The Proper Care and Feeding of Employee X … I mean Y and Z.

Forbes Infographic

Those are some stats but.. what does it mean?

At first glance the thing that I pick up on is that close to half the work force will be filled by the people in this generation.

I think we will need to consider some things outside the normal conversation as factors.

  • This generation grew up with reality tv as part of their lives
  • Social considerations like “say anything to anyone is the new normal”
  • Emotional intelligence and progressive thinking with relation to immediate feedback from human to human or human to machine relationships should be considered.
  • Supply and demand will dramatically shift the way companies operate internally.

These factors should be considered in addition to others as we participate in the changing workforce.  The fact is that the GenXr’s are such a thin layer of workforce (http://www.catalyst.org/knowledge/generations-workplace-united-states-canada) that there will be a great drop off once the baby boomers leave and the bulk of the workforce will be weighted to Y and Millennial.  For the Generation X workers that will flip their “normal” upside down.  It makes sense that industry is looking to figure out how to deal with the Y and Mils but it also makes sense to take into consideration the push and pull on the X’ generation.   Why? because these guys still may have 20 plus years in the workforce.  The other thing is that Generation X traits have characteristics and traits that represent stability and a memory of parents and grandparents that lived through histories more recent and difficult times (X traits).

I remember people that were part of the holocaust don’t click here if you can’t take it –>(horrific) and the great depression Migrant Mother 1930.  I heard their first hand stories.  When I tell my oldest son who is part of the millennial generation, he looks at me in a way that tells of confusion and disconnection.   The closest he has to seeing and experiencing these kinds of events is 9-11.   If  you think that my perspective may be a little harsh,  I will concede that it may be and further that I may be discounting some other events like the Gulf war and the long Iraq and Afgan conflicts.   Although, that being said I have been working with the military for many years and the media surrounding war seems a lot different from it did 20-30 years ago.

My generation saw change that was unending, dramatic, compelling and extreme.  We saw the Berlin wall come down and we saw genocide in many countries, we witnessed the worst of racism and the beautiful hearts and minds of those that fight it.  There are so many things that the Gen X’rs have seen and dealt with through the past 30-40 years that it is mind-boggling.  It seemed as if this generation had the greatest accounting for firsts.  First this or that.  I know that well before there were gen X’rs there were many firsts and many milestones but it seems as if the Boomers plowed the field and framed out the roadway and their parents (Tom Brokaw’s Greatest Generation or GI Generation) felt the great pains of a torn and weighted nation.  The burdens of our parents were always hanging in the background.  There was an echo of all these voices that were full of pain and sorrow that held a constant undertone in our lives.  There was greatness that rose up through the noise and the sorrow.  It was inspirational.   It was also the beginnings of a world that would be sheltered for some and further creating fear.  Generation X saw the birth of the data explosion and they were the generation that had to not only absorb the wave but learn how to ride it.   So this generation has been run through sociological and human condition changes that test and try an individuals mentality.

GenYandM

How did we respond?

We are more flexible and we are more open but we still harbor the pains of deep seeded confusion about who we are.

  • Our children were more sheltered and out of touch with the world.
  • Our children stay home and don’t wander the streets until the street lights come on.
  • Our children don’t get kicked out to play all day (for the most part).
  • Our children have a global view and are “worldly”
  • Our children are sophisticated in electronic communication.
  • Our children have no patience and demand immediate feedback.

I can go on all day with this list.  From the perspective of a business what will this mean?

As fast as things are changing now, things will move faster.  Further, explicit information and data is king and the primary means of communication.  More specifically, we will be moving further and further away from human to human interaction in person because it is simply not needed.

Maybe in the FUTURE we will hear sayings like “I wish I could content tag all my words” or “context is like my personal theme song”

We are starting to sift big data and watch trends and we are missing the spaces between the words.  If you look at music on a page and read it, will it give you the FEELING that makes you love the song?  We are starting to break the rules of effective communication and companies like Yahoo, Google, Apple, Microsoft, Best Buy are already responding by limiting the flexibility and telework that these employees are already DEMANDING.   Companies will have to either force culture change on this younger generation or this younger generation WILL change the way business operates.

Put that in your database and sift it.. are you getting it? 

In the meantime, Gen X’rs will be riding, surviving, flexing and rolling with the great changes.  They are the key to bridging the gap between the “digital divide” , that chasm that exists between where we are today and where we are heading.   There is no question we are already dealing with a divide, it started snowballing in the 1970’s and look at where we are from then to now.  It is less than a blip in the time of humanity and yet folks like Ray Kurzweil are actively talking about machine intelligence and transferring our consciousness into machines.

The question of INTENT in communication and business management has to be on the table.

Going on.. we are guessing on “HOW TO” motivate the millennial, discounting the Gen X’r and disregarding our humanity.  Here is a list of “surprising” ways to motivate millennial workers?

Forbes author Jenna Goudreau writes in Surprising Ways to Motivate Millennial Workers that employers should (could) motivate this younger generation by doing these things listed below.

1) Explain The Company Vision

“If you can explain the whole picture, it connects the meaning to the person,” says Jeremy Kingsley, leadership expert and author of Inspired People Produce Results. Millennial workers are more likely to look for meaning and impact in their work and aren’t satisfied simply punching a clock. Helping them understand their role in a larger plan gives them a clearer sense of purpose. ”It makes them feel valued, which in turn boosts productivity,” says Kingsley.

