One of our readers was kind enough to send the following article, an original piece for managers in large and small business by Cam Marston, author of Motivating the “What’s in it For Me?” Workforce.
You’ve hired them. Now how can you keep them around?
By Cam Marston
Things aren’t always what they seem. If I could give you one bit of advice on dealing with the latest generation of employees to come under your management, it would be to remember those words…things aren’t always what they seem.
If you are like most business leaders, you’ve no doubt noticed a trend in the way employees behave in recent years. Most likely you consider it a negative trend – too much entitlement, not enough loyalty, no work ethic, only interested in themselves, and on and on. But I challenge you to consider that perhaps these are not negative trends, just different ones. Things aren’t always what they seem.
To better understand who your employees are and what drives them to succeed, perhaps it’s easiest to understand who they are not. You. That’s right. They may even be your offspring but in the workplace they bear little resemblance to the “you” of yesteryear. Gen Xers (born 1965-1979) and Millenials (born after 1980) are operating in this world with a completely different perspective. Their definitions of loyalty, time and success are often quite different from yours. Rest assured they do recognize all of these concepts and value them in very important ways. The key to your organization’s future success is understanding how the Millenials view the world and using that knowledge to motivate them in a way that works. Here’s a hint: meet them where they are and they will achieve your underlying goals; try to force them to fit your definitions and they will run for the door every time.
So let’s take a look at some of the pervasive myths about our youngest generation in the workforce and discuss why these changes are happening and how you can tailor your workplace to meet the needs of you, your employees and the company.
Myth: Younger generations have no work ethic.
Reality: Younger generations have a self-centered work ethic. This is not necessarily the negative that it may seem at first. Millenials are dedicated to completing their task well. They have not been raised in a way that demands them to look around and see what should be done next. Instead they ask “what is my job” and go about figuring the best, fastest way to complete that task. Then they consider themselves done. This is a key differentiator between your employees and yourself.
The younger they are, the more your employees view their jobs as “something to do between the weekends.” For most, early employment has nothing to do with a career path; it is a way to earn money to have fun in their free time. And that is okay. When you understand what motivates your employees you are better able to set mutual expectations for success. Instead of being frustrated that your youngest employees are not interested in climbing your corporate ladder, embrace their true motivation – reliable spending money – and use it to your advantage. When you tell an employee, “I understand this is not your lifelong career, but to earn the paycheck every week, here is what I expect …” they are much more likely to respond than if you try to motivate with promises of promotions and titles down the road.