Monthly Archives: December 2014

Enter the Millennials and Digital Natives

“Our technological powers increase, but the side effects and potential hazards also escalate.”

Alvin Toffler

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The rise of the ‘millennials’ and ‘digital natives’ will in the coming years produce a new and combustible working environment. The old-timers (so to speak) will have to accommodate the habits of the tech-savvy generation while the young (so to speak) will have to learn and retain some of the invaluable skills left behind by older generations. Naturally part of the problem is that people’s skills in the digital and technological domain will have to be honed and improved in the face of the momentum the world of technology is gathering.

Florence Broderick noted, “It’s fundamental that we understand that no social network, platform, app or technology will ever really help us with our soft skills.” These ‘soft skills’ in the age of a technological revolution are becoming an increasingly, if not an essential part of the workplace.

In Futureboard’s recent article two members of the technology community noted that while the pace of software and technology is moving fast technology; businesses require a mixture of individual’s and profiles, not simply introverts who love to code.

They need business leaders to manager technical projects, graphic designers to create memorable brands, business developers to sell their products and entrepreneurs to innovate and make bigger things happen. It is important to remember that not all millennials and digital natives will end up being cyber-robotic organisms, an extension of AI incapable of effective human communication staring at computers screens indefinitely.

By 2025 (10 years will disappear quickly!) millennials will account for 75% of the global workforce. This 75% will have a different view of how work should get done and come into the workforce with a different set of expectations from their employers.

However on the flip side employers from Gen X and the Baby Boomers generations (despite being the minority) will and should in many aspects expect Gen Y and Gen Z to be able to adapt to certain attitudes and behaviours in the workplace. According to Futureboard’s Student Survey conducted in 2014, these would range from strong work ethics, the ability to engage effectively in a face to face discussion when required, and be competent by email and telephone when necessary. There are disadvantages to Skype as there are to email.

Perceptions between different generations are of equal importance. There are workplace assumptions that millennials need to be prepared to challenge. According to a survey of 6,361 job seekers and veteran HR professional in 2013, 86% of HR professionals described Millennials as tech-savvy with 1% loyalty to their employers. The reality is that 82% of Millennials describe themselves as loyal to employers and 35% would describe themselves as tech-savvy. This is one example and illustrates that narrowing the gap between workplace perceptions and expectations of employers and employees is important for companies.

What will the outcome be if the integration of a broad set of different generational skills is successful in the workplace? Particular companies will thrive if they are able to absorb ‘digital natives’ and ‘technoholics’ and make the transition from a predominantly hierarchical organisation to one that is predominantly based on networking, fluidity and constant evolution and adaptability.  The ‘digital natives’ are career multitaskers, they will move between businesses and pursue careers without boundaries and the millennials will prefer working with organisations, rather than for them and generally lead flexible lifestyles with an increased importance on work-life balance.

However the emerging workforce must learn and understand the skills and motives that drove previous generations as strong work ethic, the ability to communicate to large and small audiences in person, respect, loyalty and input, regardless of the changing working hours, remain an absolute essential in any working environment. Old and new have to merge so that markets can accommodate Gen Y and Gen Z in a comfortable manner.

Matthew Williams

(P.S: Happy New Year!!! Bring on 2015!)

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Personality Assessment, ‘TYPE’ and working styles.

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According to the BBC there are 2,500 personality tests on the market and more than 92% of employers surveys in the UK considered psychometric testing an important tool for recruitment. It is used by 89 of the Fortune 100 companies and has been translated into 24 different languages. It shouldn’t be a surprise, it is now regularly used by employers to assess personalities and psychometric qualities of candidates. Is it important to know our ‘type’? Is it important to undergo tests such as the one created by Myers-Briggs that can help both your personal and professional life?

From a graduate perspective, tests like the Myers-Brigg shouldn’t be set in stone. As people we are constantly changing. Our objectives change, perceptions can shift, and the ideal job for some can radically change at different stages in life. For example I have shifted from an (ENTP) to an (ENFP) in the space of a year. Not a drastic change but it symbolises how personality tests should be regarded as short-term snap-shots of what our mind-set is and what we want perhaps over a period of a year to eighteen months rather than a long-term characterisation of who you are and what you want.

