If you’ve seen some of the recent research about what motivates the best people, you would know it’s about more than just money. This is especially true now that Generation Z – the youngest cohort of employees – is now entering the workforce in significant numbers. And they are not just “younger Gen Ys” – they have their own preferences.
For example, more than 90% of Gen Z’s want a human element to their teams (according to Ernst & Young). They want in-person, face-to-face contact with their managers and regular ongoing feedback. On the other hand, they also want work with meaning, flexible working conditions, and the chance to create something world-changing.
So how do you manage all these competing needs?
Here’s how …
Give them autonomy, but build their judgement.
Consider one important difference between a typical large organisation and a small business.
A large organisation offers a more stable work life than a small business. There’s a buffer between teams and the outside world, so people work in a stable, predictable environment, with less stress and more confidence they can cope with the work. Even when external pressures occur, the organisation can absorb, delay or counter them so they don’t affect normal operations.
This stability can be good, but it also makes you less flexible and resilient. Remember the little girl with the curl in the middle of her forehead?
“When she was good, she was very, very good; when she was bad, she was horrid”
That’s the price you pay for this stability.
People react badly when big things happen. Actions take longer, everybody’s protecting their turf, and the public microscope means even small decisions get scrutinised in detail. Most of all, most people are simply caught unaware when their boat hits the iceberg.
Small businesses are different
Small businesses deal with big changes regularly. Because they are more exposed, these workplaces can be uncertain, frenetic and frightening. However, they can also be dynamic, exciting and inspiring.
As an internal leader in a larger organisation, you can give your team the best of both worlds, by showing them the excitement of a dynamic work life while still enjoying the relative security of a stable workplace.
This is more than just “empowering” your team members by giving them more responsibility. Empowerment is good, but you can go further.
The stereotype of the office worker is Scott Adams’ cartoon character Dilbert, stuck in a tiny cubicle and micro-managed by his pointy-haired boss. Dilbert can be more empowered to have more control over his job, but we can do better.
Build their judgement
Metaphorically, you can do this in three ways:
- Break down the walls: Give them more exposure to help them understand how their role fits with the rest of the team, organisation, and the outside world.
- Raise the roof: Give them the perspective of higher roles, so they can see the bigger picture beyond their regular work.
- Open the door: Let them demonstrate their talent – to speak up and be heard, inside and outside the organisation.
Their work is more meaningful, they are more motivated, and they can suggest ways to improve the organisation. If you work in a large organisation, you also help them avoid a false sense of security. They see beyond time sheets and spreadsheets, hear from real customers and clients, and get a better “feel” for the industry in general.
Of course, this helps you as a leader as well. By building their judgement, you give them the opportunity to take on more responsibility, and you can trust them to do the right thing.
Building a Culture of Change Agents – Find Out More
The best people have a choice of places to work. Why will they choose you?