Should We Call Millennials… ‘Millennials’?

I was recently asked about an article published in the Ottawa Citizen titled ‘Liberal government advised not to call young people ‘Millennials’ lest they be insulted’ which writes, “Don’t call young people ‘Millennials’ because they find the term offensive.” The article references focus groups conducted for Employment and Social Development Canada.Fragile Millennial

Here is my view. We are not finding a solution if we drop the word ‘Millennial’. The word ‘Millennial’ isn’t the challenge, the challenge is our intention… it’s that so many people use it to refer to this generation being ‘lazy, entitled, distracted, self-absorbed, impatient’… I can go on. What many people don’t talk about is how this generation is ‘smart, creative, want meaningful work, are socially responsible and motivated (when motivated in the right way)’… I can go on here as well.

Millennials (and Gen Z), are not as fragile as many people think!!!

Let’s realize we could call any generation ‘Gold Dust’ but if we only speak poorly about them we will all learn to find the term offensive. Even the words ‘Gold Dust’ would become a derogatory and insulting label that would elicit strong negative connotations. When we make decisions about someone’s character and abilities (especially negative decisions), based on age, culture, gender or any other characteristic, we are identifying ourselves as the challenge.

It’s not about the labels we call each other, it’s about
learning as much as we can about each other.

It’s good for our relationships, our workspaces and good for society when we cultivate positive intention and positive emotions. We will build compassion. This isn’t about tolerating a different person, a different point of view or a different generation… it’s about making positive choices to learn as much as we can about each other and to reward collaboration over competition.

For example, when I facilitate Generational Differences training I often begin by saying that if I were faced with a problem to solve, I would rather a room filled with Millennials than a room without. I want Millennials because of the freshness, creativity, comfort using technology they bring. I want them because most enjoy collaboration and they work hard when given challenging and important work… and not immediately restricted / controlled as to how they SHOULD solve it. I don’t describe their faults, I introduce their positive nature. Maybe it’s coincidence, but I don’t think so… but I have not been asked to stop referring to them as Millennials. Quite the opposite – they sit up and often become very engaged in the conversation / training. In short, they do what they love doing… they contribute… they share their voice… they collaborate.

Most Millennials work hard when given challenging, important work.
Most Boomers and Gen X work hard also.

If you are holding onto a negative impression of a person, a generation or a culture, I encourage you to do a bit of self-reflection to explore how your negative impression is benefiting you… emotionally or otherwise. You may discover you have some intrinsic motivation (personal or professional benefit), that makes you want to hold onto your belief. Step outside of your comfort zone. When you feel awkwardness, this may be a good signal that you have an opportunity to change some misconceptions that may be holding you… and holding others back.

How can you change your perspective about Millennials… or any other person, generation or culture? Using Millennials as an example… talk with some about their interests, their hopes, dreams, fears. Get to know them… be curious. What has it been like growing up? Share what it was like for you to grow up…and your interests, hopes, dreams and fears. It’s amazing what happens when we have a conversation and learn about each other. This may not be easy at first — your first few conversations might be a bit awkward, but you will get the hang of it. Approach the conversations with positive thoughts and kindness… with the objective to understand – not judge.

In the end, you may agree with me that there is nothing wrong with identifying someone from one generation or another. There are many generational characteristics of Millennials we should all embrace. Same with Boomers and Gen X.  Same with Gen Z. But, let’s look at the opportunities the individual brings to our relationships and our organization based on their life experiences and how these experiences have helped them evolve… as well as their values and what excites them. Oh, and then… let’s not forget their experiences and education. Let’s explore what the ‘People’ we hire can do vs. what they cannot do.

Happy communicating, mentoring and working with people from all generations.

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Bruce Mayhew Consulting is an Executive Coach who facilitates courses including Business Writing, Email Etiquette, Generational Differences, Time Management, Leadership and Mindfulness.

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Why I Believe Millennials Are Marginally Motivated

In the last 3 months my ‘Hiring, Motivating and Retaining Millennials’ workshop has been my most popular program. I’ve trained at a few companies and spoken at a golf conference, a long-term care conference and even a heavy machinery conference. No matter who my audience is, one of the most frequent questions I’m asked is, “How do I get the best out of Millennials and keep them more than 18 months“. It’s a great question. There are many concerned leaders who believe Millennials are only ‘marginally motivated’ when it comes to their work.

That’s what I would like to address over the next few minutes. My goal is to share three key reasons why I believe Millennials are marginally motivated at work.

