It was reported earlier this month that Sony Corp chairman Howard Stringer is retiring from his role at the company and will step down in June. Kazuo Hirai, president and chief executive of Sony, said in a statement that Howard “will be deeply missed” and had an “incomparable ability to inspire and invigorate all of those around him”. But how do senior-level exits such as this impact staff dynamics?

Seventy-one year-old Stringer, who became the first non-Japanese person to be Sony’s chief executive in 2005, clearly demonstrated a motivational style of leadership during his time there. But when an inspiring manager is lost, there is always a risk that morale, direction and productivity can be affected.

A company’s culture should never be defined by a single personality. And it is the role of HR professionals to ensure that an employer brand is representative of the workforce across every level. Today’s HR departments can find themselves managing five generations of professionals with very different ideas and ideals. Traditionalists, baby boomers, gen-x, gen-y and gen-z now work alongside each other and will all have different needs, experience and work styles. We should celebrate this diversity and foster an environment where every member of staff benefits from the strengths of others within their team.

Relying too heavily on a single figurehead for inspiration is not conducive to a productive working environment. We need to ensure that we retain the values of traditionalists, while embracing the ideals of generation z. A successful brand is more than just a sum of its parts. And by creating and nurturing a strong and resilient employer brand, HR professionals can ensure a senior level exit is the beginning of a new phase – rather than the end of a business as we know it.    

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