Managing Young People In the Workplace
In this episode, Bruce Tulgan sheds light on how “accidents of history” shape generational differences. He offers advice for the latest generations who are entering the workforce as well as for those who hire and manage them. Bruce shares insights from his latest book on soft skills training, including how to get the second wave millennial generation to embrace and develop soft skills. A key takeaway is finding the needle in the haystack and it could be as simple as a couch! Bruce is author, speaker and founder/CEO of RainmakerThinking, a management research, training and consulting firm and a leading authority on generational issues in the workplace.
Key Learnings From This Episode
- Bruce’s Career Journey: From lawyer to what he’s been doing for nearly 23 years, which is researching/interviewing people about their experiences in the workplace. He first wrote about Gen Xers who were characterized at the time as slackers, but who became “techno literate entrepreneurs.”
- Bruce’s Passion: Through extensive interviews and longitudinal research (200,000 managers and 100,000 non managers), he’s become tuned into the experience that managers have every day and is passionate about helping help them with the challenges and significant responsibility of managing and setting people up for success. He has been tracking “new young workers” (from Gen X, to first wave millennials and now the second wave of millennials).
- Generations Differences & Accidents of History: All generations go through the same developmental life stages but it’s the “accidents of history” that make each generation a little different. Second wave millennials grew up in 2000’s during a time of unprecedented change. (E.g. September 11th, 2001 and the financial collapse of 2008)
- How does the “Age Bubble” impact HR or new leaders? There’s an aging workforce at one end of the spectrum and a workforce getting younger at the other end with a gap in the middle (represented by a small Gen X generation). Impact varies by company and industry but older workforce demographics are:
- <1% of workforce was born before 1946 (North America)
- 1946 to 1954 – 13% of workforce (North America)
- 8 - 10K Baby Boomers turn 65 each day
- Younger workforce demographics are:
- Born 1990 and later
- Second wave millennials are flooding into workforce today
- Rising global youth tide or “youth bubble” growing
- First & Second Wave Millennials:
- Gen Z – those born 1990-2000 (also called Second Wave Millennials)
- 1978-1989 First Wave Millennials – everything was great during the 90’s but they encountered career setbacks because of weak economy during the late 2000s
- Second Wave Millennials – grew up in the 2000s during economic crisis, war and terrorism. Raised by “helicopter parents on steroids.” Parents gave a lot of structure, guidance and direction. “Everyone gets a trophy.” Globalization and technology. Biggest single accident of history – they learned how to think learn and communicate via hand-held super computers.
- On Hiring Millennials: Hiring managers say this generation has energy, enthusiasm, technical savvy and great ideas but missing old fashioned basics. Basic work habits such as self-presentation, interpersonal communication, a service mindset. Young people don’t salute. While technically very strong, they lack soft skills. “You can’t hire your way around the soft skills gap…but you can address it in every aspect of your human capital management”
- Bridging the Soft Skills Gap. In Bruce's latest book (see below), he includes 92 lesson plans for what Bruce covers as the 12 missing basics today. Proactive learning: Is one of the missing basics. Important to develop the behavior of pursuing learning on your own initiative and not as just in time knowledge (e.g. Google it!). Self-awareness and personal responsibility are discussed in Bruce’s latest book, but proactive learning is a really important piece of the puzzle.
“You can’t hire your way around the soft skills gap…but you can address it in every aspect of your human capital management”
- Building soft skills training into onboarding. Examples: US Marines Training 13 week onboarding training, Chick-fil-A and Enterprise. Important to identify, communicate and train for the soft skills beginning during the orientation. Young workers don’t realize they are missing the skills. Steps to soft skill training of millennials:
- Aware – make them aware
- Engage them - make them care
- Provide resources
- Coaching style managers are key to practice skills on the job. Recognize and reward behaviors to be taken seriously.
“If you are really worried about keeping somebody engaged and keeping them longer, you’ve got to find that needle a haystack ..... the thing that person really cares about.”
Recommended Reading and References From this Episode
• Bridging the Soft Skills Gap: How to Teach the Missing Basics to Todays Young Talent
• Association for Talent Development
• Society for Human Resource Management