Reason 1: We Don’t Hire The Right People

Some Millennials take jobs that are not in their chosen profession. You may wonder, ‘Why would someone take work they don’t really want?’ The simple truth is many Millennials may need the money, or they may be tired of looking for work, or perhaps they want to make sure there isn’t a gap in their resume. There are many reasons why a Millennial might compromise, and whatever the reason, it is not good for you or for them.

If your new Millennial employee feels they are compromising (and my Millennial At Work Survey research says that many Millennials feel they have to compromise), it’s not surprising that during that time with you they will be ‘Marginally Motivated’ and you’ll only get 50%, 60% or perhaps 70% of their effort. In addition, it should not surprising that they keep looking for work they really do want.

This is why it is critical to hire the right people. When you hire people whose career goals and personal values reflect the work and your corporate values, you will have engaged employees. When you use a hiring process that is measurable, accountable and reliable, you will have lower-than-average turnover and lower-than-average training expenses. In addition, all of your other success indicators will move in the right direction. If you are not using a formal hiring process it’s like gambling in Las Vegas… it’s risky, based on chance and will likely be expensive when you lose.

Reason 2: We All Excel When Respected

Millennials want to be respected and valued. They also want to feel they are making a contribution and want professional development opportunities. Lets face it, we all excel when we are respected, valued and feel we are making a contribution. You know that when you love something you spend lots of time doing it… you many even volunteer to do more of it.

The difference between Millennials and everyone else is that if a Millennial doesn’t feel they are growing / acquiring new skills or making a difference, they quickly feel frustrated and lose interest… which is why people think they are ‘Marginally Motivated’. And, because many parents of Millennials have not done a great job of teaching their kids patience, even if Millennials are working in their chosen profession, when they feel frustrated you will begin to have a retention problem.

NOTE: Millennials are life-long learners – these are values their Boomer and Gen X parents instilled in them.

Reason 3: Millennials Want Meaningful Work

Millennials see work as part of their whole life, something they want to enjoy and is / will be something that fulfills them. Millennials want their work to be meaningful and even (for many), a place where they make friends with their co-workers / leaders. Millennials also perform better when they are given frequent, positive reinforcement / encouragement.

Giving frequent reward and motivation to each employee isn’t ‘natural’ for Boomers. For 30 plus years Baby Boomers were the primary employment market. In addition (and this is critically important), for the most part each of them shared very similar goals. Generally speaking, Boomers never thought of work as a place to fulfill their passions. Boomers wanted stability; they didn’t want to take risks (and since change equals risk… it was bad). What Boomers wanted was mutual loyalty, to pay their mortgage and to collect wealth (which would give them even more stability). Very few Millennials share these values – for now at least.

Conclusion

Does this sound like too much effort? I hope not. Employers can only insulate themselves from Millennials (and the upcoming Gen Z), for so long. Soon, most of the Boomers will have retired and the largest workforce will be Millennials.

In case you don’t sense it, I do believe Millennials are hard-working, creative and loyal as long as we hire the right Millennial and support them / motivate them in the way that meets their individual, personal and professional goals. And, while they do want to be loyal, they do not expect to work for one company their whole career.

The benefits of hiring Millennials and motivating them as unique individuals is tremendously profitable. And this holds true for people of all generations. When a company is able to keep highly motivated employees (not marginally motivated employees), for five or more years instead of the two years so many employers are experiencing… and even expecting… it translates into a great pay-off (and saving), for the company AND a great learning experience for each employee.

Happy communicating, mentoring, motivating, coaching… and training.

Click here to learn more about Bruce Mayhew Consulting. We facilitate training courses and speak on a number of topics including email etiquette, time management, leadership, generational differences and more.

How To Motivate & Mentor Employees: Reward Is More Than Salary And Bonus

‘Work’ in general is becoming more interesting and less repetitive. We are living and working in a Digital Age and many of today’s jobs didn’t exist 10 years ago, and how we accomplish the jobs that do still exist has been rewritten. If this isn’t exciting enough, our workforce is also changing:

  • Boomers want to stay relevant and current – and also want more flexibility to enjoy their families and everything they’ve worked hard for.
  • Gen Xers want to make their mark and drive change while also keeping focused on their families and work/life balance.
  • Millennials (Generation Y) have entered the workforce and four of the many things they value are continuous learning, wanting work that’s meaningful, wanting to feel a sense of accomplishment and they want autonomy.

So in general, it’s fair to say that employees (even Boomers and Gen Xers), want to do work they feel passionate about. And this is a good thing… but requires us to learn how to manage and motivate employees (and ourselves), differently. And yet, many Boomers (still the largest group of Business Owners / Executives / Managers), have a challenge managing and motivating their employees – especially Millennials at work. For example, they give Millennials a job AND pay them… and wonder why they quickly become bored, want more and/or leave.

