In my travels throughout the country, I’ve been speaking about the challenges and the opportunities created by the different generations in the workplace. And sadly, I am hearing more of the challenges than opportunities… I have come across managers and directors who are a bit frustrated in handling the Y generation. I am seeing a lot of eye-rolling and head-shaking going on as they share their dealings with Generation Y in the workplace!
When hiring the younger generations (Y and soon Z), please remember that they are not just like you— but younger. In other words, they are not a mini-you!
This generation is so very different from the ones who came before it. You can blame it on the times, on their parents, on the technology, and, of course, on the economy—blame it on whatever you want. But remember that they are different than you and your generation, and they have to be managed differently.
Last week I opened the Florida Recreation and Parks Association Conference, and while I was there, I met the most amazing man. He is a member of Generation X (he’s 34), and is the Director of Aquatics for a county in the State of Florida. Eagerly, he shared his three-step strategy for hiring new employees, all of whom are the youngest members of Generation Y in the 18-20 year age group.
Here it is:
Every summer, he hires 90 individuals to fill 70 summertime positions. Why does he do this? Because through his experience working with Gen Y, he knows that several will not be able to get to work on time, stay connected, and follow the rules. So he has to fire some—usually around 20 of them!
After he hires the 90 employees, he begins his three-step process.
The first step is paramount because the next two steps wouldn’t make any sense without it. He trains the entire crew of new employees for a solid week. He sets the expectations and tells and shows them the proper processes and behaviors, as he walks them through the day-to-day procedures. He is clear, and he is specific. He goes over all the rules and regulations very carefully. For example, all lifeguards must leave their mobile phones in the office while they are on duty. No Phones are ever allowed on the job!
The second step is that by the second week on the job, he lets go (fires) the people who break the rules and regulations. (Ouch!) He told me that every year, regardless of how emphatically he stresses the no mobile phone policy, he always gets a few new lifeguards who bring their phone out to the pool. Can you imagine a lifeguard busy on his or her phone, texting or Facebooking, while your kids are swimming?
It’s amazing how quickly people fall into place when they see their co-workers let go.
But then comes the unexpected third step to a rather nervous group. After the first three weeks on the job, our director has a party for the entire new crew. During this fun event, he points out all the good things he sees in his new staff. This positive feedback along with the fun and relaxation make for a happy and productive crew for the rest of the summer.
Over the course of my speaking journey, I’ve spoken to many, many companies and corporations around the country, and I have heard over and over how the one thing new employees lack is proper training. There are a lot of things corporate America can learn from the civil servant work force, the most important being the importance of careful and proper training. And as our savvy Gen X director pointed out, he intensively and thoroughly trains his new employees in all facets of their new job, so everyone is aware of his or her expectations.
The last thing I’ll leave you with is this branding tip that l gleaned from our amazing Gen X director. If you are managing people, especially young people, the three qualities that will help you the most are: be tough, be very fair, and have fun.