AT THE CROSSROADS: LESSONS FROM MILLENNIALS - Part I

BE LIKE A CAT!


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There is so much going on out there and being surrounded by Millennials brings several essays on the subject, as well as put things in a different perspective. Why not taking some lessons from them? Hear this: "Be like a Cat!" I frowned. I am not very fond of cats. I love dogs: they are straightforward and  they are
loyal. But this Millennial's view of a cat is quite different from mine! Hear this exchange about organizations:
TJ: - Be lithe!
Me: - Lithe?
TJ: - Yes, cats are lithe! Organizations need to be flexible.

Well,... why not listen to the suggestions? We are after all at the crossroads and do not always know what is the best route to take. And, once upon a time I was that young "miss" in her early twenties who had a team of mid-aged men and one close to retirement as direct reports. We were all "Millennials" in our own times and we all learnt, one way or another that, yes, partnership is crucial. It does require flexibility. Yesterday, while I was in the middle of a training session, one colleague jokingly asked me: "So, how does it feel to be around teenagers?", and to which, one swiftly objected: " I am NOT a teenager! I am twenty five." Flexibility also implies "diplomacy". Watch what you are doing and saying. Be "politically" correct in  today's intricate business world. In any event, you do not want to be a liability.

A major thing that I learnt through experience is that many organizations do not like you to be flexible in HR. They mostly want liability avoidance, therefore compliance is the master word. The rest, you might just want to forget about it if you are part of those organizations. There is no room for adaptability and flexibility, let alone creativity. Granted that adherence to Federal and State laws and regulations is a must, there should be some wiggle room for flexibility in decision and policy making in certain areas, without jeopardizing work process or the organization. Unfortunately, there is no room for creativity in HR matters ( and again, I am talking about some organizations. Please, no generalization although HR is often known as "evil" ), whereas and ironically there is ample room for "adjustment" to "business needs". In other words, HR is the "inflexible ruler", operational managers are the "practical" performers, and employees - often times Millennials these days - are the "free agents". Shouldn't we meet somewhere at the crossroads?

MEET AT THE CROSSROADS: MAKE YOUR CONNECTION

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I am aware that I am walking on a tight rope here: of course, I want to avoid any litigation, any unnecessary liability, but I want to look at things with an open mind for all stakeholders' sake. According to a survey by Lee Hecht Harrison " 70% of older employees are dismissive of younger workers' abilities. And nearly half of employers say that younger employees are dismissive of the abilities of their older co-workers".
And how about customers? They often range from seven to 77 years-old! The same attitude is observed through any type of customers, in any line of business. I find some stories written by Millennials so compelling (believe me or not I came across this through an HR professional's blog!) and relevant!
How do you handle business and employees' concerns? I have witnessed more than one voluntary exits of good employees because they were convinced that it was in their best interest. It often saddened me because there would have been room for conciliating their legitimate needs with business needs. Do you get a candid feedback on exit interviews? Fear is a driving force, in all senses of the term of "driving", away or forward. Fear kills commitment and is a roadblock to engagement.  By no means, don't let your employees think that you are going to fire them because of perceptions. So, what is the key? Personal touch! Make your connection if you want things to happen.

COMMUNICATE THE RIGHT DECISION


And here is a very recent example of a lesson from a Millenial. Jimmy (fictional name, real case) had been displaying a drastic change of attitude lately. He is usually a pretty good employee and performer but apparently family issues have been overwhelming to him these days.  In his small contributions he is important to the organization. Two other employers fill the same function but they are not nearly as good as Jimmy. This is a small, new business, still in growth stage, run by two Millenials. Was Jimmy  regularly been given proper quick feedback on his attitude? Yes.

Lately, Jimmy  made a point of being very uncooperative with his co-workers. He lashed out at them in public, used profanity. It did slow business down throughout the whole chain. Patrons and employees alike were more than bothered by the incident and attitude. Tolerable? As HR what would have been your recommendations?

I was impressed by the way this case has been handled by this Millenial: Jimmy is now suspended indefinitely. In fact, he is "granted time off" until he gets things sorted out on a personal level, and ready for a change of attitude. One could argue (employees) that it is the equivalent of being fired. In any event, Jimmy needed to be away because of his behavior, and told so. Suzanne Lucas, in her article "Why I don't fire the Jerks" is so relevant. In this case, it was said and done in a very subtle fashion. This is such a win-win situation: nobody is fired (for now), the word "suspension" has not even be said (no step x of x), and everybody is happy within Federal and State rule "compliance". You could even discern some EAP handling, and progressive discipline transpires clearly in the whole process. Not in so many words... Granted this is a small business and large corporations have to be more formal,  the key here is that an appropriate measure was taken, all things considered. There are reasons to believe that a HR pro would have handled it otherwise. There is also some work to be done in terms of hiring and staffing strategy, but our focus in this case is communication. The message is clear to all stakeholders, and what needed to be done (at the present time) is achieved.  Know how to handle the situation without causing a series of backfiring. Be lithe?