Times Have Changed: Motivate and mentor employees differently

Times have changed and Millennials and the emerging Gen Z are going to keep us moving forward. Millennials at work do want more… and so do most employees of all ages. The one thing to remember is that we all excel when we do work we are interested in. That’s the key.

We all excel when we do work we are interested in.

It’s like when we start a new job – we are excited – we are learning new things and meeting new people – we are creative – we ask questions – we even innovate… and then we get bored. The same happens with Millennials except their timeline is usually in months not years. So, how to do managers keep ALL employees of different generations excited? They have to motivate and mentor employees differently – and more specifically, they need to reward differently.

Here’s the thing… traditional reward and recognition systems are salary based with (hopefully), a raise and/or bonus every 12 months. Unfortunately money doesn’t motivate today’s employees for long.Reward As Money

Reward Is More Than Salary And Bonus

Traditional reward systems (salary / bonuses), assume that work is not inherently enjoyable; and 30 years ago most work wasn’t. But our work has changed in the Digital Age and we’ve all changed… we want to enjoy our work.

As Leaders, if we want a motivated workforce who produce at a high-level, more and more money is not an effective strategy (and is the most expensive approach). There are many intrinsic motivators that are rarely used that are proven to increase creativity, productivity and loyalty… and have little/low-cost, like C.A.R.P. motivators:

  • C – Competence / Mastery… learning new things – gaining experience and/or using an expertise.
  • A – Autonomy / Choice… like what to work on, when and how
  • R – Relevance / Purpose… why the work is meaningful – important
  • P – Progress… what they are doing is adding to the greater good (the what to the why answer)

Studies have proven that external rewards like traditional salary / bonuses, can have negative impact on problem solving and creativity (as two examples). Why? Because employees soon learn to expect the ‘reward’ and often become unmotivated if/when they don’t receive the ‘reward’ when they expect it.

Alternatively, employees who feel passionate about their work and who feel supported by the low/no-cost C.A.R.P. motivation and reward systems will almost always become creative, higher-than-average performers. In addition, when employees feel proud and excited about their accomplishments they demonstrate greater organizational loyalty and think twice before leaving. And, feeling proud and excited happens all the time – not once every 12 months.

Want Proof? Here’s An Example – Daniel H. Pink writes in his book ‘Drive’

“In a 2009 study MIT study led by MIT Sloan School of Management’s Pierre Azoulay and his colleagues compared two different ways to incentivize creativity in the sciences. They examined scientists who received grants from the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH), which emphasis external controls such as “short review cycles, pre-defined deliverables, and renewal policies unforgiving of failure.” Then they looked at scientists at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI), whose funding process “tolerates early failure, rewards long-term success and gives its appointees great freedom to experiment.” The result? HHMI investigators produced high-impact papers at a much higher rate than their similarly accomplished NIH counterparts.” Daniel H. Pink

Conclusion

In this busy, fast-paced work environment it’s important employers have confidence in their employees talent and give them enough autonomy to do their work and be proud of what they accomplish. Watching every move – double-checking every task is an ‘old-school’ way to motivate and mentor employees and will only slow down progress / productivity and make talented employees feel less professional and personal influence.

In addition, traditional motivation and mentoring systems will cost more both in money (salaries / bonuses), as well as the cost to replace unmotivated employees who quit after only a few months – or years.

Happy communicating, mentoring, motivating… and training.

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Loyal Millennials And Intergenerational Workspaces

Millennials in our intergenerational workspaces are accused of being narcissist, hard to manage, lazy, entitled and not loyal to their employer. And whether these behaviour traits are true or not (and I don’t think they always are), Millennials are changing how we all work and how employees are hired, motivated and rewarded.

There are real generational differences and conflict… as well as opportunities for everyone to step-up and change their behaviour.

When motivated, Millennials are loyal, hard-working and want to have purpose. It’s been drilled into them that if they go to post secondary education they will get a fantastic job with lots of money and ability to make a difference (they want purpose). But that’s not happening. The jobs are not there waiting for them and there are hundreds of other highly educated Millennials applying for the few jobs there are. Let’s face it – people of any generation would be disheartened.

