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Millennials and the future workplace: Launching Talent Management Talk

I’m really excited to launch Talent Management Talk – a new regular video chat, where we’re aiming to bring together some of the best thinkers in talent management for the future of work.

This week I was delighted to chat about millennials and the future of work with Chelsea Forster, Head of Human Resources for The Foundation for Young Australians and Steve Pell, entrepreneur and founder of Intrascope Analytics.

The Foundation for Young Australians (FYA) is an amazing, progressive workplace, utilising many workplace practices that many would still just consider theory. FYA has created a flexible workplace, with a focus on personal development rather than tenure. As we talk about in this (rather animated) discussion FYA and aims for its employees to get as much out of FYA as the organization gets out of its employees.

Steve also brings an interesting perspective, given his work with workplace data (as well as being a millennial). As Steve talks about in this chat a number of times –  I agree that it’s important we don’t confuse cause and effect when thinking about millennials and the workplace.

The workplace is changing rapidly at the same time as millennials are becoming a dominant force in the workforce. But as I wrote about here, that doesn’t mean millennials are always the cause of these changes.

You can watch the video highlights and see the full transcript below. I’d love you to join the conversation on millennials at work and leadership in the next generation on Twitter using @cognology.

The full transcript follows below:

Jon Windust:
Hey everybody and welcome to Talent Management Talk. I’m Jon Windust, the CEO of Cognology. I’m honoured to have here with me today, Chelsea Forster, who is the Head of Human Resources for The Foundation for Young Australians and Steve Pell, entrepreneur and founder of Intrascope. Today we are going to be talking about millennials in the changing workplace, and what better place to start than by talking with Chelsea who is from The Foundation for Young Australians. Chelsea, can you tell us who the foundation is and what you do?

Chelsea Forster:
Sure. The Foundation for Young Australians is the only independent, national, not for profit foundation for young Australians. We talk to all young Australians, no matter where they are from or who they are, and talk to them about their future in Australia and help them on that path.

Jon Windust:
Right, okay. As the head of human resources for the Foundation of Young Australians, I’m guessing you’re dealing with millennials every day?

Chelsea Forster:
Yes, true, good assumption.

Jon Windust:
All right. There are some crazy things out there that you hear about millennials these days. There are some insane myths. You would think that, “Henny Penny, the sky is going to fall in.” What are some of the crazy myths that you guys are hearing about millennials?

Chelsea Forster:
Well, one of the ones that I hear mostly is that they don’t want to work as hard as perhaps previous generations wanted to, which I know is a complete myth, and that they left the commitment to the workforce that perhaps generations before have had.

Jon Windust:
Right. What about you Steve, what are you hearing?

Steve Pell:
My take on this is that we are seeing the workplace change very, very fast at the moment through technology, through the economic environment, through everything else and a lot of the changes that are just external are then pushed down onto millennials. Like, “the millennials want additional flexibility”, “the millennials have no commitment.” Again, I think it’s just kind of universal truths that we’re kind of attributing down.

Jon Windust:
Yes and the data doesn’t bear it out does it? We pulled out some stats recently that actually show that tenure isn’t actually going down, people are actually staying in their roles, if anything a little bit longer than what they used to.

Chelsea Forster:
Interestingly last year PWC ran a report called Next Gen and they really looked at what millennials as a generation want and what the other generations want, and flexibility in the work force was something that both generations wanted equally. Everybody is embracing the new technology. Everybody is embracing this opportunity to be more flexible. It’s not just the younger generation. I agree with you, it’s more of a timing thing.

Steve Pell:
Technology has made it viable, now millennials are entering the workforce, people are connecting the two, but it’s just not there.

Jon Windust:
Why do you guys reckon millennials are such a hot topic right now?

Chelsea Forster:
Well, in my opinion millennials are a hot topic because we have a decreasing workforce in Australia and these are the guys that are going to be running our work force. So from the economy perspective we need millennials to be engaged, we need them to be equipped with the skills, we need them to be able to grow our economy as a country; so it’s incredibly important.

