I was working with a client recently and the phenomenon we all know as “Pokemon Go” came up in conversation. The IT professional in the room made a comment that really grabbed my attention. Not that I am a fan or a player of the game by-the-way. My interest in the game has been and still is more analytical than anything else. I mean really! A group of engineers walked into my class recently talking about Poke stops or whatever it is called. I am quite astonished that I am really writing about this but stay with me as I think you will find value in my interest.
Recent years of military softness to cope with millennial recruits have not changed the Marine Corps approach to basic training. I recently interviewed several Marine Corps recruiters to find out what they are seeing when it comes to the modern candidate for membership in the U.S. Marines. The Marines are currently fighting the tendencies of most military organizations to change the expectations for new members of this tribe. I was told that the Marines have not lessened the training intensity required to make young men and women into Marines as is the case in other branches of service. This approach may be having the desired impact on strengthening rather than weakening the draw of young patriots to the world of military service.
A client is doing something quite remarkable. I want to share this with you to end the week on a positive vibe. A long-term employee was recently promoted to manager from his peer group. He has been with the organization for a long time and is a natural fit for the new role. No surprises here so far. However, what the organization did next is a lesson for so many companies struggling and so many more that are severely handcuffed with mediocrity.
It is the end of the world as we know it at work. If we are not changing and adapting we are getting left behind. Today’s employee is different in so many fascinating ways. Today’s employee wants to belong to something special - a tribe at work. Seth Godin legitimized our tribal tendencies in his book “Tribes – 2008”. Today our tendency to form tribes has been enhanced by social media and a strong desire to remain connected to each other at all times. This morning I walked into a fast food chain to order a breakfast sandwich. The store was relatively empty as I was between the breakfast and lunch rush. I walked into the restroom (the door was propped open) and a store employee was standing by the door interacting on his mobile phone. When I walked up to the counter, another employee was texting on her mobile phone below the cash register as she began to take my order. These two young people belong to several tribes. Electronic tribes through social media are no less important in the moment than family and work tribes at other times. More than likely this well-known food chain has policies that prohibit such actions, yet these two were both willing to risk trouble in order to remain connected to their tribes.
Millennials and emerging Generation Zers are proving to be products of contemporary parenting styles. Parenting can certainly be complex. We all make mistakes and learn as we go. Following are the four parents we want to avoid becoming since they limit our children's chance for success when they leave the nest:
I am confused about your frequent complaints regarding the availability of talented people for your organization. You complain that good workers are difficult to find. Help me understand your position and perspective because I just cannot understand your logic. Currently, there are people on your team who do not perform, do not show up, and do not appreciate the job they are asked to complete. Yet you cannot seem to find the desire or ability to remove them from your team. What gives?
Toxic managers may be aware of their toxicity, yet they believe their past achievements and reputation are a justification for the methods they employ. This denial is common for experienced managers who have never been confronted about leadership vs. management. In other words, a marginally successful manager may be an incompetent leader. Settling for mediocrity is more common than we like to admit. Leaders fear many factors that eventually paralyze them to remove a toxic manager. Market availability of talent, location, salary, and other factors result in organizations settling for the “devil they know” rather than the one they might hire.
In my last book, Surviving the Talent Exodus, I predicted that Facebook might become a permanent communication medium in our lives. Today, I communicate with some business connections faster and more often through Facebook. However, as the growth of Facebook slows down, I am starting to notice interesting realities that might indicate Facebook is mortal after all. Not unlike his ancestor MySpace, Facebook is indeed vulnerable. Without significant adaptation, Facebook may also become less significant in our lives. This devaluation could become the fertile soil for something new. As fast as we adapted to Facebook, we could just as quickly adapt to the next interesting twist for social media. So what exactly is threatening Facebook as we speak? The answers are both obvious and subtle. These speculations are likely taking place in boardroom discussions at the now publically owned entity we call Facebook. If they are not being discussed with significant regularity, Facebook will be difficult to sustain. Here are some questions to consider about Facebook’s future.
Teaching supervisors to be more than the one-dimensional “superoperator” (superoperators are simply the best at what they did prior to accepting a new role as boss) of the past requires work and repetition, along with a desire to improve. The position of frontline supervisor, more than any other, can make or break retention goals for any organization. I have discovered some simple strategies that can be taught. With practice and encouragement, supervisors can improve retention for their organization.
As a student of organizational leadership, I analyze the similarities and special characteristics that differentiate one company from another. What makes one organization shine while others seem so content with remaining average? The most likely answer is fear, but the complete answer is, of course, much more complex. Fear of failure transcends the spectrum of our awareness. There is comfort and even safety in the mediocrity of our existence. Therefore, what it takes to leave the comfort of the pack becomes rare.
While I am a strong advocate and firm believer in higher education, it seems to me that we created a culture today that makes a child feel like a failure if they do not complete a four year degree in something. As a result, I am seeing millennials chase a diploma that may limit their opportunities for success upon completion. At the same time many are being saddled with extremely high debt to pay for the education they never intended to use.
I am seeing more and more aspiring young leaders in the training classes I provide for successful organizations. Collectively, managers need to be prepared for a new approach to this high-pressure position. Millennials are quick to learn and eager to compete for the positions being vacated by the boomers, and their early success rate may just surprise you.