When Millennials Do Get A Job – Expect Change

I believe Millennials bring more +’s to the table than –‘s. That said, I am the fist to say Millennials have to clean up some behaviours – like their writing skills. Sadly, one of the big intergenerational challenges many Millennials face (and the easiest way to ruin their reputation and sideline their success), is sloppy spelling, punctuation and sentence structure.Millennial Survey Results

Millennials are comfortable with quick moving, flat organizations – while Boomers are used to hierarchy. When Millennials were kids, they went to their coach or teacher when they had a question. At work, if their boss isn’t available they will innocently move up the ladder (or sideways), to ask the next best person. In addition, they’ll also likely go to Google, so will already have a second opinion that they’ll want to include in a discussion about their question.

When their supervisor says to do XYZ, Millennials immediately think “Why?” This is not confrontation or questioning authority, experience or leadership skills… it is one of value-add. They simply want to do what is best and learn from the experience. The challenge is that Boomers are not used to explaining every decision (and may see requests as confrontation).

One of the generational differences Boomers and GenXers have to accept is that Millennials are less interested in title and competition and much more interested sharing expertise, responsibilities and success. They were brought up in a collaborative environment and thankfully – they want to keep this structure going.

Boomers and GenXers have to accept Millennials want flexibility. They work to live, not live to work. Since they were children Millennials were learning and engaging from morning to night… that is how they were raised. Most organizations expect (although not formally documented), employees to check and answer email throughout the evenings and on weekends. So, what is the big deal if your employees get to the office at 9:30AM? Chances are, they were answering email all night – and all morning. So, business leaders have to put aside seeing everyone in the office at 8AM and be OK with a 9:30AM… or 10… as long as their work is getting done.

How To Manage Millennials

The one thing that Millennials are good at is change. They come with all of the new age technology and many lived social experience that employers want. They are hard workers, as long as senior management stop being ‘the boss’ and enjoy demonstrating their leadership skills and being their mentor. Leaders and mentors give guidance and direction – they open doors and coach – and that is what Millennials want.

Millennials want to be social at work. This means being friendly with co-workers and checking social media at work.

Leaders have to get used to a smartphone on their desk where they check their social media accounts from time to time. That flexibility helps leaders retain engaged, smart and committed employees. But flexibility and respect go both ways – with the ‘give’ from their leaders, Millennials will be happy to ‘give back’. Your request to turn off their smartphone during meetings and conference calls will be met and respected.

Conclusion

Millennials are loyal, hard-working employees when they are treated well. A recent ‘Millennials in the Workspace’ study we conducted at BMC identified that 65.38% of our Millennial participants would prefer to stay with one company for at least 5 years. Their top needs to be satisfied at work were (after salary):

  • Doing interesting work
  • Being respected and value
  • Their efforts being recognized by their peers and superiors
  • Feeling they were making a difference

Unfortunately, 50% of the participants in that same study expected to change jobs in the next 2 years or less. That tells me leadership skills have to change. Leaders in intergenerational organizations have work to do when it comes to hiring, motivating and retaining hard-working Millennial employees.

Happy communicating.

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Why Millennials Struggle With Work.

I’m both envious of and thrilled I’m not a Millennial.

Millennials (in developed countries), have so much potential. They are the most educated, well-traveled, technologically savvy, multicultural population to ever participate in an intergenerational workspace. And yet, they struggle to find success and balance. While they know what they don’t want, many are searching for what they do want.

Workspace Balance

Finding Equilibrium

Millennial Success or Failure?

Career choices for Millennials are far greater and the job market is changing all the time. Jobs that existed yesterday don’t exist anymore – jobs that don’t exist today will tomorrow. I think that choosing a job for Millennials is like looking through a Kaleidoscope that somehow keeps adding new colours; they are paralyzed by choice.

And, Millennials are expected to eventually navigate their way through 3, 4 even 5 careers (not jobs). Exhausting!

Let’s face it, being a Boomers was easier when we were in our 20’s and 30’s. We rode the wave of almost constant economic expansion from 1982-2001, so when we did decide to go job hunting – jobs existed. Choices were also predictable; the jobs we were applying for were mostly the same type of jobs that had existed for many years. Back then, it was not uncommon to join a company and expect to work there for most if not all of your career – climbing the corporate ladder until you ambition, your family and the companies need found equilibrium.

Millennials struggle not only because the exciting, fulfilling, well-paid jobs they expected are not out there. I believe they also struggle because making the wrong choice will count as a failure. When we consider generational differences, while Boomers saw / perhaps see an unplanned or imperfect job as an opportunity to gain experience – Millennials are concerned that anything other than the perfect choice will be seen as a failure that will leave a stain on their success for years… perhaps forever. Intergenerationally, Millennials have great fear that success will leave them behind and they will not live up to their potential.

