Posts Tagged ‘managing gen y’
I recently had an amazing experience: The Government of Brunei Darussalam hosted a Leadership Conference for Millennials (aka: Gen Y), attended by employees from both private and public sector organizations. And they hired me to be a featured speaker at the event, so I flew to their capital, Bandar Seri Begawan, and it was awesome!
While there, I conducted my Personal Branding Workshop for them. But what was very interesting is that when I asked how many of them had ever heard the term Personal Branding, only 2-3 attendees out of 300+ raised their hand. However they rapidly embraced the concept, and took the training very seriously.
Brunei is a small country that shares a border with Indonesia. And, even with a population of only 440,000, organizations there are running into the same challenges we have here in the U.S.; they are having to move younger employees into leadership roles sooner and that is creating new challenges for the Millennials AND their employers.
Just like Millennials here, they need training on leadership and management. And employers are interested in knowing more about managing, recruiting and retaining Gen Y.
Yes, people, the “Millennial” phenomenon is a GLOBAL workforce issue. If it weren’t, I wouldn’t have been hired to fly across the globe. Right?
While there, I experienced a bit of celebrity, which was fun! They had ordered 300 copies of my third book, “Millennials into Leadership”, and most all of the attendees wanted me to sign their copies, plus they all wanted to take pics with me.
Then, the day after I spoke, I opened their main daily newspaper, and there I was featured in a big article. I’m moving there. LOL
I also spent some time sightseeing. One main highlight that day was the private boat tour I took. We went into the jungle where I saw crocodiles and monkeys!
Anyway, the whole things was a unique experience that I wanted to share. The people of Brunei were extremely gracious and hospitable. I’m hoping to work with them again in 2015!
In all the seminars and workshops training I conduct for Managers and Leadership Teams, I find that a majority of them struggle with managing difficult employees. And, regardless of their experience level, or age (Boomers, Gen X or Gen Y), I see two common ways many of them handle challenging employees: poorly or not at all…neither of which are effective!
But in a leadership role where you’re responsible for managing others, how you manage a difficult employee is critical. Why? Because undoubtedly you are forced to spend a disproportionate amount of resources, time, and energy on them, and this can cause frustrations and tempers to arise, productivity to decrease, morale to go down, retention of good talent to plummet, and your other team members (and possibly, customers) to become disgruntled.
What Can You Do? A Simple 5-Step Process:
1. Do Not Ignore the Problem
A small problem has the potential to turn big, so pay attention to red flags when you first see them. If you notice that an employee is exhibiting bad behavior, it’s time to take immediate action. The longer you wait, the worse it will get! Sticking your head in the sand will normally not make the issue magically disappear…and you’ll be faced with employees, and possibly your boss, wondering why you’re not taking charge of the situation.
2. Identify the Cause
Understanding the real motivation for their behavior unlocks your power to take the right steps to address the underlying cause. You have to find out WHY they are being difficult. Do they dislike their job? Are they having personal problems outside of work? Are they having issues with a co-worker you may not be aware of, such as a bully who is making them miserable? You cannot begin to determine solutions and a course of action if you don’t know “why” their poor behavior is occurring.
3. Provide a Comfortable Environment
Talk to your employee in a comfortable, non-threatening, environment that can enable them to disclose the reason for their behavior. Don’t forget to tell them that you’re there to help them, make their work life better, and help them be successful. Remember, your main goal behind this process is to uncover valuable information, so your communication should not be confrontational. Prepare your feedback ahead of time, ask questions, let the conversation flow, stay engaged, and listen closely. And once you’ve gathered the insights from your employee, you can then begin to determine a plan to resolve the issue(s).
4. Develop a Solution
When handling difficult employees, it is important for Managers to identify the problem and suggest a solution; not demonize them. Your goal should be to develop a plan which not only reflects your agenda, but also incorporates their perspective. If you need time to come up with a plan after you have your “fact gathering session” with them, take it. However, if you feel comfortable and prepared to discuss solutions right away, do so. Either way, make their input part of the plan to work together so that you get their (enthusiastic) buy-in. Just because you think your plan of action for them is great, doesn’t mean it can actually work. The objectives and goals that you establish have to be ones they can accomplish, and ones that they are very clear on.
