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Archive for Networking – Page 2

Gaming Feedback and Recognition

Photo Credit:  Joe Haupt, FlickrI’ve just spent a terrific day at the WorkHuman Conference in Orlando.  WorkHuman focuses on identifying the building blocks needed to create “humanity-focused workplace cultures”.

I like this concept.  I write a lot about the grind of HR and feel refreshed after being around people who want to make sure we have programs and practices that matter rather than firefighting.  After listening to several sessions already, there are so many ideas in my head so I thought it would be good time to stop, digest, reflect. . .and blog.

What I appreciate about the forum here is that the hosts of WorkHuman, Globoforce, seem to welcome a participant perspective on human motivation and psychology. And it is clear that the no one here is viewing the future as a set of cookie-cutter approaches to effective workplaces.

One thing I’ve noticed is that crowdsourced performance reviews and recognition systems are hot topics.  They solve a whole host of problems with traditional reviews including manager centricity, inaccuracy and inefficiency.  The capabilities they offer are so much better than traditional one-way manager reviews or traditional paper thank you’s.

I was left wondering though if we have contemplated all the challenges of a human-centric approach.  Even happy people have less than noble tendencies.

As an illustration. . .

I’m totally a believer in the power of social networking.  I’m heavily invested.  It has proven to be a positively life changing experience.  I’m surprised though by how many people know of me as a result of my social networking activities.  Truth be told, I’m just an HR person and very much of ordinary folk.  But I get a lot of recognition.  I wonder how that phenomenon of ordinary recognition will impact those who participate in platforms like Globoforce and end up doing well specifically because they are good connectors.  And is this is terrible?

We live in a world of gamers.  In the context of recognition, it seems a natural human tendency to “game the system” because we achieve the award by increasing our social currency (perhaps by actively increasing their LinkedIn contacts).  Does the efficacy of crowdsourced reviews wane as the gamers get better at gaming? Or the opposite?  I’m not sure.

This idea of gaming the system is interesting to me.  Back in the 1970s there were adorable hand-held football games which essentially had a 3-play formula built in.  Once you knew how to run the right patterns, you won every time. This is a lot more difficult today in a multi-dimensional context, but we humans are naturally inclined to figure out the shortcuts.

The benefit of the analytics will be that with the quantity of data being generated we can really see the link between social currency and recognition.  It also seems clear that we are in for many evolutions of recognition ahead, learning much from each iteration. This is exciting.

Having a platform for recognition is not a fad.  And WorkHuman will be there to help us along the journey.

Mentorship and the So-Called “Entitled Generation”

By Mark Tighe, Flickr

Photo Credit:  Mark Tighe, Flickr

Friends, family, people of the internet…we need to talk. I have a difficult message for some of you, but it’s something that I think you need to hear. I know you think you’re helping, or at least not hurting anyone, but I disagree and I am officially putting my foot down. I cannot and will not listen to you whine about millennials anymore. That’s it. I proclaim the air, land, and water in my immediate vicinity to be a ‘no millennial bashing’ zone, and any violators will be dealt with harshly from here on out.

I’m sorry it’s come to this. Really, I am. But you left me no choice. 2016 has been a particularly rough year in millennial-bashing so far. A small sample of the things I have heard or read from various sources among you in the last month:

“If you hire a 20-something good luck, they don’t know how to work.”

“…a New York Times food column on cereal reported that 40 percent of millennials said cereal is an inconvenient food because it requires cleanup after eating.”

“The work-ethic decline is real,” said Jean Twenge, the author of  “Generation Me: Why Today’s Young Americans Are More Confident, Assertive, Entitled — and More Miserable Than Ever Before”

“Entitled, that’s what I think they are.”

“…(former) Yelp employee Talia Jane Ben-Ora became momentarily famous as the poster-child for all things wrong with the entitlement mindset of young adults in today’s America.”

First I should say that I don’t believe that these generalizations are very accurate or useful, but let’s put that aside to address the larger issue since they’re widely perceived to be true, which is what led me to this breaking point.  The last straw was that I decided a few weeks ago to start challenging some of the people who casually toss around these assertions as though they are fact. Since virtually all of these viewpoints seem to be grounded in a feeling that millennials are not like ‘us’, and somehow ought to know how to do or be something different, instead of arguing about their validity I asked people if they would consider mentoring a person to help them develop the viewpoint, skills, or qualities that the speaker seemed to feel they were lacking.

People did not particularly enjoy this line of questioning.

A condensed synopsis of the responses I heard:

  • “They are not interested in being mentored”
  • “I wouldn’t even know where to get started”
  • “I don’t have time for that”
  • “They already think they know everything”
  • “I’m too busy”
  • “Why should I; they should figure it out on their own like I did”

Does reading that make you as sad as it does me? Do we not all have a child, sibling, niece, nephew, neighbour, or friend that falls into this big, faceless group we apply the ‘millennials’ label to who isn’t anything like the lazy, entitled millennial stereotype? Maybe it’s your 20-something cousin Timmy who works weekends while at university. Maybe it’s that new girl in Accounting who seems really engaged, or your own child who is working on establishing a solid career path. Think about that person. Does it seem fair that their interviewers, boss, or colleagues might assume that they probably don’t know how to work hard, but whatever…it’s not like it’s their job to provide them with advice about how to manage these perceptions and navigate their organization’s culture.

I’m guessing you wouldn’t want that for your cousin, friend, or child…I’m guessing that you would hope that their co-workers and managers would give them the benefit of the doubt and maybe even give them some advice or guidance. I’m guessing that you see where I’m going with this.

I’m not saying that there aren’t ‘entitled millennials’ in our workplaces; maybe there are some. I’m saying that assuming everyone in this age group is a hopeless lay-about is both inaccurate and (irony alert!) lazy! Of course we can complain that people younger than us seem not to understand the ways of work (probably based on a few anecdotal examples), but even if it were true complaining about it doesn’t change anything. Alternatively, we could take a crack at understanding what’s driving the behaviour that we’re interpreting as lazy/entitled/’fill-in-stereotype here’, and if warranted offer some mentorship, guidance, or advice based on our own experience. Maybe we’ll get shut down…but maybe we won’t.

Don’t have time for that? Sorry, but if you have time to complain (and it really seems like a lot of people do) then you almost certainly have time to mentor. I’m not suggesting that we spend hours daily formally training someone. I’m talking about being receptive to opportunities to share what you know with those who might benefit. Whether at work, at home (I sure hope that you’re giving cousin Timmy some good advice), or through some of the programs or platforms available in your city, industry, or profession.

Still think it sounds like too much time, effort, and risk? The genius micro-mentorship platform Ten Thousand Coffees allows you to create a profile and screen one-hour coffee meeting requests from less experienced members interested in meeting for coffee and learning from you. One hour, people!!!

If you are a person who feels that some of the stereotypes I’ve mentioned are true, I’d like to challenge you to try on a different lens when observing others in the workplace; a lens that assumes most people are doing the best they can with what they know; a lens that doesn’t iook for proof of the entitlement narrative in your interactions with others.

Instead of writing off an entire generation, perhaps you might consider viewing challenging interactions as an opportunity to influence our organizations’ next generation of professionals and leaders. I think that with a little fieldwork you’ll find, as I have, that ‘millennials’ are an enormously diverse group who defy the labels and stereotypes applied to them (as any gigantic demographic cohort does). And contrary to some perceptions, many of them are open to and eager for mentorship, as long as it’s offered in the right spirit.

Ultimately, we have a choice – do our part to work better, together…or continue to complain that a vast swath of our colleagues, neighbours, and fellow citizens should be different from we assume they are, while refusing to question those assumptions or do anything about it. If you elect to pursue the latter option, I’m very sorry, but I do not want to hear about it.

Postscript: I wanted to take another few sentences to reiterate my plug for Ten Thousand Coffees, which I’ve found to be such a great platform to meet engaged, eager professionals who are looking to receive or exchange advice and knowledge. If you want to know more, please check out their website and consider creating a profile.

Jane Watson is a senior HR practitioner in downtown Toronto. She is seriously committed to mentorship, having served as Chair of the HRPA Toronto Chapter’s Mentorship program, a repeat mentor at ACCES Employment’s speed mentoring events, and an enthusiastic Ten Thousand Coffees member. She also blogs about HR, work, and organizations (less frequently than she should) at Talent Vanguard.


Re-thinking Mentoring

I believe in the value of mentoring. I have been both a mentee and a mentor in formal and informal programs. I have been part of the HRPA York Region Mentoring Committee for a few years, assisting in the development and execution of programs for our members and new graduates of partnering post-secondary schools. There…now you know where I stand.

However, before you anticipate this to be the typical “feel-good” post about mentoring, I’ll warn you that it isn’t. As I mentioned, I believe in the concept, but I also believe that most things need to be re-engineered or at least revisited when the environment around is changing. The concept of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” never really sits well with me. Status quo never, ever leads to innovation and creativity.

Recently, at an event for which I was a co-organizer, there were two speakers that made me stop and think about how we view, or execute mentoring. Both were equally impactful, and I encourage you to watch the two 5 minute videos and form your own opinion.

The first speaker is Tania DeSa. Her topic: Mentors Are Overrated. She speaks about “sponsorship” versus “mentorship”, where sponsors truly advocate for the person. She speaks about commitment and accountability. Watch this…

Mentors Are Overrated | Tania DeSa  | DisruptHR Talks from DisruptHR on Vimeo.

Dave Wilkin of Ten Thousand Coffees challenges us to think about Un-Mentoring, where everyone is a teacher and everyone is a student. We need to stop thinking about mentorship as “finding your Yoda who gives you advice every step of the way.” To me, that makes complete sense. If you had to choose whether to be a mentor or a mentee, I’m sure you’d have a difficult time choosing…because most of us want to be both. Having access to a diverse group of people to align all of our conversations is a great way to re-think mentoring. Watch what Dave has to say…

Learn How To Un-Mentor | Dave Wilkin | DisruptHR Talks from DisruptHR on Vimeo.

If you participate in mentoring programs, either formal or informal, in your workplace or associations, I challenge you to think about the needs and outcomes. What is it that you really want to achieve or gain from this endeavour. Is the relationship providing you with what you really want or need. I’m not suggesting that we do away with the title of Mentoring, but rather think how it can evolve to align more closely with the ever-changing world of work around us.