Jon Windust:
I also noticed as well that there were some stats recently about the workforce expectations in about 2025-2030. It was going to be a 20% shortage of people for those roles. Even now in the U.S there’s a shortage of skills for the roles that are vacant so if they are having problems with their economy, there are roles there they can’t be filled because there aren’t skilled people to actually fill those roles.

Steve Pell:
My take on this is humans look for simple answers to complex problems, right? Jobs and work is changing so fast and so rapidly that it’s an easy answer to say millennials are the issue when we need to look much, much deeper at motivations and complexity of work. I think it’s innate. We’re always going to see articles and blogs and everything else that try and solve really complex issues in 500 words.

Jon Windust:
I think if you go into a work place, particularly The Foundation for Young Australians, you can sense a sort of different type of culture there. That may or may not be so due to the millennials themselves, or it may be just the culture we’re heading to. But what is the culture like at The Foundation for Young Australians? How is it different to other workplaces that you’ve been in?

Chelsea Forster:
Well, at FYA, we’ve made a deliberate push to create a progressive workplace. We’re trying to emulate what the future of work will look like at FYA. If you want to see a workplace that shows you what other workplaces might look like in five years, then we’d hope to be there now. So what we have provided is an enormous amount of flexibility, a lot of autonomy, a lot of support, a lot of sense of community within the workplace even though they can choose to be there or not to be there.

The attitudes of the people that work at FYA is “work is a thing not a place”. So that makes a big change in how a place feels, so we can all come together but we can work remotely or we can be there collectively as a team. I think that gives it a feel in itself.

Steve Pell:
It’s fascinating that you’re trying to build a workplace that’s five years out from today.

Chelsea Forster:
Yes it’s exciting.

Steve Pell:
It is really exciting, right? Is that a core selling point to people when they are coming and joining the organisation?

Chelsea Forster:
Yes it is and it’s a relatively new thing as part of what we do with young Australians, is to equip them for the workforce of the future.

We’re working with them in programs in their schools, beyond the classroom to what is it going to look like when you get to work? We believe that there are lots of different skills that young Australians need and we’re teaching them in our work. So our workplace, it’s a natural kind of flow that our workplace will be a place they come and see what does it all look like.

Steve Pell:
Do you see that come back as well to benefit older workers?… when you are doing those things for young Australians to equip them for the future of work but it’s also equipping people who have been in the workforce for longer, in ways that they like as well?

Chelsea Forster:
Yes, so people like myself that aren’t millennial. I’m not from the millennial generation, and teaching us how to work with our other generations and the future generations of young Australians. That’s presented a different challenge for our leadership group and for our older workers to understand how to integrate the two. So we’re a bit of a social experiment and you can feel that when you’re at FYA, the energy is different.

Jon Windust:
I kind of get a sense with the millennials that I work with in our team that 1) they love collaboration. But then again I guess we could argue again who doesn’t love collaboration? But I think they’re sort of looking for that in their work and to me they’re also looking for some meaning, some sort of purpose in their work. Steve, as a millennial yourself, what are you looking for out of your work?

Steve Pell:
Look, I think purpose is a really a big part of it for me in terms of people are more and more willing to make trade-offs on compensation for doing things they see as meaningful right now… and then money will come down the track.

That’s really common amongst people I talk to and people I recruit. It’s very easy when I’m recruiting people for businesses that I’m working with, for me to make very clear trade-offs around purpose, meaning and developing your skillset right now for the future.

I think above and beyond everything else, and this is true of me, true of people I recruit in my generation, is development. Having clear development pathways, is the biggest piece.

Jon Windust:
Yes. I like this idea of “The Alliance”, if anyone has heard of this idea called the alliance from Reid Hoffman who was the founder of LinkedIn. He’s got this idea where you create a tour of duty of employment. It’s essentially an agreement with a person that, “We’re going to bring you on board, you are going to stay here for three years and over that time I’m going to lay upfront where we’re going to develop you from a career perspective, and in return for that you give us that set tour of duty.” I love that idea that it’s all agreed to upfront, it’s all transparent and it’s very much a two way street.

Steve Pell:
We were talking about this off camera. It sounds like you guys are actually doing this.

