Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Free Agents?

We now live in a professional world where the terms used to describe the younger generations are: “free agents", “the entitlement generation”, and “constant negotiators.”

If you are like me, until a few years back, the term “free agent” was a term reserved for professional athletes. When pro football players, for example, finally become true free agents, they get to do more of the dictating of the contract terms and are free to sign with a team proposing the highest offer (which usually includes lots of commas on paychecks.)

That attitude has trickled down to college athletes. If you are a big-time college football recruit these days, chances are you want to know about many areas in which the potential suitor (college) will support you:

· What is your academic support staff like?
· What are your historical student-athlete graduation rates?
· How much playing time are you going to promise me?
· Can I study, eat, and practice in nice, conveniently located facilities?
· How much personal interaction will I receive from the coaching staff?
· How will you use my talents within your system and schemes?

Some college recruiters have been known to go as far as creating a customized play-book which features all the plays the recruit will be used in, and how that specific recruit’s talents will be utilized and developed further.

Think about the message here: The onus for the development is not on the player, but on the college.

Now let’s compare that to today’s college students entering the job market in hot industries like accounting and IT. Do you think they want to know about how they can take charge of their own professional development? No, they want you to paint a picture for them about how you, the recruiter, will take care of that for them. Take a look at those questions again. You will find they can be transferred to your company's efforts in recruiting (and retaining) the best talent. How are you answering them?

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Who are YOU talking to?

You are at your office, or you are in transit somewhere. You are talking to someone on the phone: hard-line, cell phone, or pay-phone (Do they still have those?) Let's keep the person anonymous right now. We don't know if it's a personal call. We don't know if it's a work-related call. We don't know how old they are. We don't know what their title is. The question to you is could we figure it out based on how you act on that call?

That anonymous person could be anyone....

The person is a friend outside of the office.

The person is a subordinate.

The person is your boss.

The person is a new client or new employee.

The person is an old client (where the relationship has been a little bit of a struggle.)

If we video-recorded you and your calls and placed these five different scenarios on YouTube right now, how would they differ? The content would differ of course, but how would your phone etiquette differ, your listening skills, and your enthusiasm?

You know where we are headed here. For example, do you talk differently to your boss than you do to your subordinates? Are you equally enthusiastic? Should you be? Think about it before you receive your next call. Do some reflection. Is there a consistency you want to project in YOUR enthusiasm in talking to people, or do you wish for people to "know their place" based on how you talk to them?

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The iPod - the symbol of generational differences?

It seems whenever a conversation gets started about generational differences, someone from an older generation will bring up the "iPod" dilemma.

We have all heard this. How can kids these days think they can work WHILE wearing an iPod? The younger generations will ask the same question with a slight tweak: How can I, while wearing my iPod, get my work done? And that tweak provides us some insight into the differences.

The first group does not know how an iPod can be justified because it has not been the norm. The second group does not know how wearing an iPod will adversely affect their performance (quite conversely it might do the opposite is their thinking), so they feel justified in wearing it. Actually they don’t think about it that much. An iPod has become part of their life and they are use to getting things done while having it on, so who is to tell them they can’t wear one?

Neither group is wrong or right depending on how you look at it. An iPod may be ok, it may not. But the thinking process should not be centered on the notion that they are not allowed because .... traditionally they have not been allowed!

One thing is for sure, and some will not like this: If you are not going to spend the time to get to know a Generation Y worker, if you are not going to spend the time to show them specifically how wearing an iPod will have an adverse effect on their work, their measurable production, and their success, then why tell them they can’t wear it just because it has not been traditionally allowed? The reasons you could not wear a Sony walkman, 15 years ago, have no bearing on today... you must specifically link it to performance and results. If they perform to your measurable standards, then wearing an iPod while getting there is neither here nor there.