Weighing in on this generational thing

Cover of "The Global Achievement Gap: Why...

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As a member of Generation Y , I have to admit that the conversation about generational differences never really intrigued me that much growing up.  Up until a few years ago, other than my family, teachers, and professors, I had been almost exclusively surrounded by my peers of the generation, so I had yet to really witness the tension between my generation and others.  I learned about it school but like many things, until you really see it, it doesn’t mean much.

In the past year I have been asked to weigh in on how generational differences play out in the workplace and in training and development settings.  You might remember my very first blog post for Fireside HR called “Are labels relevant?” where I shared an example of where this came up.  So, while I appreciated people’s sentiment that I would be an expert in my own generation, I thought I should seek to better understand my own generation from both an insider and an outsider’s perspective.

I thought I would summarize some of the interesting ideas and information I discovered.  You can take it all with a grain of salt, and of course, I’ve sourced it.  At the very least, it makes for interesting discussion.

  • This generation’s brain has literally developed differently as a result of growing up with the internet and other technological advances.  The internet has led to an abundance of information and Gen Yer’s brains have learned to sift through mass amounts of information quickly.  They have also learned to be sceptical and question what they read.
  • Gen Yer’s multitask; this seems to be widely agreed upon.  However, whether or not they are more productive as a result seems to be disputed.
  • This generation has a very different definition of “privacy” than previous generations.  Some people congratulate these people on their transparency and willingness to share.  Others are concerned that people who share too much will regret it later in life.
  • Gen Yer’s expect to move up the career ladder faster than their predecessors.  Understandably, this has seemed to annoy some of those who came before them; many have called the generation entitled (or “the Reality Show Generation”).
  • People in this generation have been coddled by their parents and by educational institutions such that they are not prepared for the work place.  Once again, this is a big area of contention in the literature on the subject.

I obviously have a biased opinion about the work habits and values of my generation, and the interesting ideas that I’ve picked out will reflect that.  So, if you are interested, I’d recommend the sources below (this is the tip of the iceberg).  As a Gen Yer, I’d suggest taking it all in with a healthy degree of scepticism!


Krysty Wideen is a learning and organizational development consultant with The Refinery Leadership Partners, based in Vancouver. Failing to leave her day job at work, she often finds herself relating every day, commonplace observations and activities to insights about leadership, business, human resources, and anything, really. Now she has a place to share her observations and insights.

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What’s the Future of Work? It’s all about S.E.T.H.

Human Resources

Image by zachstern via Flickr

 

Recently I wrote about Results Only Work Environment (ROWE) and how it presented one option of job design (or non-design).  There seems to be buzz about ROWE: Netflix kinda does it, BestBuy does it, even the Girl Scouts do it.   And Dan Pink promotes it.  I like Pink.  

I would really love to expand the simplistic equation {work = job} to {work = a variety of options to fit a variety of needs}, or something a little catchier (suggestions welcome!).  But don’t want to just blindly support ROWE.  I know that those in my “social media circle” have talked about the networked economy/enterprise 2.0 and the impact on work: herehere, here, here and here.  

I think there are 4 major drivers for this work overhaul and will take a series of posts to describe them in a little more detail. 

  • There are forces that are happening on a societal level.
  • There are the obvious economic drivers to consider.
  • Like it or not, technology will not disappear in the future, so we need to track those trends.
  • And last, but not least are the demographic or human resources aspects.

Hence the name “SETH”. 

I hope that you’ll weigh in and tell me where I’m wrong or misguided.  Futurecasting (forecasting + imagination) is not an exact science as well all know, and I hope these posts are useful or at least thought-provoking. 


Holly MacDonald is an independent consultant with well over 15 years of experience in the learning & development field.  Holly is a bit of a techno-geek and can often be found playing online.  When she steps away from her computer, she spends time outside: hiking, kayaking, gardening and of course walking the dog.  She lives on Saltspring Island and is a leader in the live/work revolution.

Exit interviews – from both sides of the desk

I have always been a big beliver in exit interviews.  But come to think of it, I have only had an exit  interview in approximately 50% of the companies I have worked with!  Many employers do not conduct exit interviews because they have not done so in the past and therefore are missing out on the opportunity that exit interviews provide for the company.  Although the employer is allowing exposure to possible criticism, this is a unique opportunity to learn the following from departing employees:

Why is the employee is leaving?

What his or her experience was while working at the company?

Is anything that the company is doing well or needs to improve upon?

Is there an opportunity for the organization to enable the transfer of knowledge from the departing employee to current staff in a more efficient manner?

Departing employees are more likely to give constructive and objective feedback than employees still in their jobs.  That said, for the departing interviewee, the exit interview is an opportunity to provide some constructive criticism, leave on a positive note and with a feeling of mutual respect.  Now, I know you are sitting there thinking, “You’re dreaming!” if I think that an employee that is leaving for negative reasons isn’t going to go out with a blaze of glory!

We have all had that one job or boss (whom we should never talk about in an interview) that has created all sorts of nasty scenarios of revenge and dreams of leaving with a case of beer in our hands down the emergency exit like Steven Slater of Jet Blue.  But, spite, vengeful thoughts and feelings should be left at the door. Never burn a bridge that you may later want to cross again.

For both parties, the exit interview is the chance to shake hands and depart as friends.


Dana Sebal has over 10 years Marketing and Human Resources experience.  Outside of her professional career, Dana’s passions include her family, rowing, running, tennis, skiing, yoga, and Beagles.