Chelsea Forster:
Yes, we are. Yes, that’s right. We really want to know what you know and how you want to deploy it, and then you can navigate that through our organisation.

We’ll be very clear on our strategic objectives and very clear on the operational objectives for each 12 months. Given that you’ve got the skills and the passion and the will, then go and be part of that team. If that’s where you want to use your skills, go and do it because we know the reality is that in two or three years, you won’t be with us but we want you to be better and more confident and more able than you were when you arrived.

Steve Pell:
I’m really interested in how you sell that to people upfront. Are you having that conversation that says, “You are only going to work here for two years, so let’s talk about how we make that work for you and for us”?

Chelsea Forster:
I think we word it a little bit differently. We talk about our promise to our employees and we have a lot of people on a maximum term contract and a lot ongoing. But we talk about the realities of today’s workforce and so we do acknowledge it upfront, saying, “Well, most people are only in a role for two or three years. What’s that going to look like for you? What do you want this journey to look like?”

Yes, we literally … we really have a thing called ‘Our Promise’ to anyone within FYA, that we will develop them and we will work with them and we will allow them to grow and leave as different, more capable workers.

Jon Windust:
Yes, how are you developing the people when they come on board? What sort of development are you doing with people?

Chelsea Forster:
Most of our development is based around the future work skills. We look at what skills people are going to need in the workforce in the next 20 years and they are the ones that we focus on. So it’s around being enterprising, having a global perspective, appreciating diversity. All of those skills are what we really deploy across our workforce.

Steve Pell:
Interesting, do you performance manage people on those skills as well? Will you assess people’s development?

Chelsea Forster:
Yes, we do, absolutely. We have a very supportive and positive performance management approach because we know that if we tell people that they are not good at things, then without a solution to that, then we will lose them prematurely. It is around if you’re really talented in embracing globalisation in everything that you do, then you can become the person that teaches others about that. People find what they’re good at and what natural skills they have, and then we’ll encourage and showcase it and then they could become the teachers to their co-workers.

Steve Pell:
If I come into your workforce, how do you make me better at embracing globalisation?

Chelsea Forster:
We would work with you for you to have an appreciation of the impact of Asia and the opportunities of being educated and Asia-centric in any sort of business or social enterprise venture that you wanted to have. We have a person that works very closely with Asia and talks about FYA in the region and bringing back those stats of how many people there are. If we think we’ve got a lot of young Australians here, how many young people are there across our region and what does that mean if you put that into your idea or into your career plan?

It’s about exposure. It’s about making people think a little bit bigger and as I often say internally is just lift your eyes and then talk about it again and you’ll have the bigger perspective.

Jon Windust:
It sounds like a very different approach to performance management. It sounds much more in line with something I very much believe in which is agile performance management, a much more sort of forward looking development focused approach.

What are some of the other interesting and sort of different things you’re doing in the performance management and HR sphere?

Chelsea Forster:
I think one of the newer technologies that we’re using and trialling at the moment is Knack which is this idea of gamification and people showing us their skills through playing games and computer games. The games go for three to four minutes and provide us with an overview of what somebody’s talents are and what their Knacks are. Basically it provides some artificial intelligence and each person is then given at the end of the game, 12 to 15 Knacks.

Jon Windust:
Right, it sounds very much like the sort of psychometric approach except it’s sort of a more modern accessible version of that.

Chelsea Forster:
Correct.

Jon Windust:
Have you got any plans or are you already using this in the recruitment process?

Chelsea Forster:
Our plans are to use it in the recruitment process. This really became apparent because we asked everybody in the organisation what their skills were and to upload those onto personal profiles using Cognology. We found it difficult to get people to do that, to tell us what their skills were in their own way. A lot of them didn’t know, they didn’t know whether or not they were proficient in something or whether or not they should say that they are skilled in something.

So when we worked out a way to get them to do it without having kind of tests at work, which would go completely against everything that FYA is, gamification was kind of the obvious answer.

Jon Windust:
Yes, I love that idea. Getting back to recruitment for a moment; gen-Y, what are they looking for in their first role? What are they looking for in a workplace?

Chelsea Forster:
Do you want to answer that? You are one.

