Youth Employers – what do we want?

I’ve read a lot lately about millennials and Gen Y and what it is that they’re looking for in terms of employers. What it is that organisations can do, offer, provide to attract and retain this area of the employment population. But I’ve equally been thinking about it from the other perspective given I’m passionate about youth employment and the roles that everyone plays from Schools through tertiary training providers and organisations play in preparing youth for employment. I regularly attend Job & Careers Fests, WorkChoice Days, meet with Universities, host High Schools and the like in my efforts to bridge the gap as a representative of my views and that of my organisation and feel that an area we’re all missing is what the employers are looking for from the situation. Because 99% of the time a completed degree and an eye catching CV alone aren’t going to cut it.

 

So what do companies want from this largely technologically advanced, digitally savvy sector of the market? I’ve complied a wish list of sorts:

Experience: Those who take the initiative to work part time or during holidays undoubtedly have an edge. They’re already somewhat work savvy. They have likely had to stick to hours, deadlines and task requirements and many will have had to work as part of teams, communicate with others and ideally provide some level of customer service.

Resilience: The ability to spring back from adversity, take the knock, get back up and try again is essential. Being able to look at yourself and learn from situations, people and tasks – to rise from the ashes in the face of tough or difficult times.

Initiative / Nous: Understanding the reality/practicality of a situation outside of having knowledge of the theory, and being confident in suggesting improvements and solutions.

Curiosity: A thirst for knowledge; to continually grow, develop and learn in the present and into the future. Being confident in asking questions and developing an understanding of the business, departments and wider market.

Conscientiousness: An awareness of the world around them. Of colleagues, clients, the wider organisation and extending into the world around them. Collaborative and communicative, a team player.

Change Ready: Innovative, creative and forward in the generation of new ideas and ways of working. Comfortable with change and changing tack to adapt to our ever changing world.

 

Having these skill sets under their belts in conjunction with their learning’s will see millennials, Gen Y’s and the like well in their search for employment. Displaying an attitude or outlook that is clearly ready to get stuck in, help out where needed, and putting a hand up for all opportunities offered will definitely all be viewed positively by employers. Having engaged, enthusiastic employees who are innovative and willing to learn is the ultimate goal for organisations.

Millennials / Gen Y – I’d love to hear your thoughts and questions….everyone else, what would you add to the list?

Personal Learning Networks 101 (#PLN)

What?

A #PLN is a group, real or virtual, of people with a common interest sharing ideas, findings, theorising, challenging and the like resulting in personal development. The #PLN you create around yourself will guide and steer your future personal development, and in turn you may contribute to the #PLN of others.

Why?

With the exponential growth in new technology, innovation, disruption in societies worldwide at the moment it doesn’t matter what industry you belong to or see yourself as a part of, the need to continually grow and develop has never been stronger. To keep ahead of the game, creating a #PLN will ensure you never stop learning.

Who?

Find the thought leaders in your chosen field of interest. Search them out, get opinions from others, follow their progress and validate who they are and what they stand for. Find those that align with your thinking, and are in line with the future direction you want to take.

Where?

Social Media is a near one stop shop. The obvious ones being twitter, facebook , google+ and LinkedIn. For more specialised areas of interest you may need to look a little further online, but there’s something for everyone.

Blogs are another great source of learning. Find people who’s thinking aligns with yours, then check out who’s liking and following their posts as there’s a high probability they’ll be like minded.

Looking further than social media and the comfort of your couch, MeetUps are a fantastic way to meet people in real life (#IRL) with similar interests to yourself. Head to www.meetup.com as a starting point.

How?

From a social media perspective, join groups, participate in conversations, follow hashtags. Get involved! And don’t be afraid to have a different viewpoint or question something as this often sparks debate, resulting in more learning for all. When you find someone you really connect with – check out who else they’re connected with as a great source of people to begin expanding your network.

