Leader driven Harmony #18: Gen-Ys need Special Handling when entering the Workforce – Part 2

by Mack McKinney on April 1, 2011

In the last post we talked about the special needs of new Gen Y workers.  Now we will look at how every new employee, Gen Y included, is judged in their new organization.  Then we will see what savvy teams are doing to help newly hired Gen Ys hit the ground running.

Upon arrival at a new job, every new employee is judged (I know, we shouldn’t “judge” people, but we do).  They will be scrutinized by established members of the organization in three areas:

  1. Why are they even here? They require salary and benefits.  What do they bring and contribute to the operation (education, technical skills, certifications, clients, special abilities)?
  2. Will we be able to rely upon them?  What kind of person they are (how is their head wired, what are their values, integrity, reliability)?
  3. Are they going to cause problems with our other people?  How good are their people-skills (how well will they work with others)?

Knowing that every organization’s current employees will be judging new people in at least those three areas, the organization should be proactive.  For each area where the new person will be judged the organization should bias the system in favor of success for them.  Give them the strongest possible start in each area. Let’s look at these one at a time:

The Gen Y’s work contribution

Find ways to put new hires to work, in their chosen field, the first week. But only do so with help from a mentor, just a few years senior if possible, who is already adapting nicely in the organization.  Before any formal training begins, have the mentor show the protégé the facilities, introduce peers, demonstrate his (the mentor’s) job, in short – launch the socialization process.  This mentor’s own, specific job in the organization is less important than having good people skills and good work ethics.  You are trying to set a good example.  And remember that new people view the organization in ways established employees no longer can.  So listen for suggestions from new hires, even fresh from school GenYs, as to how the organization can improve.  When a great idea emerges, adopt it and publicize it. (In fact, documenting and showing the disposition of EVERY suggestion in an organization is a wonderful way to demonstrate that every suggestion is important; also noting why it was implemented, deferred or rejected can be a great morale booster.)

The Person

Assume the new Gen Y is a reliable, reasonable person of integrity and reinforce that with organization-specific ethics training immediately.  Studies have shown that a person’s failure to perform can almost always be attributed to either poor training or poor motivation:  they either (1) don’t know exactly what is expected of them, so they don’t do it or (2) they know what is expected but are not sufficiently motivated to do it.  So tell them what you want in the initial in-briefings about ethics, integrity, reliability and honesty.  Then show them people in the organization living those values and being rewarded for them.  People usually rise to the benchmark their peers and bosses set for them.

You won’t know an employee’s deepest values until they are tested in some way but you can often shape a Gen Y’s still-impressionable sense of right and wrong.  You do this with a clear position written in simple English (not by lawyers) for every behavior the organization will (and won’t) tolerate.  These points can be part of an initial briefing or provided by a mentor or boss and they must be reinforced constantly by management.  Some examples could include:

  1. Expense accounts – don’t pad them. Keep thorough records and spend the organizations dollars as carefully as if it is your family’s money.
  2. Speak plainly – say what you mean and mean what you say. (* with one exception, discussed later).  Don’t use big puffy words, don’t “spin” your positions and don’t exaggerate.  Don’t understate things either. Be factual and be evidence-based.  Steer away from drama of all kinds here.
  3. You are unknown here.  From the very start, build a reputation as a hard worker who pitches in to contribute, without complaint, who speaks plainly and honestly, who shows up early and stays late.  Succeeding here can be thought of as a marathon with occasional sprints.  You must be able to do both.
  4. When you need help, ask for it.  We are a team here.

Well, you get the idea  . . . . This sharing of values and standards, repeated and demonstrated over time, is how individuals are brought into a team with shared goals, interdependencies and mutual rewards.

The organization and the new hire must agree to “meet halfway” in the process of individuals joining the team.  In our next post we will see what savvy companies are doing to help new Gen Ys improve the people skills they will need to succeed and we will look at the number one thing a newly hired Gen Y can focus on to quickly be accepted in a new job.

Copyright: Solid Thinking Corporation

Mack McKinneyMack McKinney is on a personal crusade to eliminate conflict and stress in our lives. Mack’s mantra is “People treat you like you TRAIN them to treat you!” His company Solid Thinking Corporation teaches creativity, concept development, relationship management and high-performance project leadership to major US corporations and the US government
Share

Related Articles

Previous post:

Next post: