Listening to Everybody’s Voice
“One of the most sincere forms of respect, is actually listening to what another has to say” ~ Bryant H McGill
Emerging professionals (aka Millennials) have been identified as being more self-aware and more caring of the entire world around them. As of 2020, those born in the Millennial years (1981-1996) will be the largest percentage of the workforce (49%), therefore, it is inevitable their views will shape the workplace.
In agreement with the above quote by Bryant H. McGill, I was interested in what emerging professionals had to say about the subject of respect in the workplace. I wanted to simply listen and present their personal perspectives without commentary, in an effort to help employers work beneficially with Millennials, rather than being frustrated or confused.
For my blog, I interviewed 15 enterprising young professionals about their individual viewpoints. The industries represented include: private equity, office technology, law, media consulting/production, large manufacturing, wireless services, education, information services, real estate, healthcare, transportation, management consulting, big 4 tech company, and benefits. Their functions ran the spectrum from human resources to data analysis.
I don’t know how to express the gratitude I feel toward them for sharing their personal opinions with me, however I hope to honor their voices the best I can.
Three universal themes arose from these interviews: 1. Every voice should be heard with all opinions considered – not judged. 2. Information should be fully shared and communicated with the right tone, and, 3. Individuals should feel like they matter as people.
Encouraging Every Voice
The number one request was that every person should be encouraged to use their voice and have it be heard: a message that should be conveyed from senior leadership down. The notion of encouraging every person on a team to voice their ideas/opinions and that those comments be listened to mindfully. Not only did the new leaders value each individual’s voice as being equitable and inclusive, but also helpful to gather different perspectives.
“Everyone has something to say and contribute”.
“I prefer to be heard, understood and my word taken seriously. This is respect in my opinion”.
Setting the Tone of Communication
Another top request was to feel their positions were relevant to the organization regardless of their tenure or pay grade. For instance, when communication comes from top executives or direct bosses, the tone of the message and the timing of when it is delivered are important. There should be consideration and thought reflected in the messaging. And hiring, firing and exit interviews were thought to be barometers to show the true culture and language of the decision makers within the organization.
Equally as important as timing and tone, is transparency. That senior leadership should strive to be open with information from the outset of a project so that everyone is working from the same set of criteria.
“Everything you are working on is deemed to be as important as everything that someone else is working on.
That means no matter who you communicate with, within a day you receive a response from an email or call”
Stressing Awareness and Sensitivity
Sensitivity and cultural awareness rated very high in this group’s ability to feel safe in their organization. They wanted an environment free from judgment regardless of age, pay, culture, professional opinion. One contributor had unconscious bias training at work and found it helpful in getting people to think before they spoke. Another contributor suggested that eye contact be stressed while communicating. No one wanted to feel personally attacked, and if they were, that someone, at least Human Resources, would have their back.
“They can show me their respect in the way they are protecting me. …for instance, if someone is harassing me, I would like that the company reacts quickly to show me they are taking care of the way I am feeling.”
“You always have your co-workers respect no matter the age or level of seniority”
Perhaps you have experienced a workplace that was respectful. Or, maybe you could not realistically see how it could ever be done and therefore it’s a waste of time to talk about it. If an organization and its leadership valued mutual respect, wouldn’t you want to work there? And, if these emerging leaders update how a company does business, couldn’t it be better for you?
“Everyone should feel valued because everyone has a purpose in making a company successful.”
I work with clients everyday who are cultivating more engaged leaders and creating a culture of respect which results in better retention. If you’d like to increase retention in your organization, let’s talk. You can reach me at Susan@SusanGoldbergLeadership.com.