Millennial Goals

Millennial SurveyIf / when they do ‘choose’ to compromise and take a job to “pay the bills”, they fear they are turning their back on their how hard they worked for their education as well as their dreams and ambitions. A recent ‘Millennials in the Workspace’ study we conducted at BMC identified that the first professional job 69.23% of our participants accepted was NOT in their chosen profession.

For those that do choose to compromise and apply for jobs to just pay the bills, they still experience disappointment. With one of the highest youth unemployment levels on record – Millennials are still feeling rejection as they don’t get a job they feel overqualified for.

No matter what generation you are from or your generational differences, that is hard to take – again and again.

Conclusion

Millennials see themselves as having lots of potential and want others to see that potential. They want others to know they are legit – that they are smart and have skills.

A Millennials ultimate goal is to get paid doing something they love. That’s why making the perfect choice is important for them. Their work is a place of meaning and pride – it’s far more than a paycheck, stability and the potential for a two-car garage. In many ways they don’t even want the two-car garage. They want their job to be fulfilling and an opportunity to learn.

Yup, they want individuality, uniqueness and success. They also want collaboration and to have access to mentors to ask for advice.

Happy communicating.

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Our Expectations Frame Our Experiences

Our expectations frame our experiences – no matter if we believe we:

  • Prefer summer over winter
  • Like light paint colours vs dark
  • Dislike vegetables
  • Expect Millennials to live up to the common negative stereotype

But what if we put aside biases, assumptions and judgements?

What if we approached an experience as new – looking forward to the experience vs. looking forward to a long list of disappointments.  Glass half full vs glass half empty?
Two

It’s important to be aware of our expectations as our workspaces become more diverse, filled with people with many generational differences, social differences and cultural differences. It’s also important as the work we do becomes more complicated. More and more the work we do requires us to and trust specialists. If we don’t stay open to innovation and new approaches to traditional ‘structures’ we get left behind quickly (example: Blackberry/Research In Motion).

Studies demonstrate our expectations frame our experiences and the behaviour of others. Studies with parents and children show that “Parents who believe they are simply being realistic might actually contribute to a self-fulfilling prophecy.”  Buchanan discovered that when mothers expected their children to behave badly more often than not… they did. Christy Buchanan, is a psychology professor at Wake Forest University and an author of a study that examined children and their mothers.

We Share Our Expectations In Many Ways

We share our expectations to others in many ways. It may be through our body language, facial expressions, words we use, vocal inflections, or of course even the opportunities we present. We might not realize we are expressing our expectations – and others may not realize they are picking up our expectations… but it does happen all the time.

Studies show that by changing our approach and our expectations we can change our audience’s expectations as well as their behaviour, their creativity, their success… ect.  You get the idea.

Change Your Expectations

There is so much opportunity out there. One of my training specialties is generational differences in the workspace, so, no surprise that is one of the strongest points I’d like to make.

When Boomers expect Millennials to be lazy, self-absorbed and entitled I believe this Millennial stereotyping is hurting corporate culture and success.

Generational differences are an opportunity. I believe Millennials are helping Boomers and Gen Xers see it. Millennials are collaborative and they want to both learn from people with more experience AND add value… and Millennials have lots of value to contribute.

Eliminate any doubts you have about others and replace them with an air of curiosity and opportunity. Change your expectations of others and see how your relationships and business approaches change.

Happy communicating.

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Bruce Mayhew Consulting facilitates courses including Generational Differences, Business Writing, Email Etiquette, Time Management and Mindfulness.

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Millennials, “Is there anything I can do to help?”

Most of the Millennial generation is already in the labour marker – and those that are not there yet will be there shortly… and the Gen Z generation is beginning to join in.

We can all agree this is a time of global economic adjustment, political unrest, environmental crisis and personal financial uncertainty for many. Uncertainty and change is the new norm – and global, corporate and personal behaviours are taking on an almost unimaginable swing trying to keep up.

Baby Boomers And Millennials Are Alike

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

But whenever there are challenges, there are also opportunities that a multigenerational workforce can help you take advantage of. And, Millennials have an incredible opportunity to change the world in a very positive and lasting way.

Millennials have a bad reputation – mostly as being lazy, materialistic, unfocused and self-absorbed. But as a Boomer, I can assure you my mother thought the same of me.

Millennials Are Used To Nice Things

Millennials are used to ‘having’ much and being ‘given’ much. Lets face it, their parents have been dressing them in designer jeans and surrounding them with technology since before they were walking (I’m looking at you fellow Boomers and some Gen X). Lets not forget – group sports, art and music classes, horse back riding lessons – all of which ultimately finishes with the largest number of college and university educated adults to have ever existed.

