It is very interesting to read recent posts from Frank Clayton and Charlie Walker-Wise about millennials’ attitudes and values. Their remarks make valuable contributions to the rolling discussion about this demographic, which seems to me to be often unfairly slighted for being work-shy, recalcitrant and pessimistic.
So much written about Millennials suggests that they are turned off by the way generations before them have done things. As someone engaged in professional learning this interests me.
Millennials, it would seem, are more civic and community minded than their predecessors. Lacking the financial security from which their parents have benefitted they are not as interested in a career path as generations before them. Instead, meaningful work, creative outlets and immediate, interactive feedback mean a lot. One only needs to look at a random selection of start-ups to see this behaviour in evidence.
What does this mean for those of us now who work in more traditional institutions, based on and run by baby boomers or Gen X-ers? It’s an important question because bigger and slower moving organisations still need to employ, engage and retain millennials.
I intend to keep this blog short; I hope that is a pleasing first sentence. I want to toss you a tough piece of meat to chew on or, rather, give you a piece of astroturf to lay…
Last Week Tonight
Are you fans of UK satirist, John Oliver, and his HBO show “Last Week Tonight”? It is broadcast in the UK on Sky Atlantic.
For me, it is required viewing on a Monday night.
This week, after his usual verbal fusillade at President Trump, Oliver does a lengthy piece about something called “Astroturfing”. You can watch it here, https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x6rxztf. There is an ad for a web-site building business fronting the piece.
As ever with Oliver, his soliloquies contain some strong profanity. His frustration at the legal advice constraining him from saying what he wants to remark is palpable and a joy to watch.
Let’s be clear from the outset, I love technology – it’s exciting, cool (two things I’m not), saves time, keeps us informed and offers us unbridled access to the accumulated knowledge of humanity at the touch of a button.
My worry is that we’re developing such a thirst for the speed of interaction, like a hit of adrenaline that we’re missing out on the richness of the experience and the value it can bring.
Don’t worry, I’m not about to launch into a diatribe about the evils of Facebook – although I do think there’s a case to answer – what I worry about is this trend for “liking”, “tweeting” and “sharing”, rather than reading and understanding!
On July 12th, the FT published an article headlined “The UK’s productivity problem: the curse of the ‘accidental manager”, you can find it here – https://www.ft.com/content/b96ce8f2-5dd9-11e8-ad91-e01af256df68.
Are pork pies good for you?
It is somewhat disquieting to read that the “Peter principle”, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_principle, continues to thrive in UK business. Our poor productivity performance arises because too many people gain promotion into managerial roles beyond their level of natural competence. However, in the firm featured in the FT article performance is improving.
It strikes me, however, that simply hanging up figures of Superman (is this unconscious bias by the firm’s leaders?), and doling out pork pies are rather superficial practices. The only likely outcome of this epicurean approach is hardened arteries.
The firm’s performance growth is due to its managers doing something much more profound, i.e. the way they “serve” their employees, see Robert Greenleaf’s Servant Leadership, https://www.amazon.co.uk/Power-Servant-Leadership-Robert-K-Greenleaf/dp/1576750353/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1531821205&sr=8-3&keywords=robert+greenleaf.
At the simplest level, they should be talking to their employees as equal partners striving for success. When this is achieved, I hope they’re rewarded with more than cholesterol laden pies!