Text posted Thursday, August 16, 2012
One credit union manager was telling me about a young employee who routinely came to work late and then made lots of personal calls on his cell phone throughout the workday. “Do I really need to tell him, ‘Come to work on time, and it’s not good to make so many personal calls all day long’?” Yes! You have to tell him, up front and every step of the way.
“I would make lots of offhand comments to him like, ‘Hey, you know, trickle in here whenever you feel like it. Don’t feel any pressure to come to work on time. Make all the calls you want.’ But he just wasn’t getting the hint.” The manager continued, “At the end of my rope, I pulled this guy aside. I had worried so much about having the conversation, worried it was going to be a big blow-up. When I said to him, ‘It’s really not acceptable to come to work late,’ he said, ‘Really? Why didn’t you just say so?’ When I told him, ‘You really are only supposed to make personal calls on your cell phone at a break or at lunch or in the case of an emergency,’ he said, ‘Really? Why didn’t you just say so?’ Then he went into this whole spiel: ‘What else aren’t you tellin’ me, Sparky? Sparky, you gotta tell me stuff that’s important to ya.’ So I told him, ’There is one other thing. Please stop calling me Sparky. You can call me Rob, or you can call me Mr. Sarkington.’”
Gen Yers will be open and direct with you if you give them the chance. One Gen Yer recently told me, “My boss never gets to the point. You don’t have to give me a whole line of BS. Don’t even try to sweeten it up for me. I can take it. Just be real. Just get to the point.” Indeed, being open with Gen Yers will help you keep tabs on their attitude, behavior, shifting loyalties, and commitments in and out of the workplace. The problem is that in an effort to foster that openness, some managers find themselves getting dragged into time-consuming and uncomfortable personal territory that really should be avoided. The other problem is that in order to avoid personal minefields, managers often end up soft-pedaling their requirements and withholding candid feedback no matter how fair and straightforward it might be.