The result is that our 20-somethings are used to having many nice things and they are aware of international possibilities. They are – for the most part also the most accepting, least discriminating, most curious, most collaborative population… and they are not only used to change – they expect and strive for change.

Millennials are also much closer to their families (especially their parents). And, while their parents have given them much and promised them the world (I exaggerate a bit), when they are ready for work they are met with corporate merging / downsizing and a Boomer population that isn’t retiring. So, is this workforce frustrated? Sure… because they are not used to not getting what they were promised… and what they want.

The result is a large disenchanted population that is well-educated, with student debt (or not if their parents paid), who are working as waiters, waitresses, hotel receptionists if they are lucky – or as administrative assistants, analysts and entry-level associates if they are really lucky (largely because Boomers are not retiring and getting out of the way). The unlucky ones are unemployed and wondering if they should go back to school to get even more education.

But, Millennials are starting to get their chance. As they move up the corporate ladder, Millennials are starting to push change in all aspects of their life. From boardroom to political voting (which they avoided for years), I am excited about the changes I see them making.

Millennials Will Leave A Spectacular Legacy

I believe the legacy Millennials leave will be spectacular. I expect that as they re-imagine and rebuild our global economy they will calm the global violence that is currently running ramped. I also believe they will reverse global warming and the amount of pollutants we all too casually pump into our water, land, air and even space now.

The destruction left by Traditionalists, Boomers and some Gen X generations will be hard to recover from – but I believe Millennials and Gen Z will find a way to heal our economy, planet and sanity in a very positive way.

So, Millennials – I ask, “Is there anything I can do to help?” Times are tough but you live for change – so show the current multigenerational workforce how it’s done and how not to be freaked out. And – if you don’t mind, can you also figure out how to care for us Boomers when we get close to our final years?

Thanks

Happy communicating everyone.

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Bruce Mayhew Consulting facilitates courses including Generational Differences, Business Writing, Email Etiquette, Time Management and Mindfulness.

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Find answers to your Professional Development questions / needs at brucemayhewconsulting.com.

Call us at 416.617.0462.

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Millennials Are Changing How We Work Training Part 2

Millennials are changing how a multigenerational workforce works. For example:

  • A performance review once per year is no longer enough.
  • Working long hours with only a 2 week vacation is no longer enough.
  • The idea that if they work hard that eventually they will, ‘Have their chance’ is no longer enough.
  • A paycheck is no longer enough.
  • Being patient is near impossible.

In Part 1 of this series we began discussing the generation gap and how Millennials expectations are different. We also pointed out that Millennials are leading by example and changing what Baby Boomer and Gen X leaders want from their work and personal lives.

4 Generations At Work

4 Generations At Work

Lets continue that discussion.

Recognition

Unless you are calculating bonus amounts, one end-of-year performance review is not enough feedback for todays multigenerational workforce. Most Millennials prefer frequent, smaller wins. It’s not because Millennials are ‘needy’; in part it’s because Millennials want to do a good job and be proud of accomplishing something.

Receiving regular feedback lets your employees know they are doing a great job (they don’t want to do a ‘good job’), or gives them the opportunity to course correct – which means everyone saves time and money. The added value is that smaller wins boost feelings of engagement and ownership of the project – which is a significant benefit when it comes to work quality and productivity.

Footnote: It’s not only about Boomers and Gen Xers changing to close the generation gap and satisfy Millennials. Millennials are learning they should expect feedback less often than they would like… while Boomers & Gen Xers are learning to provide feedback more frequently.

Face-time With Leaders

Millennials grew up with lots of interaction with their parents, teachers, coaches and other leaders. They feel comfortable around them and see them as people they can learn from.

One great way a leader can engage Millennial employees is to have what I call laser meetings. For example: Once or twice a week have a fast 10 minute meeting to review objectives, progress and critical needs. It’s not a gabfest on the way to Starbucks – its meaningful and deliberate. In today’s fast paced workspace, face-time with leaders this is also becoming an effective tool to stay up to date with Boomer and Gen X employees.

Set Short Term Goals

In line with more frequent feedback, Millennials do better when they have short term goals they can celebrate.

Work with all employees to identify and agree upon goals to reach at the end of the week. As you discuss goals also discuss the learning opportunity; this is a great way to keep your whole team focused, motivated and invested in the project.

Collaboration

Most Millennials work best in teams. Ask a few Millennials to collaborate and to come up with a few solutions if you have a problem to solve. I’m certain you will be amazed.

