Here is the next big challenge for your company! BY SOULAIMA GOURANI ON MAY 21, 2012
In three to four years, you may have to turn down orders from your customers simply because you will not be able to service them. Why? Because unless you do not depend on physical employees or can take advantage of outsourcing, you will find yourself lacking the resources most critical to your company’s success. The young people who make up today’s employees and customers are a selective group who have the power to make more and unexpected demands. What can you do right now to ensure that the young generations will choose your company when they enter the workforce? Tomorrow’s success stories will be those who adapt their organization and approach toward young employees so that they will want to work for them and not the competition. In order to do this, you will have to change both structure and behavior (particularly your own behavior) to work hand in hand with young people’s views on work, life, and career. However, the problem (yes, not the challenge—the problem) is that many of us do not even know what young people want. Do you know what they want?
Do you put young people off? Managing young people has always been challenging. Nothing new under the sun here.But it just is not all that simple anymore. What you must realize is that now there are only five years between each generation, whereas previously, there used to be a whole lifetime. This means now, two siblings can belong to two different generations. This in turn places new demands on companies and managers. In fact, there has never been a more challenging time to be a manager than today. Managers need to be aware of what motivates their employees and their expectations in the workplace. They need to remember that most young people are no longer content to simply be crammed into the organizational framework that most companies offer today.
“They will become like us” A veteran manager recently told me, “Young people just need to get deeper into debt, then they will be forced to work just like us and our worries will be over.” Unfortunately, it is not that simple. Each generation’s perspective about work and leisure is very different from others. Are you ready for this new type of employee? How much do you know about them?
Is your company dying? Will your company thrive or become extinct within the next five years? Companies who survive this exciting “post-crisis” time must see differences between generations as an opportunity, and not an obstacle. The successful company ditches the idea that everybody is equal and must have the same background and experience to contribute to the company’s development. They will train managers to take each employee’s individuality into consideration and strengthen their ability to communicate on the platforms that people are actually using. They will recognize that in five years, traditional job descriptions will no longer exist and that young people will define tasks on their own.
So what are young people looking for? Young people choose who they want to lead them and will follow another leader when they need new inspiration and want to learn something new. Traditional systems, monitoring methods, and control measurements are on the way out and are being replaced by meaningful, passionate, authentic forums, etc., where the individual employee works for a value-based organization and a leader who is both competent and personally involved.
“Make sense or take a walk!” Your big challenge in the next five years is to discover “meaning.” Why does your company exist? Is there a meaning or purpose aside from profit and revenue? What your company stands for plays a pivotal role in attracting and retaining young people. They do not want to hold on to their job for a long time unless the job holds some deeper meaning. Even if they are only employed for a short time, they want to be taken seriously and expect to be valued as much as your more experienced employees. Are you ready to ask a senior employee to make way for a young man with no work experience? Can they work together? Are you ready as a company? It is a paradigm shift as most people believe that age, experience, and competencies are more important than “young ideas.” It is hard to say much about what meaning really is, as it varies from company to company, but one thing is certain, and that is that all managers should strive to ensure that each individual employee believes in and is passionate about their work. Meaning stands above everything else. The HR manuals may need to be rewritten because salary, titles, and job security are no longer the motivational factors that they used to be. Instead, your ability to demonstrate strong corporate values will become more important than ever. This and your organization’s culture will become your strongest weapons in the fight to attract bright young people.
Why on earth should they work for you and your company? If you want them to help live out your entrepreneurial dream, you have to turn them on and not off!
Think about why young people should work under your management. Which strengths or talents do you have that will appeal to them? Those are important questions you must answer now if you don’t want to lose these resources five years from now.
My concrete advice is that your organization should discuss the following: • Do people want to work for you? And what does it mean to you that you could soon have five generations working side by side in your organization? What impact will it have on organizational structures and management methods? • Which specific tools and methods should you implement to ensure better management across generations? • What can you do to ensure a long-term approach to generation management?