Whether you like it or not change is coming. Instead of trying to avoid it, why not help improve it. Millennials are often getting “blamed” for things now a days and one of them is definitely the workplace. Now that this new generation has taken over the workforce some things are changing such as; pay and compensation, office culture, and even work hours and location. No longer is it required for you to be in the office. No longer is the 8-5 a way of life. Presence in the office doesn’t always mean production, lets talk.
For generations the standard of work was 8-5. You came in in the morning, had your morning coffee and water cooler talk and then headed to your section within the cube farm to punch away on your keyboard while trying not to fall asleep looking at your eggshell white walls and computer screen. You count down the hours until 12 so you can take your corporate allotted hour for lunch in the ever so refreshing break room that smells of stale morning coffee and Tina’s tuna salad she forgot in the fridge last week. Following the break room boredom you head back to your cube to then count down the hours until 5’oclock hit and you can stroll back to your Toyota Prius and drive home only to await another day until the weekend. Blehhhhh.
This methodology has been in place for decades. Being at the office meant you would be productive, most often because the manager was there to breathe down your neck. The problem with this is that what happens when the manager is not around? People would slack off or work would not get completed thus making the manager look bad, which is why we need firm management to hold our people “accountable”. How can we hold our people accountable if we are not watching them? This is the old mindset. Management through authority, they relied less on the environment and culture they have and more on the power of the individual. This is why the people slacked off, it is the same as your children. When kids are young, they are very impressionable, similar to a new employee at an office. When mom and dad are around they are upstanding citizens, picking up their toys, washing their dishes, and even cleaning their rooms! Then when mom and dad are gone havoc breaks loose, this is often when things get broken (including bones), messes are made, and chaos is the standard. The problem is we often blame the children (or employee) for the problem, when really… we should be blaming ourselves.
It is not the employees fault for needing to take a mental break. It is not the employees fault we did not meet the “numbers” just as it is not your kids fault for not being able to drive a car at 10 years old. As a manger and a parent it is not our responsibility to hold our kids/employees accountable. It is our responsibility to give them opportunities to grow and learn, to foster an environment where they don’t feel threatened, and give them the tools and knowledge base to begin to excel at life/work. Again I don’t blame the managers, I think that this goes higher. It starts at the executive level.
As I have said in the past I am not a huge fan of numbers. I think numbers are the easy way out, and the true measurement for companies should be based in their glass door reviews just as often as their bottom line. Numbers are “easy” because the structure of our brain. Our frontal cortex is massive which is what separates us from other animals allowing us to have capabilities to speak, dissect, and analyze massive amounts of information and data. Which is why we have companies that are designed around it, humans are liquids we take the path of least resistance (see people are liquid blog). Managers are bred in this culture and are promoted because of the numbers. When we get hired for a job, over time we become proficient at that job. We then become an expert on that job and even train people to do that job. Then the mistake happens… we promote that person to manager. The reason this is a mistake is that this employee understands how to do the job of the people he is managing extremely well, but what he lacks in understanding is how to manage the people. This will lead him down the path of micromanaging and having people come to the office and so on and so forth. It is not his fault, it is the executives for putting him in a position in which he was not trained to do a job, he was promoted based on presence (or tenure) and his productivity levels.
When we promote a manager we need to first prepare them for the role. They are no longer responsible for the numbers they are responsible for the people. Managers must understand how people work and give help them not by telling them how to do their job, but giving them the tools and learning opportunities to do the job, just as a parent give their children the opportunity to learn and grow. This way when the boss is on vacation or the parents are away you no longer have to worry about what is going on at the office/house. The environment that you have built along with the culture your people believe in are what hold your standard in place. So why do you need to be present to have production?
Presence does not mean production. For so long we have thought that since employees are at the office we are getting work done. It is not about our presence in the office it’s about the environment in which we thrive. Give your employees the opportunities to grow and succeed by learning about them and how they function, not just the numbers they are producing. Find out where they work best, and how they work best. Numbers are the easy route. We can always manipulate the number, choose the path less followed and truly understand your employees. We can talk about how work fills time, we can talk about numbers, but at the end of the day we need to embrace the process of change and how the new workforce is shaping out. Focus more on the process of getting better each day and how you can help your people. Managers are responsible for the people who are responsible for the numbers and its starts with one person heading down the path. How do we get better today? Maybe it’s a remote office, maybe it is work from home Fridays, but in the end it’s a change that needs to happen, because if you’re not willing to change the structure of your company somebody will, and one thing is guaranteed as more millennials come into the workforce… change is coming, will you be ready?