Let’s stop complaining about new generations, let’s start working with them

Iva Berná, 10. 2. 2022
General lamentations about disloyalty, unwillingness to respect the rules, impatience and unrealistic expectations of the young generation will help us to vent a little the frustration we experience when employing them, but they will not move the problem of gradual generational change and adaptation to new conditions one bit.

” … so we adapted recruitment and onboarding”


Yes. That was actually the easiest thing about the whole thing. We learned to address them. Shiny recruitment campaigns and promises will attract new generations to the company, but if they raise expectations that we are subsequently unable to meet, young people react with “disloyalty” so many times. They appreciate fairness during recruitment and the fact that we do not hide things that they may consider disadvantages.


Not everywhere can we offer flexible working hours or a great deal of freedom – let’s face it, they are adults and if this is a big obstacle for them, let us be happy that they will refuse the job during recruitment and not during the probationary period.


During onboarding, it’s crucial to enable them to be successful quickly, which is an opportunity for positive feedback – a vital thing for millennials. A huge role in this period is played by the attitude of the superior. In addition, if he can show the young employee the meaning of his work and present the direction in which the whole department and the individual will move, he has half won. The time spent with a newcomer will surely return in the future in the form of a motivated and engaged employee.


Work with young people does not end with a successfully completed onboarding process, it must continue continuously. Their life and work values will not change after recruitment or onboarding, which is carefully set by the HR department. Young people will assertively demand their fulfillment throughout their work for us. The responsibility for how we as a company do this therefore largely passes to their superiors.


We all need to be able to work with them


In fact, working with new generations does not require anything that has not already been discovered in the leadership of people. They want what we call leadership from their superiors. Thus, they place great demands on most of today’s organizations, where leadership is perceived as something that only (some) members of the top management can do. If we can apply the basic principles of leadership at all levels of management, we will not have a bigger problem even with the youngest.


Why we should develop leaders in all positions is answered by several of the greatest working values of Generation Y (LinkedIn Survey 2018), which we cannot do without when employing millennials:


1. Awareness of the importance of your work


Can our managers and leaders define, explain and implement the company’s vision and the vision of our own department? Can they translate it into everyday work and constantly show their people the direction? Can we answer the question, what would the world lose if our company/activity/department did not exist? It is important for new generations to understand the meaning of their work and its benefits not only for shareholders, but for the whole world. They strictly require that anything they do has a clear purpose.


2. They prefer mentors to bosses


Are we ready for the fact that they want to keep developing? Do we know which direction each subordinate wants to go? Have we already understood that development does not mean training? Do we have development plans and a vision for the future for our employees? Can our leaders work with people in this direction?


Instead of formal (or no) plans, leaders must offer a clear vision for their development and actively support it as a mentor. This is where the maximum cooperation of HR and leaders at all levels comes into play. The revolution in the system and the approach to the creation of development plans lies in their incorporation into the practical everyday life of individuals in the company.


3. They expect recognition if they deserve it


In surveys of employee satisfaction – not only young people – there is a regular “lack of recognition” in Czech companies. Past generations have more or less come to terms with this, but don’t expect it from the new ones. Knowing how and how often to show appreciation, and making sure there is something to show it for, is part of every executive’s core business – along with knowing that every person is different and that what applies to one doesn’t work for the other.


4. More feedback = fewer problems


Another evergreen: employees complain that they receive mostly only negative feedback, managers swear to pass it on regularly. Young people do not complain, but leave without feedback. They want to know every day how they are doing – what the leader is happy with and what they need to develop further. In this respect, they can be very demanding of themselves and a good leader can use this to support their growth. Can incorporate feedback into their routine – typically in the form of frequent regular meetings with individuals.


Changes will not come by themselves


The key success factor in integrating and stabilizing new generations of employees into the life of the company and using their potential is therefore a change in some established approaches and stereotypes. This applies in particular to expectations from leaders at all levels, who today are primarily focused on the performance of their department. Shifting focus from performance to people brings more stable teams, sustainable performance growth, and a much-desired change in corporate culture. This in turn supports the engagement of all employees.


The use of well-known basic principles of proper leadership of people with the advent of new generations is becoming increasingly important. But where do the leaders who operate in this way get from? We can raise them. For example, the TWI (Training Within Industry) Job Relations methodology brings structure and clear procedures to the “elusive” discipline that leadership is for many people to approach employees to be satisfied and motivated.


Setting visions for departments and individuals, gradually increasing individual performance while continuing to develop them, supports the Kata approach (based on Mike Rother’s Book Toyota Kata) and teaches leaders at all levels the structured coaching approach so much preferred by Generation Y and Z.


The benefits are then felt by both parties: the employee in the form of continuous development and satisfaction with the approach of the leader and the leader in the form of performance growth, the increasing ability of subordinates to work independently and their natural involvement.


Let’s not forget that in addition to the “problems” due to the different values of generations of employees, the new generation brings a lot of positive things to companies – a natural relationship to the use of the latest technologies, work with a large amount of information, the use of new communication channels, etc. Together with openness and willingness to develop, they have great potential to be a greater asset than a problem in companies. But only if we can really use this potential.