In 2017-2018 we will start seeing more and more of the newest generation of professionals entering the workforce. The iGen, or Gen Z (people born after 1996), are still technically Millennials but they have different beliefs and drivers from the current 20-30 somethings. As the 4th active generation of working professionals enter the marketplace it is now more important than ever to realize that building and leading multi-generational teams is critical to an organization’s success. As Talent Navigation’s previous blog post “Millennials -Who & what to expect” explains, there are a multitude of personalities, many who may not have the same drivers or goals as the GenX population, so leading with yesterday’s mindset is almost assuring your front door will be a revolving one.
We’ve all seen reports, studies, commentaries and more on the differences between generations, including strengths and weaknesses, so we won’t discuss that here but if you’re not aware feel free to Google it (I’m sure a Millennial can help you). What we need to be focusing on is not the differences of each generation but the similarities. We all want to be happy. We all want to succeed. We all want to support the teams we work with and be accepted at work. So, what’s getting in the way? “ME”.
With the world using social media at a hyper-velocity it seems more and more often that we see posts on every possible social platform that says “look at me”. Here’s what I had for lunch, here’s my dog looking in the mirror, here’s my child eating paste. That “Me” mentality has become so normal it has affected how we work together. As a staffing agency and solutions provider, the team at Talent Navigation Experts sees and hears far too often when speaking with candidates as well as hiring managers “It’s not my job” or “Nobody checked for the latest release” or “I can’t hire someone until the VP gives me budget approval” or “These Millennials have no work ethic or are too lazy”. All these problems revolve around being a victim. This toxic thinking is poisoning you and your team, especially the younger generations learning how to conduct themselves at work. As leader’s it is our responsibility to own the solution and communicate that ownership to our employees.
“It’s not my job” becomes “I’ll find out where the gap happened and I’ll fix it”. “Nobody checked the latest release” becomes “I’m going to work with my team to ensure we all understand why it’s important to pull the latest version”. “I can’t hire until the VP gives me budget…” becomes “I must not be communicating effectively with my VP so they can understand our situation. I will get the necessary information together and schedule time to discuss it with him/her”. “These Millennials have no worth ethic…” becomes “I’m going to set the standard for performance and motivate others to follow me”. The shift is simple. Ownership. Even if it’s not your fault, it’s your fault for not owning the solution. If you’re not getting what you want/need to succeed, ask yourself “what am I doing to create a solution and am I communicating that effectively”. This mentality shows our multi-generational teams that finger pointing and making it someone else’s problem is not how we win. The I in Team is you. It’s me. It’s everyone from the top to the bottom. I will own the solution even if it’s not my job. I will help make the team better. I will be the lighthouse to show them the right way to behave. With this leadership approach, used by EVERYONE, we will help various generations erode their differences to work together and find solutions by saying I will do it. Doing this consistently, and holding others accountable when “the victim” shows up, will make everyone feel responsible for the success of the group and get rid of “me”. The iGen will be the perfect group to emulate the “I own it” mentality but we must start using it today with our current teams.