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    Wednesday
    Oct232013

    The Top 6 Things Young Employees Want You to Know Now

     

    We all know corporate executives today are faced with more uncertainty than ever before. Daily they battle the difficult, ever-changing challenges, both internally and externally, that could result in the life or death of any organization in our lightening fast economy.

    "...corporate executives today are faced with more uncertainty than ever before."

    The following list was the basis for a speaking engagement I had with another good friend and executive leadership trainer last spring, in which he played devil's advocate to my points. The points he made were excellent, but I'd like to save those rebuttals for a future guest post. This also gives me a chance to hear from any readers who would like to weigh in. At this point, suffice it to say that we weren't arguing so much as we were both advocating for excellence in communication throughout the employer/employee relationship.

    Without further ado, I give you "The Top 6 Things Young Employees Want You to Know Now":

    "I know everything is changing. Do you?"

    • I know everything is changing. Do you?
      • This ain’t your father’s world…or mine, for that matter. Have you accepted that every facet of your business will eventually be disrupted by better practices and new service industries, and sooner rather than later?
      • I’m used to constant contact/change/etc. I live and breathe it as naturally as you took to TV and radio. “Always ON” isn’t a burden to me, it’s expected.
      • The days of me “not seeing the big picture” are gone. I am information. Get over it.
      • Your business will only progress as fast as you can keep ahead of the commoditization of your services. How will you differentiate in the new normal of globalization and shorter and shorter innovation cycles and talent deficits?
      • The days of me not knowing my worth are gone.
      • Expect me to jump ship. You can see by my resume, that this is not uncommon.
      • You are here to serve me in my professional chase, be grateful.
      • Big bets on young talent are worth it to keep up. Hopefully, someone capable is keeping track.

    "You should trust me."

    • You should trust me.
      • Typical American workplace psychology is poisoned. Do us all a favor and trust me. You’ll find out soon enough who has what it takes, and who doesn’t.
      • You probably do trust me on paper if I’ve lived up to your recruiting standards, but what about in the day to day operations of the business? Challenge my ass. Push the learning curve. Take a calculated risk. If you are in middle management and can’t, then ask for more flexibility in punching the tickets of the deserved from your superiors. I’m counting on you for that – and not just at annual review time.
      • Outside of industry regs, wouldn’t you suppose that I have something interesting to say about your internal best practices? What about client expectations? What would happen if you involved me in the full stack of project negotiation through delivery? I’m not going to make us look bad if you let me hang around during client sessions. Sure, you might take a UT hit, but what is the ROI for that time at depth? Negligible if you look at my lifetime value as an employee.
      • What if I’m a non-traditional grad/intern/what-have-you that doesn’t fit the typical employee mold? Do you have the objectivity to recognize talent when it’s on your doorstep, or already within your ranks, and act appropriately? This type of worker case will become more and more common in the wake of The Great Recession and continued industrial disruption. Get used to it, and have a plan.

    "Show me the metrics."

    • Show me the metrics.
      • Transparency builds trust. It’s as simple as that. If you involve me from the outset in the necessary performance metrics that truly allow people to impact the bottom line, climb the ranks, and respect them, I will follow you to the gates of Hell.
      • If you tell me “that information is available to people who want it”, but don’t make it readily so and commonplace, then I don’t believe you. I will believe it’s a conspiracy and make fun of you during happy hours.
      • If you adhere to the above and I can’t cut it among my peers, then it will be entirely clear why. There will be no lingering doubts about whether so-and-so was close with Manager X, or that promotion was only based on their lucky involvement in Project X when it comes to reviews.
      • Make it absolutely clear how to get from here to there.

    "Intrinsic rewards could mean as much, or more than typical extrinsic motivation."

    • Intrinsic rewards could mean as much, or more than typical extrinsic motivation.
      • Know your team. The days of bigger carrots and stay in your box are over. Sure, there will always be a number of us who are influenced by the payday, but more often, we are finding that the “why” behind the “what” or “who” matters more than all of the above.  
      • Younger workers could be motivated as much by the social gratification of what they do for a living, as by the paycheck they collect every couple weeks…you should know what matters to me.

    "Management isn’t for the weak."

    • Management isn’t for the weak.
      • Don’t put half-ass managers in charge of me. 
      • It doesn’t take years in any industry to recognize ineffective people, so don’t bullshit me. 
      • If this person is responsible for me and my career trajectory, then their position shouldn’t be a place where lifers go to die. 
      • Managing people is one of the hardest tasks to conduct effectively in any company, and definitely shouldn’t be relegated to the domain of unremarkable, long term employees that you can’t figure out what to do with. If you think I’m too green to realize my manager’s capacity in this respect, then I might redirect you to the “trust” directive above. 
      • Managing is a skill where, in my case, I might use the infamous line about “…I’m not sure what it looks like, but I’ll know it when I see it,” works just fine. 
      • This might be the single biggest strategic decision in helping you develop, influence, mentor, and hopefully keep me.

    "Failure should be acceptable as long as it’s not catastrophic and you learned actionable information from it."

    • Failure should be acceptable as long as it’s not catastrophic and you learned actionable information from it.
      • This really speaks to the innovation zeitgeist and what it really takes to build a culture around it. Not that your experts aren’t completely capable of attempting innovation on their own, but I think we would be better served if you teamed me (interested young person) with one of our technical leads with implicit teaching directives. Mentorship doesn’t have to be bureaucratized, but it does have to be acted upon.
      • Experimentation in all facets of our business is the only way we are going to stay relevant as the innovation cycles shorten across the board. NEWS FLASH - I'm good at that.
      • Fast and cheap – let’s learn as much as we can…and GROW that instinct in our incoming staff.

    Hopefully that provided more introspection than feathers ruffled, but you can probably tell I hope for both in equal measure.

    The future belongs to you.