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The 21st Century has opened so many doors in the Human Resource world with advancements in technology, changes to the global workforce, generational differences, leader and team development, performance management and so much more. There opportunities we now have to provide our employees with support systems are infinite. Leaders of the world today have many challenges and opportunities before them, it is the choices we make that make us better leaders through the challenge.
One of the most common management challenges today is how to effectively manage so many different kinds of people. The generational differences in the workplace, have far outweighed the cultural differences which used to be the leading challenge. When Forbes Magazine asked CFO’s: “In which one of the following areas do you see the greatest differences among your company’s employees who are from different generations?” (Lipman, 2018) The response they received was this:
- 30% communication skills
- 26% adapting to change
- 23% technical skills
- 14% cross-departmental collaboration
- 7% no differences
Communication skills are very important, and millennials today prefer a more collaborative or in-person means of interaction. They respond & react better to this management coaching style, rather than a top-down authoritative approach. The same is true when adapting to changes with millennials, they adapt faster when they are well informed and feel the manager is honest and upfront. Millennials are also more inclined to prefer training in a technology-centric manner, rather than instructor-led (Lipman, 2018). Technology style training to the millennials is very normal, and they retain the information well.
When training is needed, management needs to take into consideration the people being taught, and what they can do to teach in the most effective way, ensuring employees will retain the information. Managing people is an individual job. It takes the right effective managers to naturally understand this. The most important part of the organization is the people, regardless of generation, gender, ethnicity, it is how well we understand our employees as individuals, what motivates them, what hopes, dreams, fears, drives them, their attitude and engagement (Lipman, 2018). When management understands this, the day-to-day productivity will follow suit.
Millennials were raised very differently than the Baby Boomers, Traditionalists and Generation X. They were raised in an era when most often they had two working parents, and everything was a controlled environment. As children, they would have “refrigerator lists” where even their free time was controlled (Lipman, 2018). While parents were gone to work, children were home completing everything on the list, so they could go outside and play. This created more of a worker bee generation, who could multi-task with work was a means to an end. Millennials are not the lazy worker they are often tagged with, but rather driven, goal-oriented and are motivated to complete tasks. They just want to finish the job, so they can go out an enjoy life. Their minds work faster, they need more to do, they need to be challenged daily.
Cascio stated the importance of different generations as this: “There are two main things that everyone can agree on regardless of their generation. First, all generations have similar values — they just express it differently and second, everyone wants respect — they just want respect for different things” (Heersink, 2012). Cascio said the most important element we can use as managers is to remember generation intelligence, which is less about age, and more about adaptability to different people (Heersink, 2012).
This concept is important to me and my organizations because I feel we must recognize the workforce has changed. Often we find four generations working side-by-side. The oldest generation has strong dedication, and economic conditions in the past decade are making this generation continue to work. Those who felt they would be retired now, or may have tried to retire, are finding themselves staying or returning to work. With all the different generations working together there are bound to be differences, and working with them to overcome these differences is what a great management leader can accomplish. I feel the organization needs to encounter each individual as just that, an individual, with different needs.
Procedural Justice and Ethics in Employee Relations
Fairness when resolving disputes is very important in Human Resources. There are four principles of procedural justice: being fair in processes, being transparent in actions, providing opportunities for them to voice, and being impartial in decision making. Employees deserve to have incidents investigated in a fair, honest manner, they can believe in and they feel they can be confident in the final outcome. Fair and consistent actions need to be in place regardless of who is involved, hence the creation of procedural justice (Cascio, 2016). The Human Resources Manager must create policies and procedures to be followed which indicate the steps taken in the investigation, and how concerns will be dealt with in respect to the individual and the organization (Cascio, 2016).
In a recent study by John Thibaut and Laurens Walker, about the importance employees place on procedural justice, it was found people are willing to give up decision control if they are allowed to voice their opinions about the process to negotiate a decision (Colquitt, Conlon, Wesson, Porter, & Ng, 2001). Employees saw the procedures to be fair when they were correctable, ethical, unbiased, based on accurate information, consistent, and they considered the stakeholders’ opinions (Colquitt, Conlon, Wesson, Porter, & Ng, 2001). People care about this because they also feel fair procedures lead to fair and favorable outcomes which also leaves people feeling valued by the organization.
Employee relations are affected by procedural justice in many ways related to the overall engagement of the team. Attitudes and behaviors, job satisfaction, self-esteem, trust, and organizational support can be impacted negatively or positively based on how the employees feel the outcome of the procedural justice will be handled. Organizations should be focused on how fair the procedures are, and what implications it will have on furthering career development (Colquitt, Conlon, Wesson, Porter, & Ng, 2001).