Steve Pell:
Look, I think more and more, and again, I don’t think this is an exclusive issue for gen-Ys but they are very much going eyes with your eyes open, this is not a role you’re going into forever. It’s a role that you need to take personal benefit out of. That your perspectives and what you’re after will change over that time, so you’re looking for things that you can grow with.

I still think that with every generation that’s come through the workplace, people going into their first roles still have a lot to learn about themselves right? So I think employers who can help employees learn more about themselves either in that recruiting process or into their first year, two years on the job, really stand to benefit a lot because you get the best out of someone as well.

Chelsea Forster:
Well, I think that from my experience is that we have a workforce that really believes that our role is also to make them thrive. It’s not just about the work but in all aspects of their life. It’s having the flexibility. If you want to do exercise or if you want to study or if you want to volunteer or whatever it is that you want to do as whole person, that we as a work place allow that to happen and allow them to grow and develop in all aspects of their life, not just job function.

Jon Windust:
Yes, lovely.

Steve Pell:
Work-life integration is the term that I use a lot and comes up a lot. I think that selling people on a separation between work and life just doesn’t really work anymore. The more that those two can be integrated and you can be exactly who you are at work in the same way as you are in the rest of your life is what young people want. I think it’s more what everyone wants.

Jon Windust:
I think everyone wants a purpose, right? And part of the purpose is work, it has to be work.

So I think if you can communicate what that purpose is then I think you’re putting yourself ahead of the pack. If you can do that, you’re making it something meaningful.

In our case obviously it’s being able to affect the workplace, what sort of workplace people are actually working in, the culture, what sort of development they get and how well they’ve managed and led.

I think Cognology definitely has a great purpose to offer people as a role. I think if you can communicate that to gen-Y then you’re ahead. Who do you guys think some of the leaders are that when attracting gen-Y and are having some of the great jobs out there for gen-Y?

Steve Pell:
I could come back to the importance in employee brand and that’s the people who are winning this here. In the technology space, Atlassian are destroying it in Australia at the moment in terms of their ability to just be a talent magnet.

Jon Windust:
What is it about technology companies? Why are they talent magnets? Why are they attracting all the gen-Y’s out there and getting all this attention, ending up on the B.R.W top 50 list? What’s driving this?

Steve Pell:
I think it’s exactly the same reasons the same reasons that you guys have picked up on with next five years of work.

Technology companies are the ones who know how to work flexibly because they’ve got the tech to make it happen. They are obviously leading in terms of all those practices that allow that better work-life integration. Because they’ve got better technology to facilitate it, they’re operating four, five years ahead of the rest of the pack.

What are your perceptions there Chelsea?

Chelsea Forster:
Yes, I agree. I think, certainly with technology, that it’s also about the roles of being a developer or a solution architect. You can see that’s it’s a finite piece of work that you actually can do from anywhere, whenever you want to do it.

The type of work that they are doing very much aligns with this: the use of technology, the flexibility, the purpose, using creativity, collaboration working with teams, trial and error, all the things that people want in the workplace, the type of work suits.

Jon Windust:
I’ve got this other idea on this as well. I think it is that because the technology companies are innovating, they have to attract the best talent. So they are forced to find ways to do this. I think that gives the rest of us a big answer on how we actually do this if we look at this guys and how they are attracting the best talent.

Chelsea Forster:
Yes, and they also share, there’s great companies in the states like Treehouse which is an excellent business. They have just removed all managers, so no one has a manager. Basically when you arrive you get a book that says, “You are alone and you either do something or you don’t, and we are all committed to doing something and achieving something, we hope you are too,” and off you go. But they provide all this information, freely accessible to anyone else in the HR profession to wants to run a workforce without management, to see how it works. They write blogs on it so you can listen to weekly updates to where it works and where it doesn’t.

Steve Pell:
It’s an interesting experiment isn’t it?

Chelsea Forster:
Yes.

Jon Windust:
I’ve personally found though that if you give people a lot of autonomy, one of the things I’ve found is that there is a little bit of a pullback point there where people actually do want direction, which I think comes back to leadership as well. So even though people want autonomy, I think they also want leadership as well.