5. Monitor and Provide On-going Effective Feedback
Once your plan has been mutually agreed upon, actively monitor their progress and provide them with regular, specific, effective feedback. Many Managers express their grievances and expect the employee to drastically change their behavior without any on-going guidance. That type of management style FAILS most of the time. Just like dieting, people tend to be way more successful when they have on-going guidance, feedback, encouragement, and support.
As a Manager, if you do not take the appropriate steps to handling difficult employees, you are doing a huge disservice to yourself, your career, your company, as well as to your other employees who are working hard towards the success of the department and organization. You need to improve the retention of your top employees; not frustrate them to the point of leaving.
Can all difficult employees be “turned around”? Of course not! But by helping them determine why they are having issues at work can also help you both determine if this job, or company, simply isn’t the right fit for them. If that IS the case, typically there’s nothing you can do to shift their behavior. They need to move on to a job where they’ll be happier…and that’s a win/win outcome for both of you!
One of the main points I heavily emphasize in my Personal Branding workshops for employees and Managers, regardless of what generation they’re from or level they’re at in their career, is this: It isn’t possible to become a great leader without being an effective communicator. In fact, effective communication is a key component of success in the professional world, whether it is at the organizational, intra-group, inter-group, or interpersonal level.
And when I say “leader”, I’m referring to ANY level you’re at or role you’re in now. Millennials (aka: Gen Y), Gen X, and Boomers need to be in a “leadership mindset” at work and conduct themselves accordingly!
The best quality of an effective leader is the strategic way they communicate with other employees, translating key business goals into terms that help the latter identify ‘what’s in it for me, thus motivating them to align their actions toward the success of their organization. It’s part of a leader’s job responsibility to communicate effectively what the employees want and need to know.
Effective communication also includes a greater sense of contextual and situational awareness…which many people aren’t good at, and is why I believe companies need to provide more training on communication! That said, let’s look at some tips…
Communication Secrets of Effective Leaders
Great communicators believe in two-way communication. They understand that simply broadcasting their message won’t have the same effect as engaging in a meaningful conversation. They are good listeners while being astute in observations, possessing the ability to adapt their responses to the environment and situation without missing a beat.
Effective communicators are adept at transferring ideas and spreading their vision. Their words inspire action and align expectations, focusing more on contributing than receiving. This may seem counter-intuitive, but it pays off in the longer run. In fact, a leader that focuses more on leave-behind than the take-aways is more likely to learn deeper than they ever would by concentrating only on their agenda.
One of the best qualities of an effective leader is that they communicate with clarity, focusing on being simple and concise. Who would appreciate or understand your point of view if you remain complicated and confusing? After all, who has time to spare for trying to understand your complex language? Great leaders understand the value of clarity and brevity and know how to hit the point and cut to the chase. In order to be an effective leader, it is crucial to learn the importance of weeding out the superfluous in order to make yourself heard.
Focus on Inter-Personal Relationships
Great leaders reject the classic business theory that suggests them to stay at an arm’s length. They have a firm belief that only those prefer to stay away from others who want to remain in the dark. No great leader wishes to receive highly sanitized versions of the reality. They believe in developing meaningful relationships with employees in order to know what’s actually on their minds. A deeper understanding of each other is necessary for organizational success, and a good leader understands this well. Don’t let your ego be the roadblock to your relationship with other employees in the organization. Be candid and empathetic toward others to turn doubt into trust and earn greater respect.
Preparedness and Contingency Planning
The best leaders are always prepared for any kind of situation. They have a contingency plan in mind for any message that seems to evoke anger or criticism. In order to be a successful leader, it is important to learn how to justify your message with reason, business logic, and knowledge in order to make a lasting impact on the listeners. Remember, communication isn’t about you, your beliefs, your opinions, or your circumstances. In fact, it’s more about understanding others concerns, and fulfilling their needs. This will help you show your empathetic side and add value to their world.
In closing, DON”T be the type of leader that you wouldn’t want to work for. And you can prevent that by working on HOW you communicate with people, both verbally and visually!
I, along with other experts, have written a lot about Millennials (aka: Gen Y) “as employees” to help employers better understand what makes this unique generation tick. And for any of you that are interested in info along those lines, you can get detailed tips on how to recruit, manage, motivate and retain Millennial employees in my first book, Millennials Incorporated, on Amazon.
