Tag Archive: Gen Y

Workplace Conflict: The Good, the Bad & the Useful, Part 2

Previously, we wrote about how resolving conflict often has the side benefit of building a cooperative bond — even loyalty — between the factions. As each side gains a deeper understanding of the others’ viewpoints, respect builds and morale improves.  Cooperative, low stress interactions, create a fertile environment for productive brainstorming, ultimately boosting the health of your organization.

Being respectful to others, being open to hearing their perspective, and taking the time to understand their objective are very important, but you’ll need more knowledge in your toolkit to dispel conflict when the conflict gets tough. So, let’s dig deeper today.

How can you demonstrate that you are being respectful and open and trying to understand the other’s perspective?

Here are the top 5 proven techniques you can add to your toolkit:

  1. Ask questions about the other person’s recommendations or point of view in a sincere, non-judgmental manner. Drill down to make sure you totally understand all of their objectives, concerns, and potential obstacles that you may both face.
  2. Replay or paraphrase their points back to show your understanding, and ask for confirmation that you “got it.”
  3. Make sure your body language is open and consistent with your words. If they’re not, people instinctively believe your non-verbal message over the spoken word.
  4. Even if you don’t agree, be sure to acknowledge that you hear and understand the other person’s points.
  5. It wouldn’t hurt (and yes, it could really help) to verbalize some of your “opponents” points that you think are good, smart and, or useful. A sincere compliment, or statement of approval and recognition will go a long way towards resolving conflict.

In Part 3 of this series, we’ll examine the five conflict styles that help people understand their own responses as well as diffuse conflict with others. Specifically, we’ll look at the five conflict styles that Kenneth W. Thomas and Ralph H. Kilmann identified and can be assessed in the Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument (TKI), a globally accepted, widely used diagnostic assessment for resolving conflict.

Understanding the subtleties of conflict and personality styles goes a long way towards elevating an organization’s harmony and effectiveness. At Merit, we frequently facilitate multiple Conflict Management training sessions for our clients where we adjust the level of detail to group (i.e., customer service reps, new managers, and the senior team.) For more information, please contact Jim Wynne at jwynne@meritcd.com or call 610-225-0449.

Permanent link to this article: http://meritcd.com/blogs/workplace-conflict-the-good-the-bad-the-useful-part-2/

Are You Smarter Than a 6th Grader?

We all know that kids are pretty smart these days; just watching my neighbor’s 3-year-old son find Elmo videos on my cell phone makes that clear. But we’d still like to think that as grown-ups, we are brighter, more intelligent and better decision-makers than 6th graders. But are we? We had the opportunity recently, to conduct a project management experiment with a 6th grade class and, well, we were in for quite a surprise.

For more than 15 years, Merit Career Development has trained thousands of individuals to help them improve their project management (PM) skills. In 2010, we incorporated SimulTrain®, a computer-based, online simulation tool, into all of our PM workshops whether it is a one-, two-  or five-day program. SimulTrain always provides a engaging, hands-on, and fun learning experience that significantly boosts skill retention. Essentially, adults; PMs, nurses, accountants or other professionals who want to master these skills, really appreciate this program!  But 6th graders??
The 3 M's Second Period Leading TeamThrough a confluence of circumstances, that began with an invitation from the Keystone PMI Education Foundation Coordinator, Mr. Myles Miller, and the Keystone Chapter of the Project Management Institute, we supported a pilot with 6th graders at the Eyer Middle School in Pennsylvania’s North Penn School District. The parents and students were quite interested in learning the life skill of project management. While some of us were doubtful that our workplace-related program would resonate with these young students, we had enough people willing to give this a try that we scheduled the program. (You can see SimulTrain in action with adults.)

For several weeks before the competition, Myles instructed the students about PM fundamentals and common workplace terminology. When the big day arrived, the students formed teams of four and competed for the best scores throughout the event. In addition to Merit bringing the technology and leadership to the school (the same that is provided for adults), Buckeye Pipeline and the PMI Keystone Chapter sponsored this program, providing the funding for food, t-shirts and trophies for the students.

