As the Millennials enter the workforce many old beliefs clash with new perspectives; may it be the organization of work or the motivation and treatment of employees.
Many times I have made the experience that the common belief is that if something is not working like somebody has imagined it, there needs to be more control, more rules. If control and micro-managing are not bringing the desired output there needs to be punishment. If punishment is not working, than the person dealt with is hopeless and needs to be let go.
All too often I have made these experiences and I have always found it more than disturbing. Not primarily because I, a member of the Generation Y, was the target of it. These experiences actually helped me to get more aware of the underlying pattern. A pattern that I think is showing how little respect we pay to humans in the workplace.
Today I would like to highlight some advice that can be used in a human-centric perspective to bring out the best in a person as well as to improve the situation for all involved. This highlights that managing people and soft skills are the new hard skills.
Inspire me instead of belittling me
Instead of telling me what I did wrong show me how I could do it better next time. Why blaming me for something that I might not be aware of? If you know it better than simply tell me. That will make you a bigger person instead of trying to make myself smaller. Tell me what and why in your opinion is the best way to do things. Show me how I could benefit from it. Make me bigger as well.
Focusing on the differences will bring up differences and it will make me feel worse. Does it make you feel better? Will I perform the task better next time if I know how to do it properly? Might this save time and energy for you?
Before you assume, ask me
Don’t blame me for things I might not have done. Before assuming why things are like they are, ask me if I know something about it. Instead of confronting me, which will put me immediately in a defensive position, a curios attitude might lead to an honest reply. Describe the situation and ask friendly, but demanding if I have contributed to it. In that way I am willing to help out or might even apologize if I realize that I have done something inappropriate.
Understand my perspective
Ask me why I did it and I will explain my reasoning. It might be that out of my perspective acting in a certain way seemed more appropriate to me. Believe me that I gave all my effort and acted according to my best knowledge. Do not get upset because I was thinking before acting. Realize that there are different ways of doing things.
Use my feedback for improvement
My reasoning might surprise you because it shows a new way of handling things. Without judgement or your first reaction that everything that is different to your way of handling things is wrong, take a moment to reflect. Pause. Evaluate if my reasoning actually offers a new perspective that you have not thought of yet.
Appreciate my effort
Tell me if the new insight was of value and actually improves how things are handled. Appreciate my way of seeing things from a new perspective. Let me also know if this was not appropriate and tell me why. In that way I can learn from it and adapt my actions for the next similar situation.
Set a good example
You cannot expect me to behave in a certain way if you are not living up to it yourself. Set a good example with your own actions. That is called integrity. Live up to your own rules first.
Implement clear procedures
If you want to have things done in a certain way make sure that clear procedures are in place. Make sure that these procedures are channeling certain actions and are not counterproductive to what my task is. Stick to these procedures and don’t make exemptions. Otherwise you are confusing me and I do not what is right or wrong in your eyes.
Focus on one thing at a time
Do you want me to finish one task at a time? Then give me time to do it. Do you want me to do everything at the same time? Realize that multitasking does not exist and it might take longer than to do one task after another.
Realize my effort
Change takes time and not always is it possible to change completely with the first try, especially if I am learning a complete new skill. Respect my learning effort. See the small changes I am making and that I am trying to adapt. Focus on the process I make and not on that I still have not reached my desired destination or state of change. Appreciate my improvements. Understand what is holding me back from reaching my goal. Asking might be a good start. Then show me how I could overcome this obstacle.
Your job title does not give you a privilege. It gives you a responsibility. Your responsibility is to respect me, so that I am motivated to do my job. So that I am willing to pay attention to what I am doing and not just simply follow your orders, which in my eyes do not make sense. But why should I even think about telling you this or showing you an alternative way, if you are not respecting the human I am?
Respect my humanity
Respect me as a person. Focus on my strengths and the value I can bring, although it might be different from what you imagined. See my whole personality. Understand what effect your actions have on me. Accept me as I am. Don’t hide me. Let me shine, so that you can shine as well.
I am asking a lot of you. But I have to offer a lot as well. If you can let your ego go out of the way, we both can bring your experience and my new insights together. We both could accomplish so much more. Are you willing to risk it?
Do you feel understood and appreciated at work for the effort you bring every day?