In real life, be bold and be brave. Introduce yourself. Make the first move, not everyone is a natural networker, so most people will be grateful when you initiate the conversation, and remember you have a natural opener as you’re all there for your shared interest.

My #PLN

Next steps for me are to compile a snapshot of my #PLN centred around the People Professions…HR, People, Culture & Performance, Learning, Development , Recruitment and the like – so watch this space is that’s also up your alley!

The Essentials

Last week I attended a session on “Essential Employment Law” run by Nikki Peck from Elephant. First up, high five’s to Nikki for her facilitation style which ensured she had my attention for the entire day on a subject I admit doesn’t exactly float my boat, but is an essential component of my job.

Which is exactly why I was there. As an HR practitioner I prefer to focus my attentions on the likes of culture, engagement and employee development; but the reality is employment law comes into play in all aspects of HR. Over the years I’ve ensured that I’ve kept up to date with relevant law changes, as they’ve come up, but a whole day focusing on relevant acts and case law was time well spent in refreshing my knowledge. The benefits of which were threefold; networking, employee and self-development.

I met a group of HR peer’s I hadn’t previously engaged with, including one I’d been LinkedIn stalking only days before in relation to a potential new role for a friend! The value of networking and meeting peers in your industry but outside of your organisation is immense. The discussions, ideas, ways of working, suggestions and solutions that were bandied around on the day certainly left me thinking and provided me with new opportunities to research and implement in my own role and organisation.

I realised there are many roles with core skills, or knowledge needed in my organisation and that we either hire or train staff dependant on the situational need – but are we following up on that? Are we stretching them further and ensuring a constant development of their skills? A good example for me is product training; we thoroughly induct all staff into our culture, values, style of selling and product offerings, but our products and platforms change constantly. So I’ve resolved to ensure that in all cases we are adequately communicating and training staff on these changes, that there is a feedback loop for the changes and a clear go to person for any questions that may arise. While I’m at it I will be relooking at role tasks and PD’s to ensure that the essential competencies and tasks in our team roles are properly captured and that our staff are meeting the required standards.

And thirdly as HR folk are we focusing too much in any one aspect of our own roles? Are there areas you could use development in that maybe you haven’t focused on for some time that would in turn be complimentary to other facets of your role? In other words have you been focusing on your favourites and leaving the rest out? And if like me this is something of the case then research your options, as if you can find a situation like mine where the course material and facilitation made a subject that’s not my favourite fun and enjoyable then it’s a win win situation.

If we all get the essentials right in our roles and ensure we are continuously developing and progressing in these areas, they will in turn ensure all aspects of our role, skills and knowledge are heading down the right track.

Book Review: THE HUMAN WORKPLACE; People, Community, Technology. Amanda Sterling.

The culmination of a weekly tweet chat into a tangible resource for future learning is a credit to Amanda, her dedication and hard work in pulling it together  is exceptional and that’s not to mention the incredible breadth and depth of the international community she’s built up in the process. But back to the book. When Amanda first mentioned she was curating, compiling, writing and researching to pull together two years’ worth of the #NZLead chats into a book, I have to admit part of me thought she was mad (afterall she was originally planning to write as part of NaNoWriMo, which just seemed too huge), but another, larger part of me respected and admired her for it.

These tweet chats are real. They’re on-going, they get messy and way off track at times. There are some incredible lightbulb moments, a massive amount of learning, sharing of ideas and likeminded attitudes. But there are also challenges, at times debate and through all of this courtesy, camaraderie in many ways and a common desire to see a better world of work. Amanda has sewn all of this into her book. Using the real language of the tweet chats, and explaining the jargon, new concepts and the like in a manner that will ensure those inside and outside of people related roles will have no problem in following through the themes of the book. It’s as real as being in the conversation, yet structured in such a way as to lead the reader on a journey.

