“I had an entry-level candidate ask me in the interview, ‘What is the vacation policy?’ In the interview!”
“Oh, I know. My junior people want to work from remote, just like people who’ve been with us for 10+ years.”
“Seriously, why can’t they just put their heads down and work? I worked my a** off at their age. And I didn’t ask questions.”
“Don’t worry, soon enough reality will hit and they’ll stop job hopping, put their heads down, and get to work.”
I made up this conversation from remarks I hear senior leaders make all the time. And because I work with mid-level managers every day, I smile. We aren’t going back. As this article my friend Rick sent me suggests, the smart money is on figuring out the new rules so you can get more from your team. And if you are a middle manager with direct reports, trust your instinct:
- Let your team own their own development – This doesn’t mean you don’t have to do anything. It means today’s middle managers are very receptive to programs that support their growth and teach them how to advocate for themselves, not ones that sell your organization. Millennials assume they will work at several organizations. They won’t be lured by promises of employer loyalty. Bring in programs that focus on helping them gain control over their destiny. They want to learn what they can offer, and be in a mutually beneficial relationship with you where the power is more equal.
- Embrace remote and flex time – You know how to manage relationships remotely and can work super effectively over text, email, and video-conference. So let your team do their thing. Focus on output, not office face-time. And, be aware that technology can let your team vent to remote friends instead of dealing with the issues that frustrate them. That can lead to passive-aggressive behavior or lack of engagement. Be proactive about frequent and transparent check-ins. Model how to take feedback by learning the rules. Don’t be the manager who defaults to “I never would have said that to my boss!”
- Encourage downtime – Technology has let work seep into life 24/7. Encourage your team to check out. And, don’t send them emails on evenings and weekends – you aren’t modeling checking out. Plus, it will distract them and interrupt the critical time they need to restore.
- Tend to your culture and on-boarding – With more people working as contractors, make sure your on-boarding process gets them up and running fast. And, make sure they know the values and rules that support your culture.
My Creating Your Own Engagement, Influence Using Social Style and Taming the Inner Critic seminars help you take the mystery out of inspiring your team. Learning the keys to today’s employees, you can stop wondering how to hold on to your best talent, and get them to take initiative and work with you enthusiastically, without falling apart when the going gets tough.
To bring these programs to your company, to try them out as lunch and learns, email me to set up a time to talk.