Caribbean Millenials

I read an excerpt from Claire Raines’s book “Connecting Generations” (2002) and found it to be outstanding in describing the characteristics of each generation — she is spot on.

However, I have found that our new recruits who fit the Millennial profile (age) with first degrees have certain characteristics that have proven to be a management challenge to generation-x managers.

These new graduates have just received their Bachelors degrees and are already aiming to their Masters Degree right away with little or no work experience.

When they enter the new organisation, their department is populated with a cross section of generations working at various tasks; this poses a diversity management challenge in itself. Apart from the obvious differences, the attitude, work ethic and expectations are so far removed from the other generations.

With minimal work experience, they expect to be placed in high level jobs. Organisations need to determine the candidate’s ability to do the job at a lower level first before entrusting the candidate with higher order responsibilities. They think they are much better than they really are.

On way of managing such situations, is to give the candidate projects that they believe they can deliver, while allowing for time to do any necessary re-work. I have found, after much time, and many excuses for non-completion, an admittance of ignorance and a request for assistance with a humbling demeanour usually follows.

The humble, open, attitude is welcomed by all co-workers and now the substantive on the job learning can take place without the inhibitors of “feeling of this is beneath me”. This usually builds competence, experience and ability.

The notion or the perception of a false sense of ability coupled with an air of arrogance can be addressed with a sobering dose of “on the job reality”.

Compensation is another high expectation that follows from an inflated sense of ability. Millennials benchmark themselves against their peers and expect the same status and or compensation even if they as individuals are not as competent in their respective fields as their peers. Long ago, I (Gen X) was told by my parents (baby boomers) “don’t look at what other people have, you don’t know what they had to do to get it”.
The Baby Boomers in our organisation also complained to HR about the lack of manners by the young millenial employees. The comment was “they don’t even say good morning, good day, please, thank you, excuse me”. We are in the process of addressing this in our orientation and diversity management workshops leveraging off our Guardian Angel programme here at Guardian Life.

The older generation considered it an honour to have a job and worked for work’s sake. Baby Boomers characteristically have worked hard because their self-image was based on their career. The teenagers and the twenty something year olds are in the “no fear” category, they are not motivated by threats, progressive discipline or loss of job and this comes across as arrogant and disrespectful to the other generations.

Claire Raine identified unique and compelling messages fed to the Millennials. They are: be smart, you are special, don’t discriminate, 24-7 connectivity, achieve now and serve your community. As I reflect on this, I tell my one year old son, he is smart and special all the time and I chose a pre-school for him to start attending in 2010 by placing his name on a waiting list since he was one month old.

In conclusion, the key is to get to know each individual and what drives him/her to be able to determine the best work plan and style that will achieve on time deliverables. It would be interesting to know if any other organisations in the region experienced similar behaviour.

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That Dirty Word: Work!

These random thoughts express my observations of people, places and issues in the Bahamian workforce.

If you watch the typical Bahamian workplace through the course of the day, you may see something like this.

Jerry and Glenda arrive at around the same time, exactly 9:00 a.m. After settling at their respective desks, Glenda determines that she needs some tea because getting the kids to school on time is such a mad rush in the mornings and with the terrible traffic, there is hardly enough time to get on the road and be on time. So, of course there’s no time for breakfast. Glenda heads to the office kitchen where she finds Gina and Rhonda already having breakfast while the tea kettle boils. She joins the animated conversation about the awesome conference that was going on at Rhonda’s church this week.

Jerry bought a .99 cent breakfast combo, and the stench of tuna salad, steamed ham and grits with butter waft pervasively through the office, leaving a lingering cloud of grease and onions hovering over the cubicles. He has a report he has to complete so he can’t take the time to stop and eat breakfast in the kitchen. “Let me make a call to my Rotary president first. I need to confirm the agenda for tonight’s meeting.” Jerry spends about 20 minutes on the phone with the Rotary president who sends him an email that he asks him to print for the attendees. “Sure,” Jerry says, and makes 50 copies at the copy machine on the second floor. It’s now 9:45 a.m. and neither Jerry nor Glenda has actually started to work, even though they are both at work.

The day continues in the same fashion. I’ve seen some workplaces where the team’s greatest focus was the discussion about where they were going to get lunch from that day. Or the folks that use the lunch hour for other business and bring their lunch back to the office to eat it, using up yet another half hour of the work day. Let’s not forget the holy hour that begins by 2:30 p.m. every afternoon: ‘school pick up’, where every parent, aunt, uncle, cousin, brother or sister has to pick up at least one child from school. The traffic again at this time is horrendous and the stressful worker may make it back by 3:30 p.m. but by this time, is feeling so drained and unfocused that this time may be spent on sending texts, instant messenger, the telephone or more water cooler chat until 4:30 p.m. Of course by now the witching hour is approaching and as soon as the hour hand moves toward the 5 if not before, the exodus for the exit begins. Do not try to get served at 4:55 p.m. You will be told by that clerk, anxious to leave and frustrated because you have come to block her departure, “We closed.” All accompanied by the customary ‘suck teeth’ and look of disgust.

Yes, it seems as if work is a dirty word for some workers today. Why is it that managers and heaven forbid, customers, get the attitude and rolling eyes and ‘suck teeth’ when they ask people to do what they’re being paid to do? Is that what our workplace has evolved into? What causes this lack of connection in the workplace between the work and the worker?