That said, Millennials are demonstrating for Boomers and Gen Xers the value (and enjoyment), of being creative together. So, collaboration is a great opportunity for different generations to learn what is important to each other and to close the generation gap.

Loyalty

Loyalty isn’t what it used to be. If a Millennial isn’t happy they likely won’t stick around… even if they don’t have another job to go to.

People rarely leave companies they leave managers. This has been true for years and years and years; it’s just happening at a much faster pace with Millennials. If a Millennial doesn’t feel their boss is giving them challenging opportunities, supporting them and/or respecting their work… don’t expect them to stick around.

Appropriately motivating and recognizing all employees is cost-effective and will help keep all generations engaged and committed; Boomers and Gen X included.

Conclusion

Leading change is a daily occurrence for todays multigenerational workforce and while Millennials are changing how we work today, it’s likely going to speed up as technology continues to develop and Gen Z enter the workspaces.

Great leaders know that if they don’t manage Millennials (and now Gen Z), it will lead to conflicts in the workplace, lower productivity, job hoppers and higher re-hiring costs/re-training costs.

If you enjoyed this post we think you’ll like:

Bruce Mayhew Consulting facilitates courses including Business Writing, Email Etiquette, Time Management and Mindfulness.

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Millennials Are Changing How We Work Part 1

Millennials don’t mean to change how we work – they just are. Millennials (or Gen Y), are going after what they want – what their parents told them they deserved. “You can do anything.” “You are terrific.” “You shouldn’t settle.” Do any of those statements sound familiar?Screen Shot 2015-03-10 at 3.48.39 PM

I think its great Millennials are changing how we work and the overall management style. It’s because Millennials expectations are different from even the most conservative leaders are also changing their expectations. For example, more and more Boomers are embracing office collaboration, are taking advantage of technology and are seeing the advantages of flexible work schedules – for the benefit of business, its employees and their families.

Changing Corporate Culture

With four generations in the workplace and Millennials moving into leadership roles, management styles are also changing. For example, along with wanting ‘more’, Millennials find hierarchy a challenge. It’s not disrespect; it’s all about accessing information in a timely manner. If their bosses’ boss has what they need (and their boss is in a meeting), then the Millennials solution is to access the corner office and ask directly. And guess what – we are also seeing a shift where senior leaders are more comfortable giving information to different levels of the organization – and wanting to be called by their fist name.

Communication Protocols Get Tricky

Where Boomers and Gen X might be more comfortable with phone and face-to-face communications, Millennials and Gen Z might be more comfortable with IM or email. There is no one best answer… but there is value to different solutions. IM is instant but it can be more intrusive than email and IM is difficult to express complex ideas. Email allows for detailed explanation and is a good place to archive decisions. Phone, video and face-to-face allow for flexible dialogue, brainstorming and creativity.

While I teach full courses on effective communication, I hope you gather from this that we all need to stay flexible with how we communicate; one size does not fit all… no matter what generation you are from. Choice and flexibility are key for employees, friends and clients.

Workplace Flexibility

Workplace flexibility can mean different things to different people.

Flexibility might mean working at the cottage to make a well-deserved extra long weekend, or it might mean joining a conference call from home that is taking place in another time zone. Flexibility might also mean the ability to have open, non-judgmental discussion within a collaborative team – where everyone has an equal voice. Or, workplace flexibility might mean a 2-hour lunch, which gives you time to exercise and still grab a healthy lunch (supporting an employees mental, emotional, and physical well-being).

The take home is that workplace flexibility isn’t a luxury or a perk, it’s a respectful and necessary way of doing business AND it’s one of the new pillars that employee loyalty is built on… for all 4 generations.

The Changing Workplace

Millennials are leading the charge to change the workspace for everyone… including:

  • Greater desire for and ability to work in teams (Collaboration)
  • Wanting a friendly work environment
  • Knowing how they are making a difference – today
  • Knowing Why They are doing XYZ
  • Wanting to be challenged
  • A hunger to always be learning
  • Being hungry for feedback about goals and performance
  • Taking responsibility for mistakes – learning from them – and then move on… letting them go.
  • Opportunities to learn and grow
  • Feeling their contributions are recognized

Don’t Be Left Behind

A great friend of mine from Toronto just moved to Montreal to be with his aging Mom. His employer agreed to have him work remotely (600 kilometres).

The employers choice was really quite simple; A: Look at things differently or B: Lose a valued, experienced employee. Because of the choices they made, the employer now has a VERY loyal employee who doesn’t want to screw up the great opportunity that’s been shared with him.

