Who among you works with youth or young employees? How do you help the next generation to transform good intentions into teamwork, collaboration, and positive results?
That’s what I had the opportunity to put to the test this past week when teaching a class in Introduction to Management to university students, youth with several months of corporate work experience. The university called me in to pick up a class in the middle of their curriculum; I began with the topics of Motivation and Leadership. How appropriate!
Personable and polite students entered the class with good intentions. In theory, they were motivated. In practice, they quickly lost focus by chatting with a colleague or scrolling on their mobile phone. Bye bye, teamwork.
Professor colleagues lament the young generation’s lack of attention and most respond in either of two schools
- to carry on whether the students are listening or not
- to walk over to the students’ desk and close their computers for them
My area of expertise is Motivation-in-the-Era-of-Internet which expounds that employees are most motivated when they find autonomy, mastery, and purpose in their work. Ignoring students or treating them like a child lies contrary to this Motivation 3.0 approach.
“Management is about creating conditions for people to do their best work…And what science is revealing is that carrots and sticks can promote bad behavior and encourage short-term thinking at the expense of the long view.” – Dan Pink, from Drive
Additionally, my experience with Millennials confirms their search for authenticity and connection in relationships. Neither of the above teaching/leadership styles convey either genuine interest in or an engagement with the students.
Here was my dilemma: How to teach/lead and engage these students in a way that
- ensures results (the material is covered qualitatively=
- creates a sense of belonging and desire to contribute among the students?
In other words, how to help these Post Millennials transform their good intentions into positive teamwork?
Team-Generated Collaboration Guidelines
We used a tool that works wonders in my workshops: Co-Developed Group Guidelines
This tool helps both create and maintain a constructive work environment.
1. The first step entails putting the good intentions into writing. Here is how.
Invite your group to share, “What can we each do to work together as a great team?”
Folk respond right away with, “To respect each other.” And the list continues.
2. It’s helpful to break down vague or over-used words.
- “What does respect mean exactly?”
- “What will it sound/look/feel like?”
- “What is an example of lack of respect that we should avoid?”
3. Once the brainstorming complete, invite the group to prioritize three to five of these great team behaviors.
The process of making the list together brings the success-criteria to top of mind. It’s like hearing the reminder to drink 1 liter of water a day. We know these are helpful behaviors AND we benefit from remembering to do so.
The process of having built these teamwork criteria together builds belonging to the group and accountability. “It’s the rules I made. It’s normal that I should keep them.”
Here is our class’ list.
As humans, any rule is hard to follow, even the great ones we make ourselves! We need help yet even well-intentioned positive reminders can sound like nagging. Invite self-evaluation as an effective means of follow through.
Half-way through my class I invited our group to review our team ground rules. “How are we doing? Thumbs up (good teamwork), side ways (OK job), or down (need improvement).”
In our class, thumbs were all over the place! That’s an opportunity to address the elephant in the room.
“Well…it looks like some people think we are listening while other people talk, and others don’t.”
That’s where I appealed to everyone to think of one or two behaviors to change so that our listening improved. Some students closed their computers on their own accord. We reshuffled the break-out groups which had the effect of separating chattering partners. People sat up straighter in their chairs…
And we smiled (!) and continued with class.
And for our next session on Communication and Teamwork, we’ll begin by reviewing those same co-developed ground rules and setting a personal goal to be 1 Great. Team.
How do you engage your young employees? Please share in the comments.
Apply Teamwork Guidelines to Your Work
What is your challenge with teamwork?
- People arrive late in meetings
- Folk repeat what has already been said or done
- Meetings have no agenda
- Lack of trust
Try setting a new stage. Instead of focusing on the challenges, brainstorm together about great teamwork and, TOGETHER, set yourselves some clear guidelines.
Apply Teamwork Guidelines to Your Life
Easter is this Sunday. In France, it’s customary to celebrate over a looooooong meal with extended family. You love the food, wine, and company. The kids get bored à table for an eternity.
Try this activity “en famille.”
“Sweethearts, what can we do to make the big family meal a great experience for everyone?”
Everyone can brainstorm:
- “We could get up and play between courses”
- “We could get up and help (!) between courses!!”
- “We could have Easter Egg drawings and color them while the adults finish eating”
- “We could make an Easter Egg hunt for the adults!!!”
Once the brainstorming juices have flown free, then select one or two options that’s acceptable to everyone. 🙂
Photo by Robert Collins on Unsplash