That leads me on to the next point I wanted to talk about with millennials which is that apparently 27% of the leadership workforce now, are actually millennials. How do we actually start preparing these people not just for work, but how do we actually prepare them for leadership roles?

Steve Pell:
How management heavy is FYA? How many managers do you have in your organisation?

Chelsea Forster:
We have really a leadership group of seven people that really is the management of our organisation, so 10% is pretty much where we sit with a solid management structure. Under that, there are support points and groups of people, and so we certainly do have a manager process at the moment and something that we wouldn’t look to alleviate because as you were talking about before, this is often their first or second job. They need some guidance. They need to know what standard practice is and some coaching and development, so that will remain in our workforce.

Jon Windust:
Yes, you must be developing great alumni out there, by the way, the FYA alumni.

Chelsea Forster:
Yes, we are. We call it the FYA family.

Jon Windust:
The FYA family.

Steve Pell:
That’s great, do you bring them back together?

Chelsea Forster:
Yes, we do. We do. They are invited to everything so they remain part of our community on Google plus and so they can keep up to date with what’s happening, which is like our internal notice board. Yes, they remain and can come back and they do, yes.

Steve Pell:
One of my criticisms I guess of Australian employers generally is that they don’t do enough with alumni networks, and that they’re a huge source of value potentially. You’ve got, in some of the big companies, tens of thousands of people working out there who are just treated us they are either on the ship or off, whereas you can kind of be on and off at the same time. I think it’s a big opportunity when we talk about Australian specific HR.

Jon Windust:
Yes, I agree. I think there’s probably going to be a few changes happen in work and one of the ones that may actually happen in work is even if people are moving on more frequently, I think there’s a great chance that they’ll actually come back to organisations as well. So actually having that alumni group, well actually is useful in itself, but being able to draw people back after they’ve had experience in a different places I think there’s a great opportunity there too.

Chelsea Forster:
It’s a fantastic way to engage new people to your organisation, to show them where other people have gone, what the experience has prepared them for, and that storytelling of somebody’s journey to someone who hasn’t started their journey with your organisation yet is enormous. To go over and speak to somebody has been here for three years and still thinks that we’re fantastic, they’ve gone on to do other wonderful things and we’re still really proud of them, so that’s a very solid proposition for your next cohort of workers.

Jon Windust:
What do you think things are going to look like in ten years’ time? We’ve got all these baby boomers retiring and so there’s going to be a shortage of skill, a shortage of people to fill roles. What do you think it’s going to look like for people in ten years’ time?

Steve Pell:
Look, I think we’re saying the workplace change very dramatically. I think the quote I love on that is Bill Gates when he said we always over-estimate technological change in three years and completely under estimate it over 10.

I think whatever we could sit here and guess, it will be dramatically different to that. I think there’s a couple of things we know, technology is going to play a much greater role, I think flexibility again is going to be just critical for everyone to have. But I still think in terms of are we going to see the end of management…

Jon Windust:
No, no.

Steve Pell:
I don’t see that at all. I think there will be shifts but the changes you’re going to see will be probably around the edges of the concept of work.

Jon Windust:
One of the things that really interests me is freelancing and how quickly that’s taking off. It sort of seems to me to suit a lot of people really well. Obviously I think careers are going to stay for probably the majority of people, but I think a lot are going to jump to freelancing. I think that will suit employers and employees because it gives people freedom and it gives them the sort of a chance to focus on a particular set of skills and work with different clients and use those skills and learn things in that process.

Chelsea Forster:
I think one thing that I think about with the leadership of freelancing and leadership of a freelancing workforce, which is what these millennial leaders will need to do, is to have brilliant leadership because they really are going to need to be able to inspire, captivate and take a group of people that are really choosing to be there or not, on that work journey or on that purpose journey for what they’re trying to achieve. When you talk about leadership and those skills are going to be needed in millennials, is I think one of the most … will be the cornerstone of this generation being highly impactful on our economy.