Overarching themes for me in the book are Culture, Collaboration, Leadership, Authenticity and Technology; all being at the essence of any “humane workplace”. And here are some quotes from the book that particularly resonated with me on these constructs:

“Leadership is not a one off event, a package or a methodology”

“Keeping people involves good old challenging, meaningful work, and a positive culture”

“Organisational Culture can become the most powerful piece in your recruitment arsenal”

“The kinds of organisations we need to create have to reflect the technology itself: open, collaborative, inclusive and connected”.

This book is a must read for anyone in the people professions; HR, OD, L&D, Recruitment and the like. In particular, those looking to develop and grow these roles into the future. You may be challenged, you may be nodding your head in agreement, you may encounter new ideas and concepts. And best of all if you’re not already involved you may feel encouraged to contribute to the #NZLead community now and into the future, for here is an on-going, evolving conversation for the better of future workplaces. And I use the term conversation loosely – as it’s my hope it’s more than that, not just a conversation but an action.

If there’s one takeaway I could possibly give you from the book and everything #NZLead has taught me it’s “Get Social”. For professional development, networking, conversations, collaboration, support, practices and learning, be brave, get out there – if you haven’t already you’ll be amazed at what’s waiting for you. If you’ve dipped in and skirted the edges, get involved; you won’t regret it. Search. Sort. Share.

To quote the book again “Information is no longer power: now it’s about networked intelligence” think on this for a moment in terms of my takeaway themes in the book: Culture, Collaboration, Authenticity, Leadership and Technology, then keeping these in mind, I leave you with this final thought “ The new workforce is a community, not a corporation”.

The Humane Workplace can be purchased here.

Performance Reviews as Coaching Conversations?

On the 11th of June I hosted a twitter chat for #NZLead, as part of a month long focus on performance. You can read the preview and background for that chat here. This post is a recap of that chat:

As discussed in the preview for this twitter chat I see value in giving feedback. And I see value in discussing progress, development and future career paths. So the proposition was implementing an on-going, regular coaching conversation between employees and managers encompassing feedback on performance, discussions on progress, clear expectations of the role requirements, future development plans and initiatives. No surprises, real time conversations that are simple, straightforward and achieved with far less blood, sweat and tears.

The general consensus was undoubtedly that the PDR process needs to change. Some had tried similar methods to suggested coaching conversations in the form of simplifying the process, retraining managers in implementation and others agreed coaching conversations worked well with a lot of staff, but it maybe wasn’t a one size fits all problem / solution. By equipping managers with the skills to conduct coaching conversations some had seen great success, though an education piece was needed for staff and management to get meaningful buy in. There was also the feeling that there are managers who prefer tick boxes and straightforward forms to the perceived ambiguity of the coaching conversation, but also that’s it’s the role of HR to change these situations and expectations.

A substantial communication and education (why and WIIFM) piece would be required in the roll out of any new process within an organisation to achieve success. A transition state or ‘baby steps’ approach to any significant change may make the adjustment more easily accepted by employees. And it’s a cliché, but true – role modelling from the top down, ensuring senior leaders in the organisation walk the walk and showcase the new framework with their direct reports.

Whilst no pitfalls of making this change were identified, it is acknowledged again that managers need the skillset to lead meaningful conversations, ask questions and provide honest, constructive feedback. There was also the recognition that if not done well the conversations would be about as useful as poorly executed PDR’s.

To remain relevant and grow with the changing world of work it seems inevitable that traditional PDR processes as we know them need to change. Laborious and cumbersome in today’s ever evolving VUCA world where the likes of agile methodology are becoming more and more prominent, they simply no longer fit in a modern and developing workplace. Coaching conversations seem like a good alternative moving forward, provided the proper ground work is done with both employees and management alike to equip them for the transformation. Once achieved the potential for coaching to provide framework for more meaningful work conversations in relation to providing constructive feedback to employees and a forum for on-going development is immense.

If you’re interested in joining in on the #NZLead chats you can do so using the twitter hashtag on Thursday’s at 7pm NZ, 8am UK, 5pm Melbourne Sydney. Or you can check out more about what #NZLead is all about on the website.