2) Prioritize Community Service

A comprehensive study by the Pew Research Center in 2010 found that millennials place a higher priority on helping people in need (21%) than having a high-paying career (15%). Dan Epstein, the CEO of business consultancy ReSource Pro who has a staff comprised of 90% millennials, says allowing employees to form committees and use company resources or time to organize their causes meets their desire for social consciousness. Whether it’s weekends with Habitat for Humanity or time off to run in charity marathons, the company’s encouragement helps them feel good about the company. “In order to tap into their creative energy,” Epstein says, “we need to be respectful of the things they care about.”

3) Develop In-Between Steps And Titles

More than their Baby Boomer parents or Gen X older siblings, millennials are especially eager to progress in their careers and less willing to wait three to five years for a promotion. “By developing in-between steps and titles, managers can meet their desire for career progression,” says Epstein. “It also provides incremental training and experience that will aid them later with larger career advancement opportunities.”

4) Give Encouragement And Regular Feedback

“This generation responds well to encouragement and immediate feedback,” says Kingsley. “People need to know they’re being noticed.” The good news? It’s free. A simple “thank you,” “congratulations” or honest, supportive feedback from a manager can make all the difference, fueling their motivation to produce results. While the millennial generation has been criticized as being needy or wanting undue rewards, Kingsley says there’s a balance to be found. Make it clear from the beginning that you reward good work, and then keep an open line of communication to let them know how they’re doing and how they can improve.

5) Offer More Flexibility

Work-life balance is one of the most significant drivers of employee retention among millennials. This tech-savvy generation is essentially able to work anytime from anywhere with an Internet connection. Thus, seemingly arbitrary work hours or having to sit at a desk all day is less appealing to them. A 2012 study of the generation by Griffith Insurance Education Foundation discovered that millennials will sacrifice pay for increased vacation time and the ability to work outside the office. Offering flexible scheduling, occasional telecommuting or even unlimited vacation time—provided performance remains consistent—can meet their desire for flexibility while also showing your trust.

6) Provide Education And Professional Development

According to a 2012 survey by staffing agency Adecco, 68% of recent graduates identified good opportunities for growth and development as one of their top professional priorities. “Most in this group are hungry and want to advance,” says Kingsley. “If you do not provide development, it’s like a slap in the face.” Assigning stretch projects, bringing in speakers or sending employees to leadership conferences will be especially helpful for those millennial workers interested in learning and growing their skills.

7 ) Give Them Time For Personal Projects

“On a regular basis, allow team members to work on whatever they want,” says Tim Elmore, the founder and president of Growing Leaders, a non-profit dedicated to youth leadership development. Progressive companies like 3Mand Google have had success offering employees time to work on a project of their choosing, helping them feel more engaged and in control and also boosting innovation within the company. “This allows young employees to take initiative, be creative and produce something on their own.”

Are we SOLVING the Wrong Problem Precisely?

How are we measuring and documenting “the space between” the intangibles?

Douglas Hubbard has written a book called “How To Measure Anything: Finding the Value of Intangibles in Business.” The book is available here.
“Often, an important decision requires better knowledge of the alleged intangible, but when a [person] believes something to be immeasurable, attempts to measure it will not even be considered.

As a result, decisions are less informed than they could be. The chance of error increases. Resources are misallocated, good ideas are rejected, and bad ideas are accepted. Money is wasted. In some cases life and health are put in jeopardy. The belief that some things–even very important things–might be impossible to measure is sand in the gears of the entire economy.

Any important decision maker could benefit from learning that anything they really need to know is measurable.”

He goes on to explain in detail how to measure intangibles, including sections on how to clarify problems, calibrate estimates, measure risk, sample reality, and use Bayesian statistics to add to available knowledge. He also describes his Applied Information Economics (AIE) Approach that ties together several threads of his ideas:

“The AIE approach addresses four things:
1. How to model a current state of uncertainty
2. How to compute what else should be measured
3. How to measure those things in a way that is economically justified
4. How to make a decision”
Information Economics Approach

Do you know my ?

or my ?

Are we going to content tag our lives?

Will Sharepoint give us the information and tools that we need?

How are we going to recognize when we are succeeding?

Are we going to step on Generation X or step over it?

Do we look to turn change from an unending marathon to a series of sprints? –Change Fatigue?

How do we define success for our future workforce by dollars alone or by time for an individual + stability?

How do we quantify and qualify individual intent?

How do we convey intent?

How to we rationalize and manage intent?

How do we introduce emotional intelligence into the workplace?

How do we build and manage trust with our workforce of the future?

How do we escape judgement from businesses via Facebook?  (Am I my Facebook account from now on?)

How do we convey that we “feel”? How can we tell the machine that we “feel”?

How does the machine know when it provides raw explicit information back for analysis what the undertone or underlying context is?

Further examination.

While we are moving towards automation of a great many things.  We are still human today.  We still need to see, feel, hear, smell, hug, hold, embrace, and sense.  Technology should never be the driver, it should exist to enable.  The hammer does not build the house.. maybe the 3d printer will but for now, it is a human and he can identify a problem just by senses and caring.  These tacit knowledge components must convey to the next generation and as the Boomers are leaving.. it is the X’rs that will carry this torch.

Business should not forget “The proper care and feeding of employee X” ~

Forgive any misspellings and or grammatical errors. I was yelling and rolling around on my keyboard and I did this on my galaxy asdf in 140 characters or less in 2 minute spurts while walking through streets and grocery stores and stuff ignoring everyone around me like they didn’t exist and listening to music…  🙂

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