My organization recognizes the importance in fairness and procedural justice as we deal with over 150 employees every day who interact with over 1300 customers per day. There are bound to be issues and often we are working with a customer who will be spending $100,000’s of dollars. There have been mistakes made on these orders in the past, and we work hard to fairly take care of the customer while also addressing the issue with the employee who was involved and made the mistake. I drive the processes by allowing the employee the opportunity to tell their side of the story, come to the root cause of the situation and provide an effective, positive outcome as a resolution. There are times, however, that a positive outcome cannot be the end result for the employee who has repeatedly made the same mistakes and has failed to correct this behavior. In this instance, they may be asked to move to a new role, or they may possibly be terminated.
Leader and Team Development
Team leaders are the foundation of every organization. Leading can be challenging and rewarding in both a professional and personal way. Organizations need to build the team comradery and establish trust among them by using the skills of great leaders. Too often in the world today, we are focused on educating and developing our teams with the use of technology-based programs. This type of teaching and learning can potentially reduce the opportunities for social bonding, and make it more difficult to build trust among team members and leaders alike (Cascio, 2016). The leaders have to create a culture which uses the following strategies as a focus:
- Engage team with the excitement of a shared vision: find an idea that all members can recognize the importance of and how it is a challenge which will inspire them. Does it fit into the organization success? How can leaders engage the team so they are committed to participating and complete the work?
- Work on one-on-one relationships and team processes. Are all members engaged? If some are less engaged, find out why and what inspires them. Get to know employees, understand concerns, motivations and spend time with each of them individually. Face conflicts as they emerge and determine the fastest resolution.
- Leveraging new technologies: provide employees the time to become comfortable with the new technology. Is there a budget for in-person meetings and how often can they take place? If the company is spread out throughout the world, is the infrastructure of IT able to support the needs of everyone effectively?
- Is team success celebrated: are expectations set up clearly to ensure the team can succeed? Building a rewards program to recognize employees for their hard work, dedication and success exhibits support and builds positive morale in the team. Ensure the rewards are worth it for everyone who wants to be part of the team
Building the level of commitment the team has while also motivating them to continue reaching for the desired end result, can be very challenging for leaders. Inviting others to participate in the project will drive business result and creativity. By contributing to team success and achieving business results, employees can actively participate in the achievement of earning bonuses.
Understanding development needs in your employees can be difficult. Knowing how to determine their strengths and weaknesses is a common challenge in many organizations. Improving peoples performance is difficult for employers who have failed to build a culture with proper performance management systems that are used regularly. Gathering information about your employees, their career desires, and how management can help them be successful, also helps them feel positive about themselves and their development (Cascio, 2016).
Providing employees with better communication by coaching them through issues, makes employees build self-confidence which leads to more relaxed conversations with leaders. Having coaching conversations with employees will help leaders identify issues and effectively help employees achieve their goals while also improving performance. When employees find purpose in their work, they will focus on solutions to problems on their own, while also receiving feedback as routine, and implementing that feedback as part of personal improvement.
Succession planning helps leaders recognize vital skills and knowledge of individuals on the team. Great leaders will use succession planning to ensure employees pass on their skills, knowledge, and experience with others. Cross-training employees to support each other provides the organization with flexibility in the team so anyone can help another in the time of need or extra support.
This concept is largely important to any organization. In my organization, we work hard to support all employees through personal growth and development as well as career growth and development. With so many millennials in the working world and gigantic economic growth development in the job market, I think you have to have both personal and career growth in order to be truly successful. Teaching the leaders to support the younger generation is not always the easiest task, everyone learns at their own pace, in their own way and learning to teach others in a variety of fashions not only supports the employee but also supports business success. It is very important for leaders to identify what skills need to be developed, how to train them properly, who will train them, and how to measure understanding and skills development.
Overall the HRCU-600 course has taught me about the importance of Human Resources in the workplace. The laws and regulations, procedures and enforces, engagement builders and team drivers that Human Resources Managers can be. The “Humans” in every business are the most important element, and taking care of them first and foremost is key to building a successful business.
- Cascio, W. (2016). Bookshelf Online. Retrieved from https://shelf.brytewave.com/#/books/9781259300523/cfi/123!/4/[email protected]:4.20
- Colquitt, J. A., Conlon, D. E., Wesson, M. J., Porter, C. O., & Ng, K. Y. (2001). Justice at the millennium: A meta-analytic review of 25 years of organizational justice research. Journal of Applied Psychology, 86(3), 425-445. doi:10.1037/0021-9010.86.3.425
- Heersink, A. (2012). Cascio discusses generations at work | Newsroom | University of Colorado Denver. Retrieved from http://www.ucdenver.edu/about/old_newsroom/newsreleases/Pages/generations-at-work.aspx
- Lipman, V. (2018, March 5). How To Manage Generational Differences In The Workplace. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/victorlipman/2017/01/25/how-to-manage-generational-differences-in-the-workplace/#1b0bb9e94cc4
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