The simplicity of Myers-Briggs (here is a example of the test), Shapes & Colors, FIRO-B (Fundamental Interpersonal Relations Orientation-Behaviour), DISC and many others which are beautiful for companies seeking a simpler way to filter to-be employees into certain categories.  Rachel Robinson of the consultancy firm YSC in central London notes that “Myers-Briggs is the most successful psychometric out there and deservedly so…It has been a fantastic vehicle for people to think about themselves and how others are different.”

Individuals vary within the sixteen categories of MBTI. For example a ENFP is quoted in MBTI as ‘hating routine, schedules and structure’ which isn’t true in my case I tend to become very effective when I combine organisation with the supposed ‘creativity’ that makes an ENFP. Who’s to say a spontaneous person can’t become disciplined, organised and structured in their working environment? After all some people (not all) can switch from social life to work mode easily.

Obviously the MBTI isn’t recommended as a recruitment tool to be used in isolation; assessment centres, face-to-face interviews and other techniques should be used to assess whether a person is suitable for a job or not (i.e. competency, experience, organisational fit etc.). There are other tools with which employers can assess their candidates.

Active jobseekers who are constantly applying for and looking for work should note the value of personality tests. It can tell how you may like to work, what kind of environment suits you best and whether or not your personality and strengths, values and principles meet those of the company or job entailed. It is also very useful for leaders and fellow colleagues to assess different working styles, how they present themselves to other people and how to place themselves in other people’s shoes. This can help facilitate better teamwork and minimize team conflict.

For graduates who are unsure of what they want to do or unsure of what direction to take it is particularly useful, not at deciding what you should do, but for narrowing your options in what can sometimes can seem like a marketplace of too many choices. Personality tests in some cases can provide direction. You increase your self-knowledge: how you respond to conflict, what motivates you, what causes you stress, how you like to work in a team and how you solve problems and knowing these answers can help you immensely in interviews when faced with these style of questions.

Matthew Williams

http://www.humanmetrics.com/cgi-win/jtypes2.asp (Try this model based on the Myers Briggs test and compare it with the personality below http://www.geekinheels.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/star_wars_mbti.png )

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‘Do you have any questions?’

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When this question is asked by an interviewer, do not say “No” and end the interview!

Interviews can be draining and nerve-wracking for some, but no matter how tired of talking you are at the end of their questions be ready to ask them questions. Reverse the roles and be bold enough to ask your potential employers all of the questions you need to know to be able to make the decision whether this is the right role for you.

After all, this role could potentially have big implications for your career and you want to be sure that you make the right decisions. The value of asking questions focuses on how you may like to work, what kind of environment that suits you best and whether or not your personality, strengths, values and principles are met by those of the company or job entailed. This is something regularly assessed in the Myers Briggs personality test which can aid you in discovering what job roles may suit you at a specific moment in your life.

Employers will be impressed by your confidence to ask them difficult and necessary questions and it is a good sign that you arrived at the interview with preparation. Here is a list of good questions to ask the interviewers opposite you.

  1. What are the most enjoyable and the least enjoyable aspects of the role?
  2. What does career progress look like within the organisation?
  3. You mentioned there will be a lot of presenting/researching/liaising; what do your most successful people find satisfying about this part of the role?
  4. How would you describe the work culture here?
  5. What have you enjoyed most about working here?
  6. In what way is performance measured and reviewed?
  7. What are the most important issues that you think your organisation will face?
  8. What are the short-term and long-term objectives of this particular product/service/division/project; how will this benefit the organisation?
  9. Why does this role matter to the growth of the company?
  10.  Will I receive any feedback from the interview?
  11. What is the single largest problem facing your organisation and would I be in a position to help you solve this problem?
  12. What constitutes success at this position and this firm or non-profit?
  13. Can you tell me about the team I’ll be working with?
  14. What is the next step in the process?
  15. Who previously held this position?

You don’t need to ask them in any particular order or all of them! Pick and choose where relevant to a role and apply them when necessary. If a conversation starts keep it going and utilise the time to illustrate your passion for the work you do and how it relates to the role. Ask them confidently (not aggressively) and with a smile and remember ask questions one by one and give the interviewers time to collect themselves. Don’t bombard them!

Matthew Williams

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