Some years ago I caught myself saying something like this: "Yea, I just don't get those Millenials, they jump from job to job, and I just don't get them." Verbalizing that caused me to pause. Was I just repeating what others have said or did I feel that way? The truth was, I did not feel that way. I did realize that the generation before me said the same thing about my generation and so on. Immediately, I felt those feelings of disconnect when I was young and starting in the glass industry. What am I saying?!? I'm still young, smack in the middle of Generation X! 

In this blog post, I will present why my thinking was wrong and how we can all utilize the effects our generation has on us, in the working world. 

Image: (Joi Ito)

Image: (Joi Ito)

A few years ago I was stumped at how to get an employee to perform. This person was drifting away; unhappy at work, they wanted to pull away from doing key things for the position they were in. It was a crushing meeting to have. I believed in this person, enjoyed working with them, and at the start was excited about their enthusiasm for the company. But, somewhere along the line we lost the ability keep them motivated, and now we were faced with losing this person to another company or doing the least-fun part of business, letting them go. Sadly, this person had a manager who didn't recognize that how they were hard-wired to work was a critical part of getting the most out of them. This is an issue we all face as we work with a diverse workforce. 

We eventually side-stepped this person into half-time in one job role and a half in another. We needed to figure out how to better use this person and find out why we were not able to retain them. This bought us time. Some may ask why even bother buying time, just move on to someone else. The why is simple, people we employ are our most important investment and capitol expenditure. 

In the end, we had personnel changes which allowed a new manger to come in. The manager's style of managing was collaborative and inspiring. Turns out, collaboration and inspiration is a key generality of the employees generation. It's how that person worked. Ever since the change, this person's productivity increased and their contribution to the overall team grew

  • As of 2015 more than 33% of the work force was Millenials
  • By 2020 the workforce in the US is expected to be over 46%.

Understanding our people is one of the most key aspects of leading a team or company that a leader can put on their radar. The generation we are a part of has helped to generally shape us in how we work and what we can offer to an organization. From those who are about to retire to the now largest generation working today, the Millenials, each has general talents and specific ones to that person. Differences are not something to be feared but something to understand and utilize. I have many stories where investing in people has helped make ICD a better organization. 

Do you have an experience in how you invested in your people, come comment and share!