The key points of the lessons from Millennials will be following, but I am curious to hear from you!

En Synthèse ...


En Synthèse ...



SOYEZ SOUPLE COMME UN CHAT!


Je n'en croyais pas mes oreilles! Moi, je n'aime pas les chats; en fait je n'aime pas les félins, parce que ce sont des félins avec tout ce que cela implique. Je préfère les chiens, non parce qu'ils peuvent être dociles mais parce que je les trouve affectueux et loyaux, et directs. Nous avons toujours eu des chiens, alors j'aime les chiens. Plus facile d'aimer ce que l'on connaît, hein?

Mais ce jeune, ce Millennial, qui est allergique aux chats de me dire en parlant d'organisations que nous devrions apprendre à être flexibles comme les chats, prête à réflexion. Les organisations sont trop rigides, me dit-il. Bon, alors, j’écoute...Et ma foi, il y a des leçons à tirer de la conversation. 

Une chose est sure: nous sommes tellement embourbés dans nos procedures, structures, habitudes, que nous oublions d’être humains parfois. Nous oublions d’établir un vrai contact. Nous pensons que nous devons défendre notre intégrité. Intégrité vis-à-vis de l'entreprise que nous sommes sensés représenter. Cela frise le narcissisme...  

Alors, plusieurs choses passent sous notre nez pour ainsi dire. Ou bien les laissons-nous passer pour une situation de facilité? Pour certains, il est tellement plus facile de juste appliquer la loi ou les règles, pour ainsi dire à yeux fermés, sans se soucier de possibles interprétations qui pourraient donner un meilleur résultat, en termes de solutions. Ou encore, l'on écoute le manager - ma foi, l'on est ici pour écouter les cadres! - sans se soucier des impartialités possibles. Tenez vous bien: les employés n'ont pas de paperasses pour supporter ce qui se passe. Oh! Bien sûr, il y a des syndicats dans certaines organisations, et là, ma foi, je m'abstiens de commentaires. Mais en général, les supérieurs rapportent et ont souvent le dessus, et pour cause! Ok, juste vous direz. Mais aussi, est-il possible que vous soyez aveugle et sourd aux possibilités et risques d'abus de pouvoir, bizutage, mobbing etc...? Et tant que RH êtes-vous conscient que vous pouvez être ou avoir été - consciemment ou inconsciemment - un partenaire de placardisation ou de détournement de règles disciplinaires? Ah!! Pensez-y un peu!

Et voilà la raison du bien-fondé de cette suggestion: apprenez de la flexibilité du chat! Surtout de nos jours, il y a plus et plus de jeunes, des Millenials, au travail. Il y a un conflit de génération: les perceptions et attitudes sont différentes. Mais de nouveau, ayez une petite rétrospective. Il y a des années de cela, j’étais moi-même cette "mademoiselle" à qui devaient rapporter des hommes d’âge mur dont un chef de projet près de l'âge de la retraite. Non, ce n’était pas toujours facile. L'on a tendance à penser que vous êtes jeune et donc - et à juste titre - sans grande expérience, prouvé dans 70% des cas, selon cette étude de Lee Hecht Harrison . Mais cela n'implique pas nécessairement que vous êtes incapable de grands accomplissements! J'ai apporté des changements positifs là ou j’étais.  Ces jeunes de nos jours sont aussi capables, à leurs façons, même si parfois -ou souvent- ils nous effraient dans leurs attitudes... Même si nous n'aimons ni les leggings et cheveux à plusieurs tons des jeune femmes, ni les boucles d'oreilles des jeunes hommes...Et vice-versa, pratiquement 50% des employeurs trouvent que les jeunes sont trop imbibés de leurs personnalité et  ignorent les capacités de leurs "partenaires" de travail. Et voilà le mot!

Nous sommes des PARTENAIRES de travail, cela doit tout résumer.

A LA CROISÉE DES CHEMINS, SACHEZ COMMUNIQUER


Et avez-vous noté que grand nombre de jeunes sont des CEO et des VIP? Un grand nombre de global leaders sont plutôt qualifiés d’être jeunes.  La nouvelle génération a une différente approche. Mais différent ne doit pas être synonyme de négatif. A la croisée des chemins, nous pouvons tirer des leçons des deux parties.

A mon avis, les jeunes leaders peuvent nous donner des leçons de communication. Ils ont une autre façon de gérer les businesses. Je suis impressionnée par celui-ci qui, au lieu de lancer un parfaitement justifiable "à la porte, maintenant!" a tourné cela (au lendemain de l'incident) à un "allez, prenez autant de temps off jusqu'à ce que vous soyez prêt à retourner avec une meilleure disposition au travail," à la satisfaction de tout le monde! Ne restons pas perdus dans la rigidité de nos procédures et règles de travail. Sûrement, les RH peuvent tirer des leçons de flexibilité et d’humanisme tout en respectant les lois. Plusieurs points à réviser que nous verrons plus tard.

Mais déjà, je suis curieuse d’écouter ce que vous pensez. A la prochaine!
 








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