The “C” Word

I’ll just bet you’re wondering what “c” word I might be talking about…

  • Consultant
  • Compensation
  • Competencies
  • Capacity
  • Communication
  • Change
  • Community-building

Nope.  And not that other one, either.  This is a professional blog, keep it clean.

CULTURE. 

Who among us has not gotten a little squeamish when someone in HR or OD uses the word? 

Don’t get me wrong, I think culture is hugely important, but when I hear of HR colleagues working on “culture initiatives” or “changing our culture”, I worry that we are heading down Alice’s rabbit hole into Wonderland, especially if it is on the HR strategy or we are talking directly to executives about funding for an initiative.  This is potentially a credibility-killer for us in HR type roles.  Does your executive or board really care about culture, or do they care about the impacts of culture?  I think for the majority of organizations it is the latter.  In some organizations, it’s neither and my advice is: “suck it up, buttercup” and recognize that you are not going to change it my putting in a “culture initiative” or strategy.  You are going to have to be more creative.  A better “c” word if you ask me.


Holly MacDonald is an independent consultant with well over 15 years of experience in the learning & development field.  Holly is a bit of a techno-geek and can often be found playing online.  When she steps away from her computer, she spends time outside: hiking, kayaking, gardening and of course walking the dog.  She lives on Saltspring Island and is a leader in the live/work revolution.

Working with a consultant

OK, so you’ve followed my advice and selected a consultant, and now you are wondering how this relationship might evolve.  How are you going to work together?  What are the rules of engagement? Here are some of my”do’s” and “don’t’s”.

DO…

  • Be as open as you can up front in initial meetings (all interactions, really). Trying to keep that proverbial closet door closed won’t help scope the work.
  • Outline and agree to the work – figure out what is billable, what isn’t.
  • Realize that you’ll have to participate.  Hiring a consultant doesn’t mean that they do everything in a vacuum – they need your time to find out about your organization.  Ask for a time estimate for your involvement as well.
  • Think long term.  For example in the world of training – you can buy (or customize) a program/course, where you will pay ongoing usage fees or you can contract for a work-for-hire where you own the materials outright and control what’s in them, how they are delivered, etc.  Back-test your thinking with some scenarios to see if this is a good call for today and tomorrow. 

DON’T…

  • Go fishing.  If you don’t really think you are going to hire this person for the work, then say so up front.  It is a waste of time and will lead to an awkward conversation and a strained relationship.  If you have no budget to do the work, then just say so.
  • Assume the consultant is at your beck-and-call, be respectful of their time and recognize they have other clients.
  • Pay for a proposal or initial meeting.
  • Buy solely on price.  Be up front with your budget and if you’ve picked a consultant that you trust, they should tell you where they’ll add value and where you can cut costs.  If not, then they aren’t really on your team and are more interested in selling you something.   If you are provided a proposal with a breakdown of costs (based on assumptions), don’t try to eliminate steps because you want to save money.  The steps are not put in to gouge you, but because that’s the logical way of doing the work.  Tell the consultant what you can afford and ask for them to give you a proposal that fits with your budget.

What would you add to my list?  Anything you disagree with?


Holly MacDonald is an independent consultant with well over 15 years of experience in the learning & development field.  Holly is a bit of a techno-geek and can often be found playing online.  When she steps away from her computer, she spends time outside: hiking, kayaking, gardening and of course walking the dog.  She lives on Saltspring Island and is a leader in the live/work revolution.

Choosing the right consultant

I wrote before in defense of consultants.  Today’s post is about choosing the right consultant.  I am the right consultant for some, but not others.  Maybe I’ve got the skills, but not the right style.  Maybe I’ve got the reputation, but not the experience.  Maybe you just don’t trust me, because we’ve just met and you think consultants are smarmy.  The type of relationship will fall somewhere in between life partner and car dealership, give or take a few degrees of opinion.  How do you go about choosing?  Until e-harmony comes up with a “consulting” match service, you might have to do it the old-fashioned way…

Trust – you’ve got to trust that the consultant is going to provide you with their best advice.  So, meeting them and talking to them is kinda important.

Reputation – ask around – have others worked with this person/firm and if so, what was their experience?  Just because you’ve seen their name all over the place, doesn’t mean that they are good or more importantly a good fit for your organization.

Experience – look at the whole of their experience – in today’s world, people move in and out of organizations and they may have spent time “internally”.  One thing many people have said to me, is that they appreciate a consultant who is honest and says “no” to requests that they feel they are not qualified to do and recommend someone else for that work.

Size/scope of work – sometimes you have a small piece of work and can engage an independent consultant/contractor.  Other times your needs are larger and you need a firm with depth (or a well-connected independent who can help broker your needs).

Role – are you looking for a contractor for the individual piece of work or would you like to build a longer term relationship?

Style – do you need someone who is going to take the bull by the horns and tell you what to do?  Or, do you need someone who is going to involve you in the process and collaborate.

In fact, it’s a lot like finding an employee.  So, don’t just treat them like a commodity – buying a surveying service or training product – these folks are part of your talent ecosystem…


Holly MacDonald is an independent consultant with well over 15 years of experience in the learning & development field.  Holly is a bit of a techno-geek and can often be found playing online.  When she steps away from her computer, she spends time outside: hiking, kayaking, gardening and of course walking the dog.  She lives on Saltspring Island and is a leader in the live/work revolution.