Better communication at the workplace is key

IMPATIENT, unfocused, ill-mannered are some oft repeated adjectives describing millennials' attitudes, work ethics and mannerisms. They are criticised for not being able to fit themselves into the working world.

This interests me to see how we can rectify such issue.

First, the wholesale argument against the millennials is an overgeneralisation.

Some of us toil to earn a living, taking up any odd job that can feed ourselves and family. Some invest time and effort in polishing potential, building skills in order to brace the professional world.

Nevertheless, with employers seeking immediate results from the millennials, the time for them to properly learn gets compromised. It slips the employers' mind that the millennials need time to adapt to the new environment.

But like the employers, we, too, are impatient with our progress.

When I first started working, in the first three months of being a clerk handling motor insurance claims, I felt my presence in the company was a waste. I dismissed that to a cross field – from studying English to doing insurance claims – one needs adjustment.

It was only into the fourth month that I began to understand my role day-to-day. In hindsight, I had been impatient with myself, denying my right to have more time to learn.

This anecdote goes to show that as with any skill building, time is of the essence. Given time and cooperation between the employer and employee a skill set can be acquired.

Inevitably, the time spent on training a new recruit is not inexpensive. However, any employer would agree that such is a long-term investment. After all, what is the best way to sustain and grow a business, if not ensuring that every staff is functional and efficient in their respective fields?

Returning to the said stereotypes on millennials, the labels are arguably true to some of us, as is the case of others in preceding generations. But those who are eager to learn, willing to commit 100% to work, also deserve our attention.

The underlying issue of the blanket argument on millennials being inept in the workplace is, I believe, unmet expectations.

The millennials enter the workforce with a set of expectations such as how the work is going to be, what role they will be playing and to what extent they will impact the organisation.

The seniors also have expectations on them. Among others, on how they would be presenting themselves, and what values and ideas they could be offering to the company.

Theoretically, the two groups should be able to work hand in hand towards realising these expectations.

But many, from both groups, are left feeling frustrated over unfulfilled expectations stemming from lack of engagement.

With both the employer and employee being in a constant rush to be at the top, the core, which is the process before achieving the success, gets sidelined.

Therefore, a pertinent question that we should ask ourselves is: How do we overcome the poor engagement between the employer and employee?

The answer, I believe, lies in effective communication. As communication is a two-way street, both have to listen to what the other person has to say.

For example, a new hire would expect to be briefed – not spoonfed – on what to do. The employer has to respond to that by guiding the new person in the process of him or her getting accustomed to the work.

Aside from that, the employer and employee also need to have a conversation on what each offers and expects the other to do. And such conversations are not a one-time affair; they have to take place in almost every single matter. It is only by engaging in the right conversation that expectations can be aired and dissatisfaction and problems sorted out.

The following excerpt from the article by Jeanne C. Meister and Karie Willyerd on Mentoring Millenials published in Harvard Business Review, sums up the idea of employer-employee engagement in the work setting across generations.

"All employees want to feel valued, empowered, and engaged at work. This is a fundamental need, not a generational issue".

This resonates with me and, I believe, with everyone else in the workforce regardless of the generation they belong to.

The writer, now a general clerk, has a penchant for writing but is open to taking up new skills. Comments: