I recently had a conversation with a client which generated a leadership AHA! about how accountability and resilience are connected. In this situation, a millennial was involved. He had been working for a year with this organization, and his manager had had 18 conversations about performance issues with this person. Several of these challenges created liability issues for the organization, customer service failures, and employee morale issues for the people they work with and serve. The situation became more complicated because this person was friends with the owner of the company. Lots of challenges here!
What Do Millennials Want?
Millennials. There have been lots of conversations, complaints, discussions and challenges stated about Millennials in the workplace. Simon Sinek states in his famous You Tube, “BEST SPEECH EVER – Simon Sinek on Millennials in the Workplace”, with more than 2.5 million views:
“Millennials, born approximately 1984 and after, are tough to manage and accused of being entitled, and narcissistic, self-interested, unfocused, lazy. But entitled is a big one. Because they have confounded leaders so much, they have asked of Millennials, ‘what do you want?’ Millennials are saying, ‘We want to work in a place with a purpose. We want to make an impact. We want free food and bean bags!’ And yet for some reason, they are still not happy. There is a missing piece. What I have learned, I can break it down to 4 characteristics: Parenting, Technology, Impatience, Environment.”
Here is the link to listen to Simon Sinek’s You Tube; it is awesome!
What Challenges Do Millennials Face?
Millennials are challenged with accountability and resilience because many of them have not been held accountable or developed the skill of resilience because of a parenting style and/or our society. This has become a complicated challenge that is impacting our workplace on many levels. I want to confirm that not all Millennials have these challenges. There are many who are high-functioning, responsible, humble, and giving human beings. That goes back to the four characteristics Simon mentioned on his You Tube: Parenting, Technology, Impatience, Environment. You can see by this list how parenting and society play a role in their way of being and expectations in life.
So now what? We have a high percentage of Millennials, the second largest generation ever, 70 million strong (Baby Boomers first largest) flooding the workplace. Many, not all, have high — sometimes unrealistic — expectations of themselves and their employers. They do not know how to take and accept constructive feedback on their work ethic. And when some are held accountable for their actions, the are clueless and in denial — they emotionally crumble (no resilience) when faced with accountability because it is so foreign to them.
The Fix: Create a Total Culture of Accountability
What to do? “Stay calm and carry on!” What, you say? That simple? Yup – that simple! Here are the steps:
- When you hire a new staff member, not just a Millennial, set clear expectations about their responsibilities. Include a Job Description (their tasks) and their Role Description (what they personally bring to their job, their gifts, passion, importance of their position, etc.).
- Create a hiring process that allows you to truly get to know this person. Do they have the needed skillset? Will they be a match for our culture?
- Check out Topgrading, by Brad Smart – excellent hiring process and tools. Click here for link.
- Continue to have Accountability conversations with confidence, calm, honesty, and respect. Crucial Conversations, by Patterson, Grenny, McMillan & Switzler, is an outstanding book on how to have these conversations successfully. Click here for link.
- When you observe behaviors you don’t want, address them immediately, in private, with respect. Be very clear about the behaviors you want to see and expect. Always talk about behaviors; do not personally attack the person.
- Follow up with feedback about what is working and not working. Coach them, mentor them, give them the tools to succeed.
- Create a culture of accountability by communicating clearly the Vision, Mission, and Values of your organization consistently! The leader of the organization is responsible for being the Chief Reminding Officer of these important foundational pieces of the organization.
What is Resilience?
- Ability to bounce back
- Ability to adapt to hardships and setbacks in life
Developing resilience is a personal journey. People do not all react the same to traumatic and stressful life events. An approach to building resilience that works for one person might not work for another. People use varying strategies.
5 Strategies to Developing Resilience: A Skill Set You CAN Develop!
- Avoid seeing crises as insurmountable problems: You can’t change the fact that highly stressful events happen, but you can change how you interpret and respond to these events.
- Look for opportunities for self-discovery: People often learn something about themselves and may find that they have grown in some respect, as a result of their struggle with loss.
- Stay Flexible: Resilience involves maintaining flexibility and balance in your life as you deal with stressful circumstances and traumatic events.
- Don’t let your situation define you: Heartaches, hurdles and hardships can shape us, but they don’t have to define us. When life deals us particularly tough blows, we can choose to be even more vigilant about not succumbing to a “victim” mentality that can render us powerless to shape our future.
- Focus on what’s within your control: It’s vital not to waste your energy complaining about what you can’t do, don’t want or don’t have. Instead, make the most of what you can do with the resources you do have.
How Accountability Affects Resilience
When we hold someone accountable for their behaviors and communicate the expectations, a resiliency issue may show up. The strategies listed above can help you communicate how each situation in life can be a learning and growth opportunity they will learn from and survive. Each time we survive an accountability conversation or experience an uncomfortable situation, we learn that we can handle these situations and continue forward in life, thus developing resiliency and becoming more accountable as we listen and learn from our experiences. When a strong wind blows your way….do you bend or break? It’s a choice!
Leadership Challenge: How are you holding yourself and others accountable? How are you developing resiliency in yourself and others?