I attended a Generational Workshop led by Michele Norris at Navigen Leadership, and while I was listening to facts about the different generations, it occurred to me that the reason this is such a big deal is because it requires change, and sometimes people are really, really reluctant to accept and implement change.
As I think about generations throughout history, every generation brought something new into the workforce, and the landscape of our working world is constantly changing. We’ve moved from the Industrial Age to the Knowledge Age and we’ve changed the way we do a lot of things over the years, so why wouldn’t we change the way we do work? When I started my first job, we used carbon paper and had HUGE binders on our desks with information. I used a typewriter and was amazed by sending a fax. People smoked at their desks, in every public place, and there was no such thing as telecommuting. I love the changes we’ve made! We all love innovation, right? How many companies have values on their wall that say innovative culture?
Doesn’t innovation require some sort of change?
What really is the problem with millennials entering the workforce? Is it that they are good at technology? How many business owners want and need employees who are good with technology? Also, how many of us OLDER than millennials are also great at technology? I know I’m not a millennial (clearly from my example above), but I use technology every day and find that I can learn new software fairly easily. I also find that is an attractive quality in candidates I consider hiring for projects. So, is it that they want/need feedback? I’ve been training communication workshops for years and I know that a lot of communication breakdowns can be avoided by giving and receiving feedback?
I think it has more to do with requiring the management to change the way we manage. We can no longer say, “Your shift is from 7:30 – 4:00 and during that time, follow these procedures,” because the new generation says, “What if I can follow the procedures and do the work in 4 hours? Do I have to stay the entire 8?” Answering that question requires us to look at the work, how we manage the work, new ways to distribute the work and communication.
We might not need the same management structure. We might require more leaders and less managers and supervisors, which is an issue because good leaders are aren’t easy to find. We might have to rethink strategy and execution. We may have to include more voices in our process. I may be totally wrong, and if I am that is fine. It’s the great thing about opinions, they don’t always have to be right.
I do believe one way to know for sure is to have an inclusive process like using Appreciative Inquiry, and hear the voices within your organization, the voices that want to be part of your mission and help you succeed, the voices you’ve chosen to be the future of your organization, and the voices that will represent 50% of your workforce soon.