Jon Windust:
Yes, I agree. I think that leadership is going to be super important bringing together disparate groups of people, one group for this project, another for another project. It has to be a really collaborative process and I think that’s really the world of work that we’re moving to. I find that idea great, it really appeals to me. I think it probably does to a lot of people as well and particularly with gen-Y’s.

Steve Pell:
To come back to something that you talked about earlier, around how do you develop millennials for leadership positions… I think a huge piece of this in organisations has to be mentoring. When we go back and talk about wanting development, one of the core things people want is mentors. Structuring those programs to give people the skills to lead from established leaders, I think it’s critical and probably one of the most important ways to develop. What do you guys think about the role of mentoring?

Chelsea Forster:
I agree, I think it’s essential. I think that the exposure to a mentor and the support and the safety of a mentor is something that millennials will certainly seek out particularly as we see them being a little more lone ranger like. That relationship and that connection with someone that can guide and develop them is imperative.

Jon Windust:
I think training is super important for new leaders and I think that’s often sort of missed in a lot of organisations. But after that training point it has to be mentoring and coaching, and the best people to do that are the existing leadership group within the organisation.

I think they need to be backed up with a strong set of behaviours, the thing that I really like about behavioural statements is they’re very simple to understand, short sentences that describe exactly how you go about doing leadership. So to me they are the foundation of coaching and mentoring people toward that, but it has to be other leaders within the organisation doing that process.

Steve Pell:
I think the great thing about mentorship as well is that you get away from this idea that you can train something once a year and have people then go and develop that skill. It’s that constant feedback cycle that really lets people develop and understand, so getting that feedback fast and frequent is critical.

Jon Windust:
Speaking of which, what are some of the performance management practices that you think have just failed, that don’t work with millennials?

Chelsea Forster:
Grading someone twice a year from one to five. I think they don’t care. It’s like, “So you think I’m a three? Good on you.” But settling up beside someone and coaching them on the job and rewarding them and saying, “Well done,” and “Have a go,” and “I believe in you,” and “You can do it,” and giving them the confidence and the room to experiment, and then the quick critique is definitely the way forward over this kind of stagnant discussion once or twice a year.

Steve Pell:
Again, to come back to one of the things I was talking about earlier, I don’t think that works for anyone. You’re the performance management expert here, but …

Jon Windust:
I don’t think it works for anyone either. I’m a big believer in agile performance management and regular check in conversations. I don’t think I’ve done that once or twice a year, performance management conversation since the 90’s… and it’s awful.

Whereas when you’re in a leadership role and you actually implement those regular check in’s, the monthly check in’s, it’s a very rewarding process and it creates a great relationship with the person and just completely gets you away from that once or twice a year conversation which was a really stressful point.

The other thing I like about it as well is just that sort of forward looking development approach which it sounds like you’re really adopting at The Foundation for Young Australians rather than being a sort of backward looking review process.

Chelsea Forster:
We find also that the review … well what we know about millennials is they like lots of feedback and that creates a large expectation on someone that’s managing or leading those people. So to create an environment where you can give feedback to everyone, and Cognology obviously allows us to do that, so you can seek out feedback from your peers, “Hey we worked on that project together. Would you mind telling me how you thought I went?”

So that when it comes to the end of the year, when you’ve got this work force that is changing rapidly and you might have had two different managers, or you’ve got your own body of evidence that you can look back at and say, “How did I go this year? What did the six people that I worked most closely with think about my work performance or where could I get better?” So they can self-direct a little bit on seeking the feedback and then developing their own development plans.

Steve Pell:
I mean just to apply devil’s advocate there. I would argue strongly that everyone likes lots of feedback, it’s just millennials are more comfortable asking for it.

Chelsea Forster:
Yes, potentially. Yes, however, in PWC’s next gen report, that was one of the key differences in the generations. They found that the younger generation really are seeking a more consistent and a higher volume of feedback rather than any kind of a formally staged feedback.

Jon Windust:
I’ve seen some research as well saying that the lack of feedback creates stress, which kind of does make a lot of sense when you think about it. You’re sitting there wondering, “What does my boss think of me? What do other people think of the work that I’m doing?” You can actually understand why that actually does create some stress.

