This was my late 2012/early 2013 embarrassing HR conference jam, btw.
You know what else people talked about? How to manage Millenials in the ever-changing workforce.
I like to pay attention to what’s said about Millennials because I have actually managed three generations in the workforce: Baby Boomers, Generation Jones and Generation Y. Not many of my peers can say this. And I know that what has been said about Generation Y (born 1982-2004) has been said about every white-collar worker since 1948, including me.
- They are coddled.
- Their diversity should be embraced.
- They want flexibility.
- They value benefits over salary.
- They want to be liked and accepted in a group environment.
While it’s true that a kid born in 1996 will never use a fax machine unless they are communicating with Sallie Mae about deferring their student loan repayments, I am not sure a new generation in the workforce changes the game of how you manage people.
It’s not like we manage people well in the first place, yo.
My favorite “Gen Y” writer thinks that much of this talk is garbage, too.
Replace the phrase “Gen Y” with any other protected class and you realize how ridiculous this is as a “best practice” for HR. #SHRMATL13
— Matt Charney (@mattcharney) April 30, 2013
I love it. Let’s try it.
- Puerto Ricans demand flexibility in the workforce.
- When you think black people people, think social and mobile.
- Asians: Confident. Connected. Open to Change.
- Muslims do not use Twitter in large numbers, but college-aged girls with disabilities show the greatest enthusiasm for the application.
- Native Americans want to work in a loose, collaborative environment without a ton of structure.
- The Irish want unlimited PTO.
[Wait, of course the Irish want unlimited PTO.]
Just because you have demographic data doesn’t mean the data is applicable, relevant or even appropriately interpreted by a bunch of Human Resources ladies at a conference. And just because people have evolving preferences and communication styles doesn’t mean that the concept of management changes all that much.
Manage for performance by setting clear goals and demonstrating empathy for your employees. Motivate your workers with a better with a mix of incentives — including a crazy concept called equal pay for equal work.
Right there? You’re ahead of the game.
Everything else you hear about managing Gen Y is sketchy mix of armchair philosophy and pop psychology.
This blog is penance for my shoddy career in HR, and your pain and sadness cause sympathetic aches in my heart.
I looked for comfort on the internet. I found a quote from Saint Ignatius:
The safest and most suitable form of penance seems to be that which causes pain in the flesh but does not penetrate to the bones, that is, which causes suffering but not sickness.
That is exactly how I feel when I read your messages about work. I get it. Work is killing you. And it kills me when it kills you. I am really sorry.
But I still believe that a job is just a job. And I want you to take comfort in something I heard on NPR. I listened to a story called You Can’t See It, But You’ll Be A Different Person In 10 Years.
- Humans can’t predict their own futures.
- You can’t see yourself evolve past the place you are now.
- And you don’t have a clue about your future.
This story gave me hope about life, work and relationships.
Just because something feels broken doesn’t mean that it is really broken. Just because life is depressing doesn’t mean that it will be depressing forever.
- You took a shitty job to feed your family? Good for you. That job won’t last forever.
- Your evil nemesis at work is driving you nuts? That person might become your best friend.
- Does your career feel over? Are the best days behind you? It might just be beginning.
You have no idea.
I’m not an advice columnist, but if I were, I would tell you that you have no idea how your life will unfold. You may be 100% happier in a few years. You might have more friends and a more fulfilling career. You might meet someone new at work who will change your life.
You just can’t see it.
Before you write a letter about your evil coworker or your crummy boss, remember that the stakes have never been so low. That colleague you hate? You probably won’t remember that person’s name in a decade. That project that is sucking the life out of you? It doesn’t have to matter. In fact, it probably won’t.
In another ten years, you will probably have a whole different life with a whole different set of problems — good and bad.
I would start getting ready for the next decade of your life.
I try not to cut and paste letters but I received this note from a job seeker who also works in HR. I have her permission.
I am going to graduate in August with my masters in HR. I graduated undergrad in May 2012, which means I got zero experience and that’s fine I wanted to get school out of the way. Now I am applying to different entry-level HR positions and hitting the “no experience/w degree” roadblock. Which sucks. I’m networking with my SHRM chapter, asking my classmates to be on the lookout for me and building a solid online personal brand.
Sometimes I can’t help but feel discouraged. All I need is someone to give me a chance. I certainly ain’t doing this for the money, or even for my mom, she wanted me to be a doctor. And so what should I tell myself before I head into/out the interview? I usually blast on some rap music with explicit language to calm my nerves beforehand.
The world is a cold, sad place.
I believe in college, but had you listened to your mom — or me from the SHRM Annual Student Conference in 2010 and 2011 — you wouldn’t have pursued a masters in Human Resources. You would have pursued your MBA. Or you would have spent $25,000 living in Europe. You could have returned home to the same employment challenges you face now.
But you didn’t ask me about that. You asked me how to psych yourself up for an interview.
The real answer is that you are nervous because you are fully aware of the challenges you face in the job search. You know you have no experience. You know you don’t know how to do HR. You know exactly how you are going to fail at the job before you start.
So you have two options.
- Continue to worry about your weaknesses.
- Know thyself and chill the F out.
I like option number 2.
Experience is overrated when it comes to jobs in HR. No two companies manage performance the same way. No two companies recruit the same way. Much of the training for HR happens on the job — even for middle managers.
So if you got the interview, you are halfway there. All you have to do is hold your head up high and be likable. Don’t say anything stupid. Smile. Be humble. Embrace your flaws. You were picked out of 500 other resumes for a reason. Don’t be nervous. Be proud. It really is an honor to be nominated.
And if you are lucky enough to find a good HR job, I want you to do is remember how this entire experience feels. Remember being humbled. Remember your nerves. Now imagine the stakes are higher. Imagine being someone who needs to pay a mortgage or feed a family.
How has this experience changed you? What have you learned from your job search? How can you improve the process?
I think that if you can demonstrate empathy towards job seekers during your career, you will make a great HR leader.