Differing Opinions

Recently I asked my students in my Team Building and Conflict Resolution class, who are all seniors, what they want future employers to know.

Many of them say they are tired of being called “lazy” and that they have a poor work ethic.

They gave examples where they finished their work (in some cases faster than their older colleagues because they used newer technology techniques) and then did not have anything to do, so why sit at their desks looking at the clock or their phone when they could be more getting chores done at home, etc.?

When I mention this to my corporate trainees, their response is that “they should ask for more work, show initiative, and develop new ideas or solutions to problems”.

That got me to thinking about when I was a Gen Z’s age and my relationship with my manager.

My boss traveled sometimes for work and would leave me tasks to complete. Usually, I finished these tasks pretty quickly so I was left to my own devices for at least a few hours with nothing to do.

Many of my colleagues, who were on a different team than me, traveled most of the time so there were not even people for me to converse with. It was frustrating to sit there when I could have gotten other things done outside the office.

Some leaders do not like when their subordinates attempt to make suggestions which I also have witnessed with some of my clients.

These insecure leaders do not want to be upstaged so they disregard new ideas and sometimes even belittle the ones who suggest them. “That will never work here” or “we don’t have the resources, etc.”. 

I chuckle at that because some of the most farfetched ideas are now things we can’t seem to live without, including our cell phones, AirBnB, and Uber.

If you watch the old cartoon sitcom, The Jetsons, that first aired in 1962, most of their daily life is now happening, such as Zoom and robotic maids!

The point is that we need to keep employees engaged no matter what generation they are. 

To do this effectively, the best leaders need to take the time to listen to new ideas and then determine if they are a viable option today but if not, could they be revisited six or twelve months later? 

They need to fully appreciate the person who had the courage to suggest their ideas and especially when this person put in time and effort.

These leaders also need to have open office hours where at certain times each week any employee can schedule a time to have a discussion, even if that person may not directly report to them. 

By doing this, it not only builds trust and respect, but it also can create opportunities for people to develop and grow.

When I point out to some leaders what they would do if someone helped them with their work, they scratch their heads and realize that they could turn some of their responsibilities into learning opportunities for their team.

The issue is that either they hadn’t thought of that before, make the excuse that they can do it faster than their employee, or that they don’t want to lose control.

Regardless of what their answer is they do need to think longer term that if these employees are constantly being thought of as lackadaisical with a bad work attitude then they shouldn’t be surprised when their employees leave (and possibly get others to join them in a new company).

Anyone can be lazy but if employees find the work fulfilling, they are more likely to stay.

Don’t you feel that same way about your job?