Steve Pell:
It doesn’t lead to a healthy workforce right? When you have, “I’m at this level and now at that level and then on this level.” It’s not the way humans behave.

Jon Windust:
Yes.

Chelsea Forster:
We’re social creatures. Most people come to work wanting to do the best job, wanting to please, there’s not a lot of people that arrive to work each day thinking, “I’m going to do the worst job possible,” so they arrive and so to have someone say, “Well done.”

Steve Pell:
I think that’s a great point, I think that’s a really great point actually.

Jon Windust:
All right, so let’s have a little bit of a talk about gen-Y and social technology because they sort of seem to be the ones driving the need for it, although again you can argue that everyone sort of really appreciates and gets something from social technology. Tell us a bit about how you think it should be used and any areas where you think it should be avoided?

Chelsea Forster:
Yes, so I think that with the millennial generation, they have had technology with them all the time. They’ve always got a device in their hands or very close by. So then to come to a work environment and say, “You can’t use Facebook and you can’t use Twitter and you can’t …” It’s like cutting down their community and cutting down a connection with the rest of their world.

We believe in it. We believe in having it on all the time around you, use it and use it to the benefit of your work and the benefit of your own growth.

I see technology working in our organisation as creating a sense of community and also a sense of pipeline of help and, “Who can I go to ask and can I send them a quick message and ask for help or for guidance or has anyone seen this before?” those sorts of things.

Where we see technology not work for this generation is in the feedback on their own performance from their manager. We know through the research that that is still definitely a place for face-to-face and face-to-face communication rather than it all being …

Jon Windust:
Yes, I think there’s a big opportunity with social tech, isn’t there, that you can recognise people in front of others and so you can have this sort of great recognition culture and share information with enterprise social tech. But there is still very much that need for someone, a leader, to sit down with a person and just face-to-face have the conversation. I think that conversation has always been important and it still is important and the technology doesn’t replace that.

Chelsea Forster:
Yes, I agree.

Steve Pell:
I think that’s kind of the thing that when you … and to your question earlier about what happens in five, ten years’ time, sure we’ll see people in offices less but we don’t expect organisations to never have offices right? You’ve talked about Automattic, which I think is a great example of a company that’s global, multi-billion dollar company, that really doesn’t have a formal office structure.

They don’t have offices. They work remotely the vast majority of the time. They still get together, every couple of months to discuss and to talk about how everyone is going, to work together and build those bonds, so we are social creatures right?

Jon Windust:
Absolutely, yes.

Chelsea Forster:
Yes, and to get together to discuss what you’ve achieved, that sense of celebration can’t be done all the time over social media or where are we going? That inspiring leadership message needs to be standing collectively together. That is always going to be more powerful when you’ve got a group of people in a room for those messages than it being a broadcast video or message.

Jon Windust:
Should organisations be worried about social tech? Should they be worried about people overusing it or using it too much?

Steve Pell:
They should be worried about their employees performance, is my view, regardless of the distractions … There are always distractions. There have always been distractions. There always will be distractions. At the end of the day, for me, and I think I would probably sum up a view of a lot of people of my generation as well, that either someone is performing or they are not, and anything that’s additional or outside of that, it means that you’re not managing them properly. I think if you’re worried about the input rather than the output, I think it is bad management.

Jon Windust:
Yes, I agree. I think if you’ve got a great set of goals, you’re aligning with people in the organisation, organisations purpose, and you’ve got some well written goals, then it’s much easier, that process is much easier because you don’t have to worry that monitoring social media use. What you have to be worried about is whether or not they’re achieving those goals that the organisation wants.

Steve Pell:
It’s also hard. When you walk into … it does go against your first impulse as a manager. I know if I walk into a room and I see someone on Facebook, there’s that impulse to say, “What are you doing?”. You have to check that and question instead, “Am I happy with the output and what I’m getting?” I think otherwise it’s very easy to get into a cycle of managing input.

Jon Windust:
All right. I think that’s a great place to finish for today. Thank you very much for coming in Chelsea and thank you very much Steve, I’ve been fascinated by the discussion. Thank you.

Steve Pell:
Thanks Jon.

Chelsea Forster:
Thank you.