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by Georges Panayotis

In sports, politics or business, knowing how to decide not to run one race too many, not to take on one too many mandates, not to do one exercise too many is evidence of having a good understanding of the outside world and the need to renew teams.

Undoubtedly, it is easier to know one's limits in sports, but this must not stop managers from regularly examining their abilities to keep up with the flow, to anticipate trends rather than be subject to them, to not see themselves as the sole holders of the truth of their experience, but so they may benefit from what younger generations have to offer while preparing them to take the helm one day.

Regardless of the public discourse or declared will, transmission is undoubtedly the most difficult exercise there is because it also involves letting go. It is quite natural to hold onto one's seat or the spot one is in when one is convinced the successor is not ready and one can resist the ups and downs a bit longer. Transmission should be part of the natural process of any manager who accepts he is neither immortal nor omniscient. But in a world where the competition is used as an engine for progress, the transmission of knowledge is perceived as "dispossession", as well as means of accelerating the rise in power of young wolves seeking power.

It is only possible to regret the obvious failure of the "generation contract", one of the cornerstones of a program presented during François Hollande's candidature to be France's president. The implementation of a senior-junior tandem was not a success. And yet it aimed to resolve two problems at once: keep senior citizens working and earn qualification for young employees. The same is true with apprenticeships which are struggling to take off, although it is one of the reasons behind Germany's low unemployment rate.

France continued to evolve within a context of generations that oppose rather than complement one another. Companies are wary of general studies programs and diplomas in general, even if they are a necessary rite of passage. The priority of human resources is to instill the corporate culture in young recruits and boast the benefits of internal promotion through training modules, programs in private schools, the creation of its network… But good intentions have their flip side. The corporate spirit can become a clan spirit that respects the hierarchy of the dominant male, training teams becomes the way into a "stable" that will continually co-opt its members by sidelining rivals. It is at this stage that innovation may become an obstacle because it upsets the established equilibrium. The innovation becomes disturbing because it encourages questioning the teams in place. Harebrained ideas invented by young geeks need  tempering to avoid upsetting an entire business model that is more or less reassuring. The evolution of different sectors thus happens through "disruption" and no longer by prepared stages. Baby boomer managers are on the defensive whereas they should accept, integrate, solicit a contribution from  generations Y and Z that will undoubtedly have another idea on how to steer business that is not necessarily less effective. They will be, and already are, more in touch with the expectations of the clientele of tomorrow that they resemble.

A Greek philosopher once said: "He who passes on no legacy of knowledge dies twice." This statement deserves some consideration in order to go beyond empty discourse and truly pass the flame with no feeling of losing authority or competency. 

About Georges Panayotis

Georges Panayotis is President of MKG Consulting. Born in a family of hoteliers for three generations, Georges Panayotis, 51, left Greece at the age of 18 to pursue his studies in Political Sciences and to obtain his Master in Management at the French University of Paris Dauphine. He then joined the Novotel chain, which will become the Accor Group, to manage the International Marketing Division. After developing specific marketing tools for the hotel industry, he left the group in 1986 to start his own company, MKG Conseil, now MKG Group. In twenty years, the group has become the European leader in studies and consulting for the Hospitality industry. The company employs over 70 people in four departments: marketing studies, database, quality control and trade press, with two publications HTR Magazine and Hotel Restaurant Weekly. The company helped the development of over 2,000 hotels in France and in Europe, with offices in Paris, Cyprus and London. Georges Panyotis is the founder of the Worldwide Hospitality Awards and the Hotel Makers Forum, and the author of several publications on Marketing and Operations in the hotel business, He is a regular consultant for several television channels, among which Bloomberg Television, and radio networks.

Contact: Georges Panayotis

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