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What Really Happens At Work?

What's the Big Idea? 

You've just hired someone. They've read the employee manual and signed all their paperwork. Your job as a manger is done, right? Not so fast, says Jennifer Deal, Senior Research Scientist at the Center for Creative Leadership. In order to successfully integrate your new hire into the workplace, you need to explain to them everything that isn't in the manual. If you do this, Deal says your new employee will not only perform much better, but you will also prevent a lot of embarrassing disconnects with your new hire, like the story she details in this video here:


 What's the Significance?

In the story Deal tells Big Think, a 26-year old was horrified that a 23-year old finished an assignment at work, and then decided to watch TV, instead of asking for another assignment. According to Deal, the lesson is this: the employee's behavior has more to do with it being the person’s first job than the person being a member of an 'entitled' generation. The 23-year old, after all, came from a college setting where as soon as he or she finished an English paper, the work was done. There is no expectation to help your roommate. In a person's first job, the employee lacked an understanding of expectations. And as surprising as that may sound, the employee simply needed to be told that he or she was supposed to ask for another assignment, and then actually responded well when told what to do. This is called “organizational socialization.”

In an interview about her study, Deal summarized that certain perceptions about generations are generalizations, but also that people often use someone’s age and their generation as a scapegoat, when there are probably other issues at play:

If there is a conflict between workers of different generations, people tend to attribute the conflict to generational differences instead of other possible reasons. For example, when a colleague doesn’t deliver on a project, do you complain about the lack of delivery, or do you complain about them being younger? I’ll often hear “this person didn’t do what they were supposed to do, and the reason for this is their generation,” as opposed to “the reason was that they didn’t have adequate information” or “they are incompetent” or any other possible explanation. People default to generational conflict when it may be a possibility, so it’s unclear if some of these conflicts are about generations or if generational difference is used as an easy scapegoat.

This post is part of the series Inside Employees' Minds, presented by Mercer.

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