Q&A with Scott Derthick the “People and Culture Guy” Peckham #SHRM16


Yep! That’s Scott’s actual title! It used to be just “The HR Guy”, but as Peckham grew, and his team grew, Scott had to get with the times. Basically, Scott is the CHRO of Peckham.

I wanted to write about Scott and Peckham because I love their story! Peckham is an organization started with the concept of assisting more people with disabilities to obtain skills to get into the workforce. Along five lines of business, they make clothing for the great men and women of the armed forces. It’s grown to add refugee workers as well. As you might imagine, Peckham’s work environment can get quite complicated with all those moving pieces!

It’s not just about performance management at Peckham, they are doing “life” management for most of their workforce. It’s a higher calling to be sure, but one that Scott and his team find so satisfying!

Here is my conversation with Scott:

(Tim) Peckham has an extraordinary mission as a nonprofit rehabilitation organization that simultaneously manufactures goods and acts as a human services agency. This in itself is a major leadership challenge. How does this effective managing multiple generations in the workplace, or does it? 

(Scott) Because of what we do, we must put the needs of each person first.  We have always worked to find ways that the job can fit the person rather than the person fit the job.  This same philosophy applies to people of all generations.  Each of us is unique but understanding the similarities in each generation, gives you some insight (perhaps) into how to most effectively work with each person on an individual as well on an aggregate level. 


What is leadership missing in managing multiple generations in the workplace today? 

Probably the biggest thing is the fear of the unknown.   When the X’ers started into the work place, the generations before them thought they were lazy and didn’t know what they were doing.  As I am sure that same fear was attached to previous generations.  However, by gaining knowledge of what ‘excites’ and ‘motivates’ each generation will help you determine how to best work together.  Leadership needs to not fear the change but look for the benefits that the Millennials are now bringing.  Who wouldn’t like more flexibility?  Who doesn’t want to be part of something bigger than themselves?  Who doesn’t feel like being more environmentally friendly is important?  Who doesn’t want to make sure all the voices are heard?  Well, probably several…but they also probably want to assume the world will just stay the same.    


Give us three things organizations can start doing tomorrow to better manage multiple generations in the workplace. 

Gosh, only three? 

1) I would say first is to work on their transparency.  The parents of the Millennials (us Boomers) raised them as our BFFs, and therefore we shared EVERYTHING with them…and I mean EVERYTHING.  So now that they are coming into the work place it is confusing to them why they aren’t allowed to know all the ‘deets’.   So the expression that you ‘need to know’ has really ‘got to go’. 

2)  Currently only 15% of people in management are Millennials, however within the last year, the Boomers dropped from the top spot in the workforce to #3.  The X’ers had the brass ring for about 4 months and are now back to #2.  However, now the Millennials are the largest sector of the workforce.  By 2020 they will comprise 50% and by 2025 they will be 75% of the workforce.  So continuing to think you have more time to wait in embracing them and learning about them is a bit ‘cray cray’.

3)  Invite them to the ‘table’.  If we leave it up to the Boomers (and X’ers) to decide ‘where we go from here’…we are not only way off base, but totally missing the tidal wave that is approaching or already here.  Boomers have put in their time and want to leave a legacy to show all their hard work and contributions, but if we don’t do it in a way that is respectful and current, we will be the dinosaurs headed to the tar pit.  Embracing their beliefs and strengths and passions will ensure not only a smooth transition but carry our visions into the future.  They want to learn from the Boomers and we Boomers love to talk and ‘be heard’…so it should be a great match.


Anything else you want to tell me that would get people to pick to come to your session over the 500 other ones?

We have been known to try and use humor and some tough love.  So it might be the only presentation that talks about Viagra and it’s uses!  Only in a purely scientific and HR kind of way (of course).   Seriously, we like to have fun and hopefully people will realize that all their employees need to be engaged.  I remember when Jack Welsh was at SHRM a few years ago, he said anyone on a team, needs to know their job on the team.  We need to help HR folks dive into the fray and start addressing all the white elephants in the room.  According to SHRM survey, the number one and number two concerns of HR folks are how to develop and retrain their best talent, and how to prepare future leaders and the boomers are quickly exiting the workforce (at a rate of 10,000 a day).  So let’s make sure we provide that leadership to our organizations.

To see Scott Derthick's session at the 2016 SHRM Annual Conference, please click here





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