They don’t want to work for you, they want to work with you.
I was having lunch recently with a Helsinki business executive. Our conversation began with him asking how other companies deal with employee motivation and engagement. Our chat drifted to understanding difficult employees and the amount of energy and time this activity consumes. He shared how his company was being particularly influenced by a group with ways of thinking and behaving he found unconventional.
“In the last ten tears, I’m noticing how a very different mindset is challenging my managers and me.”
I asked him about the age group he was referring to and he identified the 20 to mid/late 30’s group. Probing a little deeper asking him about the general demographic trends of his company.
“It’s a bit of everything I guess, all ages.” “But it’s the younger ones I find most challenging.” “It used to be people were happy to have a job, worked hard, didn’t complain much and were happy to work overtime when it was needed or asked of them.”
“I think I need your help… Now it’s frankly a mess! It’s like looking at paint splatters on a wall,” “Everyone want’s something different… especially the young ones.”
Countries, religion, business, ethnic races, governments, and even generations have personalities just like people. Integral and Spiral Dynamics terms frequently reference demographics highlighting their consciousness level colour and ’SG’ (specific gravity). We know people think differently because of their culture and backgrounds, beliefs and values. Anyone traveling extensively or has lived in an apartment building can affirm we seldom know our neighbours, much less belong to the same psychological community. Cultures are often grounded in ‘idealism’ helping explain the how and why of groups? Cultures provide insight as to how we need to cooperate, collaborate and can become conflicted over differences in values and the deeper strata of systems that form them.
Millennials grew up in an electronics-filled world thriving on being ‘plugged in’ and belonging to ‘their’ social network. This generation is targeted by advertisers and is receiving the glut of the marketing focus. The most ethnically varied, they are blossom on being accepting and highly adaptable to people’s differences. Raised with a mantra of “live your dreams,” they were raised as to feel ‘special’ with to their confidence meter well off to the liberal left. These positive traits one might argue, tend towards an ‘entitlement,’ paint splattering the corporate office walls with the red and amber of entitlement. This meme holds an optimistic viewpoint about the future.
If you have them in your workplace – be curious, engage them and meet them where they are. The potentiality and genius millennials carry in mind is inspiring. I heard one young millennial recently declare after being told off by a boss publicly. As she was text-tapping away carrying on two simultaneous conversations, “I’ve forgotten more already in my twenty-four years than he would like to know…” Now poke your nose into the future a moment and see if you can bring into focus what the kids of today will be like as adults. Children in carriages are already playing with technology. What’s even more amazing is whatever quantum homonym you use to describe their affinity for technology, they solve complex problems that leave adults scratching their heads.
Jim Grant is a Leadership and Executive Coach living in Helsinki, Finland. Are you looking for someone to help pick some new colours for your company? Give him a call at +358 40 178 1030 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org