John Juzbasich, Merit’s CEO, facilitated the SimulTrain “competition”, and confirmed that he ran this program the same way he does for the adults. He provided an overview of the simulator screens, the project at hand — in this case planning a soccer event — timed intervals for the program, and review periods. Scoring took place throughout the competition.

We were amazed at how well the students grasped the technology, the project management concepts and the “game” overall. They did really well and seemed energized, enthused and anxious to play this again. When looking at their scores in each category, we saw that the students performed roughly on par with most of the adults who’ve participated. John Juzbasich insisted that he did not adjust the pace or in any way, make it easier for the kids than the adult version we regularly deliver.  Don’t just take my word, so please click through to these short videos and see for yourself.

Red TeamThe simulation project management competition also generated interest from many families whose children did not have the opportunity to participate the first time this was held, prompting a follow up event scheduled for Spring, 2017. Because the interest is so high, the school is planning to make SimulTrain a regular part of the Eyer Middle School curriculum. A number of universities are also interested in adding project management with simulation to their curriculum. The University of Scranton recently held a competition among their engineering students. There is a similar day scheduled at Lehigh University next month.

Everyone benefits by learning project management skills for school, work and life planning. If you want to expose your child or yourself to SimulTrain, the best project management learning program available, contact Jim Wynne at 610-225-0449 or jwynne@meritcd.com.

Permanent link to this article: http://meritcd.com/blogs/are-you-smarter-than-a-6th-grader/

Why Simulation-Based Instruction is the Best Way to Learn!

sitrain_teams_playing_wide_sts

The Chief Operating Officer (COO) asks the Chief Executive Officer (CEO): “What if we spend time and money training our employees and they leave the company?”

The CEO responds: “What if we don’t and they stay?”

Taking time and resources to train your personnel is often looked at as a necessary evil. Training employees takes them away from their day-to-day tasks and the cost will be reflected on the bottom line. Adding to the challenge of supporting training, is the uncertainty of the return-on-investment at both an individual and organizational productivity level.

As an executive who is considering training your team, the most important question you should ask is not: Should I train my team? but rather: What method of training should I use? Different training methods result in varying levels of content retention. Of course you want to ensure that your organization achieves the greatest value from training, so relevant content as well as deploying the use of experiential learning techniques should both be priorities.

learning-_pyramid

As the image to the left illustrates, participatory learning, especially using simulation for practice, provides the highest level of retention for training, second only to “teaching others.”

What is simulation-based learning? It is an instructor-guided, interactive learning environment that replicates an actual business, technical, or educational challenge. It permits the learners to practice resolving issues in a relatively worry-free atmosphere. Not only is it authentic and relevant to the learners’ work, but it provides a safe environment to learn; mistakes won’t result in costly repercussions. It’s ideal to spur on innovation, too, because it allows for creative problem solving.

Simulation-based learning is the most effective technique for developing every professionals’ knowledge, skills, and attitudes, whilst protecting the organization from unnecessary risks. It is useful in resolving practical dilemmas, and provides four real-time benefits.

  1. EXPERIENTIAL & REPETITIVE LEARNING. While in traditional lecture-based training, the desired outcome is merely explained; in simulation learning, individuals achieve an outcome from first-hand experience. Adults, like most people, learn better through experience. In the simulation, individuals have the opportunity for repetitive practice, which helps increases retention.
  2. KNOWLEDGE INTEGRATION. A key facet of any learning is that understanding is increased when it is linked to some already known piece of knowledge. Simulation-based learning, because of its participatory nature, has the added benefit of being able to psychologically link concepts and allow participants to link knowledge areas through their actions.
  3. RISK-FREE LEARNING ENVIRONMENT. Regardless of our attitude, learning research validates that we learn by making mistakes. In fact, they are invaluable to the participant. If executive decision makers can participate in relevant and realistic simulations, they can safely make mistakes, learn from them, and promptly apply their learned knowledge to their real work challenges, avoiding costly mistakes or unintended consequences.
  4. ABILITY TO ADJUST THE LEVEL OF DIFFICULTY. The technology provided in most simulation-based learning tools are designed to allow the difficulty level to increase as the competency of the individuals and teams improve. This provides additional flexibility and continual learning opportunities for a varied level of experienced personnel.

