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What's On Their Minds?

CloudsMy classes at Drake have a high percentage of students who have been in the workplace less than 10 years.  Last night, I asked them what survival skills they wished they possessed now and/or what they wished they had known how to do better when they started their careers.  Here is the list in no particular order:

  • Communication (creating and delivering)
  • Being approachable/Playing well with others/Diplomacy/Compromise
  • Better decision-making skills
  • Resourcefulness/creativity
  • Practicing tough love/accountability
  • Prioritizing/time management
  • Having better negotiation skills
  • Being more resilient and adaptable to change
  • Stress management
  • Staying abreast of technology
  • Effective delegation
  • Problem solving and contingency planning
  • Giving and receiving constructive criticism
  • Gaining respect/Perception management
  • Critical analysis and learning

We talk a lot about the Y Generation that's coming into the workplace.  For various reasons, HR professionals say they are challenging to work with.  But it sounds like they have some of the same things on their minds as professionals of other ages.  Instead of criticizing the newest members to the workforce, how can you help them succeed at some of their big concerns?

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Rosa Say | Managing with Aloha

Thank you for sharing this with us Timothy. The notion of “perception management” really jumps out at me, for Gens x and y do get labeled as the “me generations.” Their list for you well illustrates their increasing awareness that their visibility with others still counts for quite a bit.

You have also ended with a good coaching question for us, for our agreement with their concerns is not the point, it’s how we will work together. My own answer is in teaming for mutual benefit: We can “do with” and not “do for” and in the process learn much more from them too.

Timothy Johnson

The truly amazing thing for me, Rosa, was their reaction to the question. I don't think any one ever asked (or cared to know) what the answers were. The entire discussion centered around those very survival skills and what they needed to DO - they themselves, at any level of the organization - to pull them off. It was a pretty healthy discussion for all parties.

Rosa Say | Managing with Aloha

Wow, that is so encouraging Timothy! This is another illustration of how the generation now entering our workplaces is very misunderstood. They will do the work it takes, I think they just want to get to the heart of the matter quicker - the conventional expectations of "paying your dues" doesn't making sense unless those "dues" definitely count as REAL stepping stones in their progress - any notion of biding your time doesn't cut it for them, and frankly life is short; biding time shouldn't cut it for any of us.

Timothy Johnson

Completely agree Rosa. You look at how Gen Y, and to a lesser degree Gen X, was raised. Immediate gratification is instilled into the core values. These generations were raised on microwaves and the 30 minute sitcom. They don't know a world of walking across the room to change the channel. So why should the Boomers and WW2 generations expect them to act differently in the work place? For these two generations, and you hit the nail on the head, RELEVANCE is they key thing. Just as the older two generations are trying to figure out how to survive the new Gen Y crowd; it's obvious that they are trying to figure out a job market that is dominated by the other three generations. And I'm confident they will, if they can break the code of complex video games, what match is a bunch of corporate cubicle-dwellers?

Scot Herrick

Some of the bashing is caused by some of the Gen Y blogs being pretty confrontational with "other generations" as if they were superior. Something no one puts up with much, including if Baby Boomers were doing the 'superior' approach.

While there are differences, the Gen X and Y people that I manage are pretty straightforward in wanting to get things done, doing it well, and getting it done fast. Newer people to the workplace are a bit surprised at how much focus there is on the potential for outsourcing and layoffs and that should drive home the need for good career management.

It is much like everything else when there is shouting about generalities -- when you get to specifics, people are more like each other than different and you can work with them.

Timothy Johnson

I think every generation has a little self serving bias, wouldn't you agree? It's dealing with the values of the other generations that make it interesting. Check out Morris Massey's information on generational diversity... good stuff.

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