Click here for Part 2 of this dialogue on How Millennials Are Changing How We Work.

Conclusion:

Millennials have grown up with technology and flexibility and instant access to information and instant feedback from their parents, teachers and coaches to Facebook and other social networks. So why shouldn’t they want this from their employers, mentors, friends and coworkers?

Happy communicating, experiencing, learning and changing.

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Bruce Mayhew Consulting facilitates courses including Email Etiquette, Managing Difficult Conversations, Mindfulness and more.

Give us a call at 416 617 0462. We’ll listen.

Bruce Mayhew on Canada AM

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Find answers to your Professional Development questions / needs at brucemayhewconsulting.com.

I’d enjoy reading your comments on this post.

Empathy and Work Ethics: Why And Where They Should Meet

How we build relationships and communicate with each other has changed from 30, 20, even 10 years ago… and is continuing to change. 

Courtesy of

Courtesy of “FreeDigitalPhotos.net”

People from all generations are rushing around, communicating by tapping the screens of smartphones and tablets vs. speaking with each other and paying attention to important physical senses like sight, sound and touch. The result is that Boomers and Gen X as well as Millennials and Gen Z are demonstrating low rates of expressed empathy.

On average, Millennials have grown into adulthood demonstrating lower empathy, but Boomers and Generation X seem to be losing (or not using), the empathic ability they once had, (studies by Sarah Konrath and her associates at the Institute for Social Research have documented the decline in empathy). The decline in our ability to build trusting, interpersonal relationships with clients, co-workers and suppliers is hurting corporate profitability and loyalty of both customers… and employees.

Example: Low customer service satisfaction rates = low customer loyalty = more upset customers = less engaged employees = less loyal employees = lower profits and higher cost to acquire new customers and new employees.

Solution: We need to learn (or relearn), how to express empathy and build trusting relationships in the context of our high-pressure, high-performing lives.

Learning How To Express Empathy And Work Ethics

My research and experience both tell me that the first step to encourage and teach empathy is to go back to basics and examine the relationship between empathy and ethics. And this of course has an impact on leadership style.

Personal ethics are a category of philosophy that guides what an individual believes and the way they behave when faced with choices; therefore, personal ethics and work ethics offers a foundation for self-reflection. Empathy, as I identified in an earlier post in this series is, “A person’s ability to be aware of and correctly imagine how another person is feeling.” Clearly, empathy and ethics share a symbiotic bond.Ying Yang

If a building has a foundation of concrete and steel, ethics has a foundation of: Morals, Principals, Guidelines and Values. Examples of personal ethics and work ethics are:

  • Commitment to excellence (Important work vs. Busy work) Habit 3/Stephen R. Covey
  • Honesty
  • Integrity
  • Respect (person, culture, environment)
  • To Communicate with intention

During an exploration of ethics an individual can recognize one of the best ways to be true to their ethical beliefs (for example ‘Respect’ or ‘To Communicate With Intention’), is by being aware of what they are feeling as well as what the people they are engaging with are feeling (empathy). Experiencing this symbiotic relationship between ethics and empathy then becomes the foundation for personal growth and the opportunity for an individual to reflect on their actions and be curious about the impact their actions have.

Be curious about me, my needs, the world, the community, new things. Wow!

Conclusion

Empathy is what humanizes an individual. Next time you are in a meeting or having a conversation with someone… listen. Don’t judge; don’t assume you know what they are saying or meaning. Reflect on what the others are feeling. It is this engagement of empathy that will enable you to take the next step into making an ethical decision because empathy allows you to consider the impact of your actions on a hundred different variables like an individual, a customer base and/or on the environment.

Every conversation has something to offer. How you will benefit depends on if you are listening.

By building an employee base that is connected to their empathy and ethics we are able to lay the foundation for the next level of organizational growth and profitability. Employees will be able to engage as teams and collaborate on projects that offer clients the best quality, the best service, the best prices while employee satisfaction and harmony skyrocket.

In our next post in this series we will discuss 3 steps practical steps to teach / learn empathy.

I’ll enjoy reading your comments on this post.

Click here to join our priority list of people who receive our latest Business Communication blog posts. If you enjoyed this post we think you’ll like:

Bruce Mayhew Consulting facilitates courses including Email Etiquette, Managing Difficult Conversations, Multigenerational Training, Time Management and Mindfulness.

Find answers to your Professional Development questions / needs at brucemayhewconsulting.com.

Give us a call at 416 617 0462. We’ll listen.

Bruce Mayhew on Canada AM

Click on the image to watch us on Canada AM.

I’d enjoy reading your comments on this post.

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