My observations have been the following:

1. Management
Staff may not be motivated, inspired or held accountable by managers. As a result, they are not interested in the work that they are assigned. Perceived favoritism, manager’s inability to lead or discipline others in the team or the manager’s own lack of knowledge about the job may also contribute to this attitude. It’s almost like school children. When I was in the classroom early in my career, you got the most out of your students if they liked you. If they didn’t like the teacher, they didn’t like the subject. When you engaged the students, they loved the subject. The same seems to be true today at work.

2. Lack of interest in the job
It amazes me how little passion many employees have for their work. It amazes me even more to find that the more people I talk to reveal that they are not doing what they love to do. As they get older and add to their responsibilities, and increase their debt, they feel trapped in a job that pays but does not deliver meaning or worth. Therefore, it becomes a mindless, heartless routine. Dr. Myles Munroe, author and speaker, describes at as ‘people being preoccupied with their preoccupation.’
3. Boredom
The unchallenged worker becomes unoccupied very quickly. Either he has mastered the task or he has not been given enough to do for his skill set. It is important to know the full capabilities of the team so that work can be evenly and fairly distributed according to their interest and ability. Otherwise, the idle worker will only be a distraction to the rest of the team and perhaps even become a discipline problem, be chronically absent, or worse, venturing into entrepreneurship with company resources and on company time…”I don’t have anything else to do, I might as well do what I really want to do” is the cry. I have even seen workers who clock in and leave to go to another job and maybe come back – if you’re lucky.
4. Low skills
Low skill levels can cause an employee to feel overwhelmed by the tasks assigned and the easiest thing to do is not do anything at all. They may hide behind other deadlines, other employees completing their work, or avoiding their manager altogether. There is hope for these, once they admit they need help, and observant managers diligently get to the root of the matter. Additional training and coaching can turn this situation around if handled with patience, genuine interest and care for that employee’s development.
5. Disillusioned about the company
If an employee feels disgruntled, he or she may feel that by being unproductive he or she is hurting the company through their spiteful, passive aggressive actions. And to some degree, they are right. Lack of productivity does affect the bottom line but the catch is when you don’t perform, you can be disciplined or dismissed for your lack of productivity. It is always best to listen to your disgruntled workers. Some complaints may just be from those who feel the company can never do enough to satisfy them but at the root of many a complaint, is the source of a deeper underlying problem in the workplace that may demand an intervention.

While management has tried to put measures in place to decrease distractions for the worker: limited internet access, onsite cafeteria, policies about company phone and cellular phone use, and tougher managers to enforce the policies, productivity is still an issue in many workplaces. Whatever the reason for the unproductive workforce, it is the responsibility of a good HR professional with the cooperation of the entire management team to assess the tenor of the organization to determine what needs to be changed, refined, or improved so that employees are engaged and happy to work rather than the opposite.

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Bringing in Expats

istock_000002337283small.jpgAs the influence of CSME expands, it’s more and more likely that HR professionals in the region will be involved in assisting an employee to transition from one country to another.

The skills they need to help the employee are not easy to obtain, unless the HR practitioner has some direct experience themselves in being transferred.

I tackled the question in my blog, and also in a recent issue of FirstCuts.

In my blog, I talked about the fact that the skill of transitioning expats is an emerging trend.

In FirstCuts, I tackled the question of Caribbean expats moving from one country to another, and the lack of preparation that is provided coming from an expectation that transition in the Caribbean “must be easy” because “we are all Caribbean people.”

It is an area of the profession that has not gotten a lot of attention, but perhaps this might change in the near future.

“Tourist” Service

In a few articles I have written, I have talked about the 3 kinds of experience that customers have access to here in the Caribbean: Tourist Service, Friend Service and “Res a Dem Service.”

This video is funny — and it has a serious message at the same time about the Caribbean tourism product and what we do to create “Tourist Service.”

(Don’t skip over the visitor’s comment about the music at the end.)

A New Public Sector Regional HR Conference

istock_000002927766xsmall.jpgApparently, there is a new HR conference that is coming back to the Caribbean. Last year’s version was held in Barbados.

The following email was sent to the members of the CaribHRForum discussion list by a presenter at last year’s conference — Dr. Kwame Charles.

2008 Caribbean Region Public Sector HR Conference

June 24-26, 2008

Hyatt Regency Trinidad

Port of Spain, Trinidad

Continue reading “A New Public Sector Regional HR Conference”

Why Does CaribHRForum Need a Website?

caribhrforum-logo.jpg

If you are a long-time subscriber to the CaribHRForum discussion list you may well be wondering to yourself — why does CaribHRForum need a website, a blog and all that stuff?

Well, as useful as the CaribHRForum discussion list is to have, it’s a tough idea to describe to someone who has never experienced a discussion list before.

I decided based on the feedback from HR professionals to provide something more tangible, and something more welcoming. I especially had in mind HR professionals across the region who aren’t all that computer savvy, and who still want to network and connect.

This blog and website are a way to expand the conversation we have been having on the discussion list to include more of our colleagues, and to provide other ways for them to share the information, discussion and other good things that we on the CaribHRForum discussion list have been sharing for several months.

Thankfully, this site can be expanded easily, and new content can be added with just a few clicks, ensuring that our information remains timely, relevant and fresh.

So, welcome to the new, expanded CaribHRForum!

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