Simulation-based learning is the most effective learning technique for both your employees and your organization. Your training dollars are better invested with simulation training because of higher learning retention. Further, because your team will practice with relevant and practical scenarios, the potential for catastrophic mistakes is mitigated.

If you’re looking for a relevant, engaging interactive learning environment with simulation, call Merit and ask about our SimulTrain® project management training experience. Contact Jim Wynne at  jwynne@meritcd.com or call him at 610-225-0449.

Permanent link to this article: http://meritcd.com/blogs/why-simulation-based-instruction-is-the-best-way-to-learn/

Emotional Intelligence (EQ): The Essential Secret to Great Performance

The concept of emotional intelligence, EQ, has been studied for over 30 years. Research shows that high EQ predicts success beyond an individual’s knowledge, skills and abilities. Emotionally intelligent leaders have significantly greater annual profit growth, increased customer satisfaction, and higher personnel retention. In management, the more senior the leader, the more the EQ matters. In sales and customer service capacities, the higher EQs correlate directly to success.

RedheadStudies show that lack of EQ may limit a person’s ability to achieve results. Lower EQ scores correlate with lower merit pay increases, lower job satisfaction and more burnout. Managers’ and supervisors’ EQ scores correlate with their performance ratings.

The definition of emotional intelligence has been the subject of ongoing debates; however, researchers all agree that it consists of two principal components. The first component; intrapersonal skills or self-awareness, is the ability to recognize one’s emotions as they occur, helping one gain self-control in potentially emotionally charged situations.

The second component, interpersonal skills or social awareness, is the ability to recognize others’ emotions. The ability to express empathy enables one to have more positive relationships and minimize unproductive conflict. EQ helps put people at ease, build and mend relationships, confront problem employees, and manage change.

It is important to note that emotional intelligence can be learned. Understanding and incorporating specific EQ skills, techniques, and behaviors can help improve both the intrapersonal and interpersonal skill sets. An intra-personal skill, self-monitoring, can help one can limit or minimize emotional hijacking. Let‘s look at this closer…

Emotional IntelligenceWe all have specific words or phrases that are steeped in emotion. During the 1960s and 70s, the term “nuclear power” raised a great deal of emotion—both positive and negative. Similarly today we have emotionally charged words or phrases such as “gun control”, terrorism, and consumer privacy. It is important to recognize one’s own emotionally charged phrases and stop the emotional hijacking that is about to take place.

By recognizing our emotional responses when we hear a cue by self-monitoring, we can prevent emotional hijacking before it takes place. Stopping to recognize the emotional trigger is an important first step. Taking a deep breath, and/or silently counting to 10 can help us regain composure and react in a rational manner.

As for interpersonal skills, empathy helps us develop more positive relationships with others at work. Increasing our display of empathy enables us to connect with another person on an emotional level, thus allowing us to develop a meaningful, trusting relationship.

The question remains, however, how much emotional intelligence do you have—what is your baseline? Do you have an EQ deficiency, or are you well above average? There is only one way to know your EQ baseline and that is to take an assessment. Many exist on the Internet, some free others fee-based, however they may not stand up to statistical reliability and validity standards.

We invite you to take our free online self-assessment http://www.meritcd.com/assessments/eq/ and see how you compare to others; it takes less than 15 minutes. You will receive a report comparing you to the general population and you will know your starting point. With your baseline in hand you can select appropriate techniques and build your self-awareness and social awareness skill sets, and improve your emotional intelligence.

Would you like some guidance to improve your staff’s EQ? Merit offers half-day and full day workshops that help participants understand, identify their baseline, and strengthen their emotional intelligence. With exercises and interactive assessment tools, this workshop is engaging and life changing. For more information, please contact Jim Wynne at jwynne@meritcd.com or call him at 610-225-0449.

Permanent link to this article: http://meritcd.com/blogs/emotional-intelligence-eq-the-essential-secret-to-great-performance/

Can Everyone Be a Leader?

