Part of the Series “The Age of Entrepreneurship”
The workplace is hugely different today from the one in which I started my career. And it’s vastly different from just a few years ago. First, we have to contend with the fact that most young people don’t want to work for companies; they want to start companies. Generation Y is said to be the most entrepreneurial generation ever and MBAs from Stanford prefer to work for smaller companies or start-ups—places with an entrepreneurial culture, with structures they describe as “flat” and “nonhierarchical.” Then, once these companies do get them in the door, it’s with the understanding that they might not stay very long. Platforms like LinkedIn have made it impossible to keep the world from knowing and recruiting every organization’s most talented stars, due to the opportunity offered for individuals to build a portfolio of jobs, not staying in one job for life. Welcome to the Age of Entrepreneurship.
In order to attract and retain the best talent, we have to do much more than create new, desirable products and services. We must think differently about how we treat our employees. This isn’t something to fear, but something to embrace. When everyone opts in and employees are happier, companies are more successful. Here are six new management hacks for the Age of Entrepreneurship:
1. Give frequent feedback: Today’s employees want to see the difference they make in their organization and be recognized for it. Millennials grew up on social media and expect similar feedback channels; fortunately, a new generation of performance management software can help achieve this.
2. Grant flexibility that puts people in charge of their fate: It’s important to create “step-up opportunities,” or roles that have room for constant expansion and the opportunity to push the boundaries. Facebook has done an excellent job by offering everyone the same chance to make a meaningful contribution. Every new engineer, whether a former VP from a competitor or a recent college graduate, experiences the same six-week on-boarding program, and at the end, engineers aren’t assigned a team, they choose one.
3. Provide more coaching: Companies have an obligation to coach their employees and grow their potential for success. Provide them access to executives and others inside and outside of the organization who can serve as mentors to keep them challenged and help them reach their potential.
4. Include everyone: Let employees collaborate with their peers and give them access to executives. They want to be included in the conversation, and feel as if they’re a part of something.
5. Say “thank you”: Often, employees don’t feel valued and appreciated. It’s simple, but employers should never forget to say “thank you.”
6. Rethink the send-off: Too many employers seek to exact retribution when a talented employee leaves the company. Then, in a strange twist, fired employees are given severance packages to dissuade a lawsuit. That system is backwards, and can create more problems for a company than it solves. Sometimes great performers leave—it happens. But they also, on occasion, don’t like the new job as much as they hoped they would. Why not seize the opportunity to welcome them back? Salesforce.com has gained back great executives by allowing them to leave and then return.