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Why what you read about Millennials seems contradictory

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Here’s an excerpt from my latest column in the Huffington Post:

In the movies of my youth, the good guys wore white hats and the bad guys wore black hats. One thing you knew, the good guys and the bad guys were not going to work together. They weren’t human beings; they were good guys and bad guys.

So much of what I read and hear about the Millennials puts them into the white hat or black hat categories. Researchers have called them entitled, self-absorbed, naïve, and unprepared, or creative, optimistic, caring, open-minded, and productive.

Many authors and speakers describe Millennials as a remarkable, almost heroic generation that will solve our problems through teamwork and technology. These experts imply that if the old guys running our hierarchical, innovation-quashing organizations would get out of their way, the Millennials would amaze us. Some bestselling books on Millennials are so optimistic that readers wondered in online reviews if the writers had actually met a millennial. Other reviewers reckoned the author must be in love with his grandkids and believe they could do no wrong.

We wonder if the experts are talking about the same generation when we read other books worried about the Millennials. For example, a good friend, Nancy, asked me if I am as worried about our kids’ generation….

Here’s what I told Nancy to help her make sense of these contradictory opinions. These three reasons may help you have a better and more realistic grasp of Millennials…

Read my entire column here.

[Photo via fabiusmaximus.com]

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What exactly IS your adult child’s job?

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At AARP.com, Mary W. Quigley authored an article on Bring In Your Parents Day, in which she featured some of my comments. Here is an excerpt:

A LinkedIn survey found that 35 percent of parents are not completely familiar with what their children do for a living, and 50 percent thought they could offer suggestions if they understood the job better….

If you go to your child’s office, does it make you look like a helicopter parent? Actually, it makes you look like an involved parent, says consultant Haydn Shaw, and companies know that “parents have a big impact on hiring and retention.”

In some ways, the day is the adult version of back-to-school night. Parents get to see the desk, the workplace, the coworkers and the supervisors — and put a face to the name when their kids complain or compliment a colleague or boss. “You definitely can pick up a vibe about the people and the place when you’re there,” says Shaw, author of Sticking Points, about the multigenerational workplace.

Maybe most important, he says, is that the event can signal a step forward in the parent-adult child relationship….

Read the entire article here.

[Photo via lareinabruja.com]

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Steak or waffles? Overcoming the sticking point of work ethic

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With four generations in the workplace, there are vastly different definitions of what it means to have a good work ethic. Don’t avoid the tensions; get your team talking about these questions:

  • Does it matter how many hours you work if you get your work done?
  • Do you have to come in to the office, or can you work from someplace else?

Awkward silence might follow at first, but that’s okay. It’s important for teams to spend some time understanding the generational differences around work ethic by finding the common need – and that need is fairness and balance. No one wants to feel cheated or taken advantage of, and everyone wants more balance in life. Unless older generations understand the reasons why GenXers and Millennials view work ethic differently, they’ll continue seeing them as “slackers.” In the same way, the younger generations must seek to understand Traditionalists and Boomers by learning about the world in which they grew up.

Think of work like a meal: the older two generations see work as the steak and everything else in life as the side dishes. The younger two generations see life as more of a waffle, where work is one quadrant and everything else makes up the other three squares. (So please, boss, keep your work syrup off the other three squares of my waffle.)
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Three ways to impress your Millennial boss

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At the AARP Bulletin, Mary W. Quigley featured some of my comments in a recent article. Here’s an excerpt:

Flip flops are coming to the workplace whether we like it or not! So predicts Haydn Shaw, author of Sticking Points, a book about the generational clash in the workplace. We might say, flip flops … no way with my ugly feet! But the reality is that millennials, all 92 million of them vs. 78 million boomers, are rapidly infiltrating the workplace. Not only that, they are increasingly becoming our bosses….

Just as we can rattle on about self-involved and entitled millennials, they complain about technophobic, arrogant older workers. Stereotypes aside, with four generations (seniors, boomers, gen x and millennials) in the workplace cultures will clash. Shaw, 51, lists 12 sticking points of friction among generations: communication, decision-making, dress code, feedback, fun at work, knowledge transfer, loyalty, meetings, policies, respect, training and work ethic.

