The other day I was working with the company and had a chat with the management team. There is that recurring pattern where managers just want people to work, do as they are told, don't cause unnecessary problems by calling sick or god forbid have personal problems, and treat everyone the same. They want to go by the rules, apply policies even if they are not suitable, play it black and white and ignore context. Everything that is not about work is an inconvenience to them.
They want robots and the copy-paste version of themselves. They do not want to deal with the human aspects of work and I cannot even blame them so this is what I explained to them.
Historically speaking, work had very little human aspects to it. The Hawthorn experiment was probably amongst the very first ones that identified human needs for attention. In the past decade, we have started to pay attention to people in the world of work but we failed to educate managers and leaders about it.
Yes, we threw out programs of well-being, psychological safety, trust, individualisation etc. but we never told anyone this simple thing:
Guys, up until now your job as a manager and leader was solely focused on getting the job done and running the organisation. However, like everything else, human needs have changed and it means your job must change too. From now on, part of your job is to pay attention to the people and see them as humans not only as people who come and do the job and go home. Today, employees do not want to be treated as robots and they will:
Have personal issues
Have motions you have to address
Not tolerate being shouted at (they are raised by parents who never shouted at them so you think they will put up with it at work?)
Want to be treated as individuals
Want to be included and their opinion heard
Not have the same work ethic and motivation as you have and they certainly don't want to be compared and hear "When I was..."
Have different priorities
View the world differently
Not want to work extra hours to get that promotion
Not sacrifice their personal lives for work
Needs, priorities, work ethic, and the way they view things have changed. The way they were raised (gentle parenting) has changed the rules you can interact with them and they will not bend according to your style.
I don't think the new generation is the problem. I think the problem is that we collectively failed to educate our managers and leaders about this change. We haven't worked on shifting their mindset from "work is work, put on a mask and get on with it" to "remove the mask, be you, and get the job done."
We failed to change their view on what people management is. It is not only getting the job done but getting the job done through your people. The focus is still on task completion, KPI achievement and budget. There is very little attention left for the people and they feel ignored and when this shows up in their behaviour managers and leaders get upset and say "They just don't want to work". Here is the thing, the quality and quantity of your team's output will be equal to the amount of attention you pay to them as human beings.
Remember, this generation had their parents' attention 24/7 and now you want them to get on with work with no attention? Come on!
We are all very quick to post "Everyone is dealing with something you don't know so be kind.... bla bla...." True! But at the same time, every generation was brought up differently and this, my friend determines the way you must deal with them and we cannot continue parroting the "When I was that age...."
If you want to understand the younger generation and how to handle them come and join me tomorrow.
PS: I do not want to be managed or led by anyone who says "You know when I was you age I worked 18 hours and it made me tough...." Ok, Sharon, you go and do that I will be somewhere else.