But the focus of this post is to shed some light on who Millennials are “as consumers”. Did you know that by 2017 the Millennial Generation will have more spending power than any other generation? So if you own a company with products or services that appeal to Millennials, or if you’re responsible for the marketing, branding and sales efforts at your company, keep reading.
There’s a great White Paper that was created by BazaarVoice, a leading network that connects brands and retailers to the authentic voices of people where they shop. It’s loaded with terrific data you need to be aware of and answers questions such as:
1. How do Millennials “buy”?
2. How and where do they like to get their info when researching a product or service to purchase?
3. How different are they as consumers from Boomers?
4. How do they like to engage with brands?
5. What appeals to them as consumers…and what turns them off?
If you’re interested in knowing the answers to these questions, along with many other important insights, I strongly recommend downloading their free White Paper, “Talking to Strangers: Millennials Trust People over Brands”.
There are a variety of reasons I chose this topic to write about today, but one recent conversation with a good friend was the thing that got me motivated to actually do it.
She was telling me how she and her 23-year old Millennial (aka: Gen Y) son, who recently graduated from college, went mattress shopping for his new apartment. During their outing together, she was chatting up a storm with everyone; the salespeople, other customers, etc.
After a while, her son finally said, “Mom, what is it with your generation? You guys talk to everyone, all the time!”
He then continued to say that he wasn’t comfortable doing that and that most people he knew, in his generation, felt the same way. However, during their 3-hour mattress-shopping afternoon together, she told me that he hardly ever stopped texting back and forth with his friends. So, “communication” isn’t the issue; “how” they are comfortable doing it is.
Anyway, after his comment, at the very next store she made an effort to hardly say a word and decided to let him handle the interaction with the 40-something sales associate. It only took about 4 minutes for her son to ask her to talk to the salesperson because he didn’t want to anymore. Rather, he was more comfortable watching his Baby Boomer mom do all the talking.
I’ve seen this “not talking much” dynamic occur in many of the workshops I conduct for Millennial employees in corporations. That is also one reason I dedicate a chapter to “communicating like a leader” in my popular book for Millennial employees, “Millennials into Leadership”. My Millennial audiences are always totally engaged, but just aren’t comfortable making comments or asking questions, even when I ask them to. However, they come up to me one-on-one afterwards, or send me emails afterwards, with questions or comments. THAT is totally different from when I conduct workshops or seminars with “older” generations in the audience (i.e. Gen X and Boomers). I typically have to monitor how much time they take up talking!
Plus, I get tons of Millennials at my leadership training workshops that openly admit they just aren’t comfortable speaking with strangers, or even work colleagues, face-to-face. AND, I hear this complaint from many of their Managers. They get very frustrated with the fact their Millennial employees don’t participate much in meetings. However, they find it odd that those same Millennials are totally okay telling them about what they did over the weekend, in lengthy detail, EVERY Monday morning.
And I have to explain that most Millennials like, and need, close ties to their bosses, and sharing their personal life is one way they try to build that “bond”. Unfortunately, that’s something that most supervisors in the workforce, 35+ years old, find very irritating.
Hence just ONE of the reasons the multi-generational workforce challenges continue…and that’s what keeps getting me booked for speaking engagements at well-known companies across the country!
The bottom line to all of this is: Most Millennials grew-up communicating electronically with their peers and that is their comfort zone. However, as I explain to them, they need to work on getting out of that online comfort zone and work at being more comfortable with in-person social settings. It is critical to their career success and relationship building professionally.
My advice to all you Millennials is to take it slow and “practice”. Go to professional networking events, at work and outside of work, or if you’re job searching, and force yourself to meet as many people as you can each time. Trust me! It gets much easier the more you do it!
Also, to get you started, follow these great tips for networking successfully at events offered by David Spinks, who wrote this article for BrazenCareerist.com, an info-packed blog site for young professionals, entitled, “13 Tips for Your First Networking Event”.
Now get out there, turn off your mobile devices, and build some new relationships by communicating the old fashioned way…in-person! Your “career” will thank you!
Bye for now,