Collective LeadershipIn recent years, a growing number of organizations have changed the way they are structured. The old top-down way of doing business, in which management wields all the power, is increasingly giving way to a collective leadership style, in which all employees are involved in setting and reaching company goals.

Some of the most successful companies—like Google, Apple, and Zappos, for example—are comprised of employees who are passionate about their company’s business strategy and working toward its goals. They are also engaged in actively promoting their company’s policies

Collective leadership is one way to increase employee growth and productivity. Blurring the lines between boss and worker, it empowers the latter—and leads to creativity, team building and openness, allowing employees more ownership of their work, while maintaining a level of discipline that ensures the job gets done.

Leaders who practice this type of collaboration believe that their power doesn’t come from their title or position, but rather that the group is stronger when everyone shares information and each individual is encouraged to offer ideas and suggestions.

The challenge for the leader is to create an environment where diverse individuals can work together effectively toward those shared goals. To do so, keep these points in mind:

  • The manager must trust the employees and their judgment, and make sure the employees know it.
  • Employees need to be capable of achieving the stated goals.
  • Employees must believe in what they are doing and know they are members of the team.
  • The manager needs to recognize that employees from different generations may have different work styles and know how to blend those differences for team productivity.

A manager who practices collective leadership is easy to spot. First and foremost, she doesn’t dictate to her team, rather, she brainstorms with them, and they arrive at solutions together. This leader knows how to allocate time and resources to foster this collaboration, allowing team members to hold various roles in which their responsibilities evolve.

She doesn’t run around “putting out fires,” instead, she gets to the root of an issue, offering immediate and ongoing feedback. She coaches all year round, not just at performance review time. And she ensures her team members are cross-trained, trusting them and allowing them to be accountable for themselves.

Of course, it’s not simple or easy, but there are some guidelines for creating a collective leadership style in your workplace, according to Marion Chamberlain in the Huffington Post.

  • Rotate leadership responsibilities, giving everyone the chance to understand what it means to “lead.”
  • Educate everyone equally, giving them access to the same information.
  • Don’t promote just to promote. Let individuals learn new tasks and move forward in those they are best at.
  • Offer good salaries, benefits, and additional perks, so employees will want to keep advancing their skill set.
  • Allow employees to make their own decisions and hold themselves accountable, based on clearly stated guidelines.

The collective leadership approach has grown with the increase in international competition and the shrinking of the global marketplace. Employees want to have more responsibility and autonomy in their work, as they actively engage and work as a team to create and set goals, and to achieve them.

This is especially true of the generation born between 1981 and 2000, the Millennials, who, in general, like to interact and collaborate with their colleagues, using a high degree of creativity to accomplish goals. This is a major divergence from the Baby Boomers who thrive on direct orders and chain of command, closed doors and annual reviews.

A truly collaborative environment is creative and innovative, and must tap into the best qualities of all the diverse individuals of all ages in its workforce. Putting at least some of these techniques in place can be a smart business decision that pays dividends over the long haul.

For more information about how Merit Career Development can hone your leadership and management skills, please contact Jim Wynne at jwynne@meritcd.com.


© 2015 Merit Career Development. All rights reserved.

Permanent link to this article: http://meritcd.com/blogs/can-everyone-be-a-leader/

Hyperconnected & Collaborative: Gen Z Hits the Workplace

Collaborative and hyperconnected, Gen Z is Gen Y 2.0. Are you ready to manage this generation?Managing Different Generations in the Workplace: Part Three

Managing Generation X’s need for direct feedback and millennials’ desire for innovation is challenging enough, but a third generation of workers is trickling into the workforce. Generation Z, comprised of individuals born after 1995 up to the present, is already one of the biggest generational groups in the U.S.

While they may share a number of qualities with their Gen Y predecessors, communicating with this collection of young adults is an entirely different process. Continuing our four-part series on generations in the workplace, it’s time to break down the final crew: Generation Z.