In an effort to work better with millennial bosses, I asked him to pinpoint three keys areas where older workers can learn to be more flexible….

Read entire article here.

[Graphic via thindifference.com]

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Three simple ways to give Millennials the feedback they want

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Here’s an excerpt from my latest column in the Huffington Post:

“Is feedback really as important to Millennials as we’ve heard?” The accounting senior manager asked me in a workshop I was giving on best work practices for each generation.

Yes, I told them. Millennials’ expectations are different from the older generations’. Millennials grew up with highly involved parents coaching them, instant access online to grades, and thousands of texts with their friends. Mentoring programs are one of the top two soft benefits Millennials look for at an organization. Less than one in ten Millennials think weekly communication is enough. In fact, 35 percent want it multiple times a day, while 25 percent think once a day is fine.

“Especially if you’re a Boomer, take the amount of feedback you would want, and then double it. Then double it again, and you’ll meet the Millennials halfway,” I said.

The group erupted in an audible moan. One manager said what the others were clearly thinking: “I’m already working way too much. How am I going to find the time to give Millennials all the feedback they want?”

One of the biggest challenges to feedback is that we’re making it too difficult. You can give more feedback without adding another two hours to your day….

Read my entire column here.

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Four approaches to dealing with four generations

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The approach we take in dealing with the four generations determines the results we get. You, your boss, and your organization are using one of these four approaches – but which should be used to get the desired outcomes?

  1. Ignore them

    If you want to ignore generational issues, it’s easy: don’t hire people you don’t understand. Hire people like you… until they’re all dead.

    When a generation first hits the workplace, it’s easiest to ignore them. Their numbers are small, so they’re easy to miss. Even more, since they are a minority, they tend to adapt to the dress, communication styles, and approaches of the other generations. They’re wearing flip flops in the car to work, but changing before they walk in – and we are fooled into thinking that because they don’t complain about the work dress code, they don’t have a problem with it.

    I had taught about half my session in Phoenix when a man approached me and said that based on what he had learned about the generations, he had decided to hire only Baby Boomers (or Generation Xers who thought like Boomers) until he flipped his business in five years. I told him he had best find a stupid buyer for his business, because he didn’t have a sustainable business model. He hadn’t thought about passing on the knowledge of his company to younger generations. But this example is not an extreme one. In the past year, I’ve heard fifty managers or executives tell me they are done hiring Millennials.

    But with close to 50% of post-college Millennials already in the workplace, it’s hard to ignore them. And once we can no longer ignore a generation, we have three remaining choices….

  2. [Read More…]

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About Haydn


Haydn's principles were the key to getting generations working together at our company.
- Matt Rubel, former chairman, CEO, and President of Payless Shoe Source


Haydn is smart, practical, and funny. He has the ability to see the big picture through vast amounts of information in multiple disciplines while simultaneously providing practical insights and tools that can be used immediately. Haydn has the rare gift of taking complex things and making them simple—without being simplistic.
- Stephen MR Covey


When Haydn spoke to our leaders, he got us thinking about generational differences in new ways that help us better attract and empower employees of all generations.
- Ralph C. Stayer, CEO and owner of Johnsonville Sausage


Haydn's presentation on generationscontains insights and processes that do indeed work. We've had Haydn back many times to teach our managers these tools. I found it so valuable and enjoyable that I invited my wife to come hear his presentation. It will improve your ability to speak the language of other generations at work and in your personal life.
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Sticking points helps the readers sort out how to get all four generations working together rather than complaining about each other. Very insightful and well balanced.

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- Ken Blanchard, co-author of The One Minute Manager and Trust Works!


Haydn not only turns automatic contention between the generations in understanding, but reveals the opportunities. A must-read!
- Ron McMillan, co-author of four New York Times bestsellers, including Crucial Conversations


Sticking Points will be my reference guide for years to come as a go-to resource for both understanding and resolving generational differences. I predict it will become a reference guide for you, too, filled with ideas and insights you can apply from a person you can trust.
- Stephen MR Covey


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