This past week I had been invited back to a MBA Leadership class to discuss the topic “Who Am I: The Role of Human Capital within the Global Workplace.I spent about 40 minutes discussing the new roles of human capital within our organizations and then asked if their were any comments. One student in her 20’s, asked me how realistic was it to think that employees would in essence no longer be considered just a number (i.e. an expense item). She had a valid point and our response was that you need to continue to present evidence to the workplace that you bring skills beyond the number on a balance sheet. The second question that struck was a more direct one, I guess.
I had a student, probably in his mid-20’s, who asked me what I thought the contribution to the business world would be of his generation. I had to stop and think about it for a moment but the response came fairly quickly. I believe that when you take their contribution down to its bare essence, their contribution is going to be one of truly defining what collaboration means.
We all play the collaboration game. Whether you are a traditionalist, a Boomer or a Gen X’er we all say we want to consider other idea and views in our organizations. But if you look at the proof in the pudding so to speak, we are fine with new ideas and views as long as they do not rock the boat. When I was looking for a full time HR position I heard more often then not that the reason I was not considered was that the likelihood that I would fall into the meld, and go with the flow was slight because I worked as a consultant. As a whole we don’t like surprises.
My response to the student was that I believe that Gen Y will teach corporations what the true meaning of collaboration is. They know. They have been involved in collaboration their whole lives. Need an answer to a problem, they will ask the world. Need some supporting data for a project, they know where to find it. Hey, I admit that is not the way the other generations were brought up, but it is the new reality. The only way for our organizations to survive in the new business word is through innovation. Innovation only come about by collaborating with everyone (management, fellow employees, vendors, internal and external stakeholders) to find new solutions to existing problems. This comes from an influx of new ideas as how to do things, how to resolve conflicts within the business world.
So what is their impact? Gen Y will lead the business community into a new world. One that is based on rocking the boat where it needs to be. Saving the boat when it is fine. But with some changes within the organization, they will show us the path to greater operational results going forward. They are truly corporate assets, we just need to adjust ourselves to the new reality. The old processes such as annual performance reviews are from the era of Authority and Control not this new environment. Every employee should be able to have a clear picture of how they are contributing to the organization on a 24/7 basis not once a year. They will change us.We just have to determine whether we are going along for the ride or are going to try and say hey your ideas are nice, but that is not the way we do things here or you have not earned your dues as yet?
Your choice, Your future.