We’ve compiled insights from several Gen Ys and this is what they wish they had the guts to tell you.
Dear Workplace Leader,
You’ve probably been me before.You’ve been the new intern or junior in a company, fresh-eyed and eager to learn from your leaders, only to be disappointed. You’ve probably had someone at a management level step into your workplace promising to “turn things around.” You’ve probably been a witness to nothing ever changing.
You’ve surely seen things from my perspective and said to yourself, “When I get to that position, when I become a leader, things will be different.”
So, what happened?
Let’s be clear that this isn’t a letter made or meant to bash leaders. It is however, an honest cry for you, the person in power, to know that there is so much more you can do. We look up to you, and if you win us over, you’ll have a team of people who’d look out for you too.
Here’s what I wish you had more of:
1. Balls to do what you say
Anyone can talk a big game. We’ve all seen it. An inspiring speech at the beginning of the financial year and then, nothing happens. You’re beginning to sound like a politician, and nobody, not even you would trust one.
So, inspire us, yes, tell us about the changes you’re going to make, sure. Then, please have the guts to follow through.
2. The heart to say something meaningful
Stop dressing things up. Stop using industry terms or jargon or tired old quotes. I can’t recall the number of times I’ve been dragged into a company meeting where a tonne of words are spewed at us. If you were to ask me what I got out of it, I’d probably say, “Oh, the snacks at the end of all that boring talk.”
Here are some ideas:
- Make it relatable – Numbers on a slide are not going to cut it. What it means and how it affects us is more impactful.
- Tell us what the issue, celebration or point of the meeting is. Tell us what it means to you as a person and a leader. We relate better to a person not a business.
- Think about how you’d feel if someone spoke to you the way you spoke to us. How could they have made it more meaningful to you?
- Say it from your heart, if the industry hasn’t beaten it out of you. No need to be mushy if that’s not who you are but be honest.
If you’re not saying something that means something to us, no one is going to care. And when people stop caring, you’re in trouble.
3. A genuine interest in listening to us
So, how do you get your people to care? By first being a leader that does. Listen to us, and I mean, really, really listen, even to the things your people are not saying. How are they responding? How have their moods been? What’s upsetting them? What makes them happy? Have a genuine one-on-one from time to time, find out what’s going on and try to empathise so we can do the same for you.
4. The ability to be human
We’re not robots that are part of a workforce, designed to come in, sit at our desks and work away. We’re human and so are you. So stop acting like you’ve got it all together. Stop being so unapproachable, put down your armour. We are not your enemy, we are your ally.
I say the ‘ability’ to be human because I know it is difficult, especially in the workplace where we’re all supposed to be some form of our best guarded and most professional selves. But it’s okay to admit you’re afraid, sometimes unsure and that you need help, because surprise, surprise, that’s how we feel too.
When a leader lets us know they are human too, made of the same fears and failures, it’s not demeaning, it’s encouraging. It lets me know you are a real person and that’s all we want, really. To know that we can relate to you and help one another.
Imagine a workplace where people felt like they could really count on you and you, on them.
Let’s take a step towards creating that utopia. Let’s work together and not against each other. Because I believe in a workplace where I can one day bring this feedback to the table and not be afraid about putting my role in jeopardy.
All I want is a better example of who I can possibly be when I become someone like you, someday.
Your Human Worker