Reliance on technology

Like millennials, Gen Zers have been using technology since pre-adolescence—but their focus has been on more automated programs that require creativity or social networking over digital engineering. The Association for Talent Development suggests that managers retool their work processes and infrastructure to accommodate for automation. For example, inputting electronic data and running spreadsheets suits Generation Z’s technological preferences, but building spreadsheets doesn’t. Their focus is on easy-to-use programs that coordinate activities or communication.

As a result, members of Generation Z may require more guidance than workers of other generations when it comes to learning new software or tasks. They benefit greatly from instructor-led training exercises that utilize simulations or computer programs. A 2012 Forrester Research report showed that Generation Z is the second-largest demographic owning iPhones at 24 percent, ranking a few points below millennials (29 percent). Managers should take advantage of this group’s inclination for mobile technology and coordinate educational materials that are accessible via handheld devices.

Sense of hyperconnectivity

According to Bloomberg View, Gen Zers might be overconnected in comparison to millennials. They’re accessing a wider variety of media: television, smartphones, tablets and mobile devices. A recent report from New York-based advertising agency Sparks and Honey revealed that members of Generation Z spend roughly 41 percent of their time outside of work or school interacting with computers or other technologies. Managers can utilize this sense of hyperconnectivity through modalities like chat programs that bring employees together and foster communication among staff.

In another study conducted by Wikia, “GenZ: The Limitless Generation,” researchers surveyed 1,200 Wikia users between the ages of 13 and 18. They found that 60 percent of Gen Zers share their knowledge with others online, an indication that they possess substantial collaborative skills. An additional 64 percent contribute content to websites because they enjoy learning new things, while 66 percent believe technology makes them feel as though anything were possible.

Given the penchant for collaboration, managers should include Gen Zers in more project management assignments. Generation Z’s networked approach to learning and development makes them feel engaged when working with a team. Social interaction is the optimal choice for communicating with this group, and hands-on training is the best option.

Unlike millennials, there’s still time before the majority of Gen Z enters the workforce. Managers should begin thinking about this generation and how to manage them now. Stick around as we segue into the final chapter of our series where we discuss strategies to connect all three generations—X, Y and Z—into one cohesive workforce.


© 2014 Merit Career Development. All rights reserved. For more information, please contact Jim Wynne at jwynne@MeritCD.com.

Permanent link to this article: http://meritcd.com/blogs/hyperconnected-collaborative-gen-z-hits-the-workplace/

What Millennials Bring to the Table

stock-photo-36055298-gen YManaging Different Generations in the Workplace: Part Two

In the first article of our four-part series on communicating with employees of different generations, we examined the unique characteristics of Generation X. Following the determined and work-driven perspective of the baby boomers, Gen Xers enjoy a happy learning medium of experience and ingenuity. But what about Generation Y, the age group often referred to as Millennials?

Generation Y has proven to be vastly different from its predecessors, carving a distinct niche for working millennials. Let’s discuss how to communicate with these tech-minded individuals.

Growing up with technology

Born between the years 1981 and 2000, millennials have a strong grasp on the kind of hardware and software currently utilized in today’s workplace. Unlike the baby boomers and Gen Xers, Gen Y has had its fingers on the pulse of technological advancements from an early age. Because of this, the best way to coordinate training with these learners is through mobile or Web-based platforms. Millennials feel more involved and digest information at a faster rate when it’s shared electronically. Training magazine recommends engaging and improving effective communication skills with Gen Y by conducting quick research by smartphone using polls and quizzes.

However, remember that Gen Y employees are bombarded with digital information every day, and they’re adept at weeding out what’s pertinent and what’s “spam.” Whether you’re designing training materials or constructing presentations, make sure the information is concise and to the point.

Millennials need more than competitive salaries and rewarding work experience to be satisfied – this generation needs to be more engaged in the training process. Leverage this by having millennials take the lead in new training programs. Gen Y is a valuable resource for guiding more senior colleagues in using tablets and Internet systems, the Philadelphia Business Journal explains. Allowing millennials to help train their peers creates an environment that breeds trust and communication among co-workers.

