Knowing what's important to you makes it easier to decide "what's next" for you. Knowing what's important to others makes it easier to persuade them to do what you need them to do, to give them meaningful recognition, and to communicate your ideas in a way they will understand.
I often work with executives who are confused about which of many possible next steps makes the most sense for them. As long as they are looking only at the next step it's often impossible to decide which to choose. Once we sort out what's really important to that person, however, the choice becomes clearer. My job is to periodically remind them of the core motivators we have discovered and ask them which next step seems to most honor those motivators.
On the other hand, my business owner clients sometimes encounter an employee with whom they just can't seem to connect. Rather than fire that person and try to find someone else for the job, a bit of understanding about values and motivations might be just what the doctor ordered.
Here are a few tools to help you sort out what's important.
Lately the issue of how to motivate and lead the newest crop of college graduates (the millennials, I believe they are called) has been top of mind for some of my baby boomer clients. And I've had the chance to talk with a few 20-somethings who are struggling with how to work with us older folks.
This is an important thing to get right. There are far fewer of these young workers than there were when we baby boomers graduated from college. Competition will be stiff for the really good ones. If you want to attract and retain the best, you will want to know more about what floats a 24 year old's boat.
Wanting to learn more myself, I turned to LinkedIn and asked, "If you are 20-something, what would you advise a 50-something manager about how to help you engage in the organization, flourish and contribute?" Here's what I learned.
In the meantime, I've found something to disagree with in Drucker's book. That's unusual. Generally, Drucker's writings hit the mark for me. I don't know that I've ever before disagreed this strongly with something he wrote.
Here's the quote that got me:
"Meetings are by definition a concession to deficient organizations."
Two of my favorite bloggers, Phil Gerbyshak and Steve Roesler have been talking about how to discover what job candidates are passionate about.
Phil suggests asking the candidate what she is passionate about, to see how excited she gets. Phil's idea is that you want to hire someone who can actually get excited about something.
Steve agrees that "simply finding out if someone can 'get passionate' about a topic is telling." He adds the step of asking the candidate, "How would you see that kind of excitement carrying over into your work."
Here's a third way to use a candidate's passion to discover a bit more about what makes her tick.
[Updated March 2, 2008 with notes from Time Magazine's March 10th edition. Updates are marked with "*"]
Two blog postings last week got me thinking about hiring decisions. Eric Brown asserted that we ought to "...hire the best person you can regardless of the number of years of experience..." On the same day, Growing Business Link carried a brief piece extolling the virtues of the generalist.
So the question is, should you hire for very specific experience, or should you hire a generalist who has proven her ability to lead and to learn?
People don't bring their hearts and souls to a business that exists solely to make money for its owners. According to research by Amy Wrzesniewski, as reported in 12: The Elements of Great Managing (Wagner and Harter, Gallup Press, 2006), people want to work for an organization with a higher purpose - a mission that means something to them. And those same people want to understand how what they do individually contributes to the larger organizational mission. Fail to provide that mission, or fail to provide a connection from each employee to the mission, and you will fail to build a great company.