gen CAs(SA) to develop as holistic leaders. We cannot overemphasise the value of the holistic business leader. We need to guide them to develop their technical skills as a leader, as a manager, and to have a broad business orientation. The New Gen CA(SA) will need to be a good business advisor in any role: entrepreneur, auditor, financial officer, tax advisor, strategic advisor, financial coach. They are the next generation of business leaders. They have an important contribution to make to keep us competitive and truly world class on a sustainable basis. And we, the Old Gen CAs(SA), play a large part in making that happen!

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