Bridging the communication gap

Gen Yers have been maligned by some researchers as possessing a “very inflated sense of self” and being “a pampered and nurtured generation,” according to Psychology Today. This misconception may stem from millennials’ understandable desire for consistent and meaningful feedback on their work. Acclimated to the immediate feedback loops of social media, video games and other interactive platforms, millennials thrive in responsive environments. As a result, email becomes very useful for managers. Not only does it allow for a responsive environment, but Gen Yers are characterized as more likely to respond to electronic correspondence than phone calls or physical meetings.

Gen Yers are a group of unique individuals that like to interact with peers and lean on creativity to get tasks done. Fueled by collaboration, Generation Y thrives from active training lessons that bring them together in a room to chat and role-play. Managers must use this to their advantage by designing exercises that feed into the social and improvisational strengths of millennials, as opposed to the self-reliant, structured approach of Generation X. Stick with us to learn about millennials’ not-so-distant cousin: Generation Z.


© 2014 Merit Career Development. All rights reserved. For more information, please contact Jim Wynne at jwynne@MeritCD.com.

Permanent link to this article: http://meritcd.com/blogs/what-millennials-bring-to-the-table/

Independent & Hardworking, Gen X Wants Balance

Gen Xer

Managing Different Generations in the Workplace: Part One

The eclectic mix of employee personalities and working styles can be challenging in itself. However, with roughly three different generations working together at one time, multiple perspectives, and varying levels of experience, compound the complexity of training.

Generation X—birth dates ranging from the early 1960s to the early 1980s—has worked for more than two decades. With Generations Y and Z entering the fold, what’s the most effective method of communication with this cohort? As the first of a four-part series, let’s break down Generation X.

The concept of authority

According to annual surveys administered by the Longitudinal Study of American Youth, Gen Xers are defined as people who are highly educated, active, balanced and family-oriented. The study gathers data using various questions and responses from roughly 4,000 participants who were surveyed each year from 1987 through 2010.

The LSAY is a project funded by the National Science Foundation that began in 1985 and is designed to measure the development of student attitudes toward achievements and career paths in a range of subject areas. The participants are surveyed during middle school, high school and the first four years of post-high school.

Forbes magazine explained that Gen Xers view their superiors as experts whose work experience and skill levels demand a high level of consideration and respect. They believe that being an authoritative figure in the workplace is a substantial achievement and earned through hard work and dedication. They also like structure and direction from senior leadership, but are self-reliant when completing a task.

The perception of balance

According to Training magazine, Gen Xers strive to find a balance between the office and home. Because baby boomers are usually loyal to their workplace, Gen Xers might view their older colleagues as workaholics who are afraid of change and lack adaptability. Being brought up during a shift in technological advancements, Generation X learns from a range of modalities – from traditional, instructor-led training to online classroom environments.

Leaders should understand how Gen Xers operate and incorporate various methods to effectively engage them in the training environment. These include a mixture of visual activities, like PowerPoint presentations combined with virtual quizzes and polls. The best communication balance for managers is to provide adequate feedback to Gen Xers: It can serve as a viable motivator for continuing—or improving—their strong work ethic.

The power of engagement

Caught in-between two very different generations—baby boomers and millennials—Gen Xers are a blend of the old and new guards. They can endure the nitty-gritty grind of completing projects, but they also appreciate working autonomously on various assignments.

Knowing this, managers should leverage the Generation X motivators and accommodate their unique perspectives on the workplace. Direct and immediate feedback keeps them engaged and happy, contributing to the company’s success and maintaining high employee morale as well. For example, exploring monetary bonus plans for completing assignments can provide Gen Xers with the encouragement they need for optimal performance.

To work efficiently on bolstering productivity and engagement, managers need to understand the characteristics of Generation X. But with Generations Y and Z in the workplace as well, they have to accommodate for varying personalities. Stay tuned for our next feature on the Millennials and their own specific intricacies.

Review a course list or contact Merit today for more information.


© 2014 Merit Career Development. All rights reserved. For more information, please contact Jim Wynne at jwynne@MeritCD.com.

Permanent link to this article: http://meritcd.com/blogs/different-generations-in-the-workplace-engaging-gen-x/