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Friday, 15 April 2016

Human Capital

There is quite a lot of talk about the attitude of millennials at work (eg, FT). Wiki: "Millennials (a.k.a. the Millennial Generation or Generation Y) are the demographic cohort following Generation X. There are no precise dates for when the generation starts and ends; most researchers and commentators use birth years ranging from the early 1980s to the early 2000s".

Apparently, companies have difficulties to attract young graduates and even more difficulties to retain them. After reading such news, the only thought that comes to my mind is: What's new???

One of the things that I remember clearly from the start of my career, is that I felt exhausted after arriving back home again and that the tasks at work were often utterly boring. Moreover, the team spirit during my studies was absent at work. At work everyone was mostly busy making a career and sharing knowledge was not really beneficiary as Knowledge equals Power. The recent outcome of an extensive Google study confirms this (eg, NYT, QZ).

NYT: "In 2012, the company embarked on an initiative — code-named Project Aristotle — to study hundreds of Google’s teams and figure out why some stumbled while others soared. [] No matter how researchers arranged the data, though, it was almost impossible to find patterns — or any evidence that the composition of a team made any difference".

QZ: "Google’s data-driven approach ended up highlighting what leaders in the business world have known for a while; the best teams respect one another’s emotions and are mindful that all members should contribute to the conversation equally. It has less to do with who is in a team, and more with how a team’s members interact with one another". 

QZ: "The findings echo Stephen Covey’s influential 1989 book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Members of productive teams take the effort to understand each other, find a way to relate to each other, and then try to make themselves understood".

Frankly, I have always been amazed by companies that use HR departments to recruit people. Once hired, they let the new recruits find their own way in those companies. Disillusion is much more likely to happen than finding a perfect fit in one of the many teams. It's the total opposite of the successful German apprenticeship system (eg, Atlantic, Economist 2014).

Somehow I still remember one of my first days at work in the early 1980s. I was asked to get coffee for the entire team. Initially, I thought it was a joke and was about to refuse that request. They seemed serious though and I decided not to take any risks in my first days of employment. It was just one of the many examples of the boring tasks of new employees. It may take quite a lot of time before you feel appreciated. And in some companies you will never feel appreciated.

Once I worked in a company in which the owner had a notorious saying: "People are just like pencils. Once they're done, you throw them away." Millennials are just the opposite: Companies are just like computer games. Once you're done, you throw them away".

The Human League - Don't You Want Me (1981) - artists, lyrics, Wiki-1, Wiki-2

I was working as a waitress in a cocktail bar
That much is true
But even then I knew I'd find a much better place


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