Friday, June 23, 2017

The Kids Are Alright

I recently wrote a series of posts detailing the advice I give to my young team members on everything from leadership to how to navigate the work place.  And while I feel that I have a lot of knowledge to share with them, I also truly believe that these young people--aka millennials--have a great deal to teach me. In fact, over the last couple of years I have been fortunate enough to work side-by-side some young team members that have helped me continue to develop my own hard and soft skills.

Here’s what I have learned:

The Value of Connection
It cannot be said too many times: embracing technology is important. Unlike the folks in my generation, my young team members have practically been surfing the web since they were in diapers. They have an intuitive and instinctive way with technology. They not only understand its value in this connected world, but they are willing to share that knowledge at the drop of a hat.

I have an amazing young team member with whom I work on many projects, including all of the organization’s digital presence. Through her, I have not only learned a tremendous amount about the ways in which we can use technology to connect with our patients, but I have been reminded of the importance of connecting with others where they are, with messages most meaningful to them. This approach to communication is something the health care industry will continue focusing on and I am now aware of just how much technology can help shape that. Whether it is connecting with someone on Linkedin, or engaging with them in a meaningful (online) conversation, I now have a better understanding of how to harness technology to deliver a message that inspires others to engage in the work we are doing.

Spread the Word
Just as I have been amazed by the ease and dexterity with which my young team members grasp all the technology available, I am equally impressed with their willingness and enthusiasm to share what they know with me and other team members. I can’t tell you the number of times they have directed me to a computer screen or phone and showed me something new as well as made a case for how we could use that new information to advance our work at the medical center.

I think a hallmark of this generation is their collaborative spirit. They enjoy working with others and value easy and open lines of communication. They don’t seem to have any interest in adhering to the confines of a strict organizational structure, but instead want to bring everyone into a room and figure out how to get the work done. They are not afraid to talk to the CEO just as they are willing to forge a relationship with the person answering the phones. They understand the value in collaboration and have an entrepreneurial spirit, which means they are willing to take risks to get the job done. In addition, if they don’t know something, they are quick on the draw to figure it out.

The Need for Speed
I know many of my contemporaries often shudder at the speed at which our young colleagues operate. But, the reality is that in today’s workplace, as technology has enabled us to get more done and more done faster, running at the same pace as my young colleagues is critical to my organization’s success. And while sometimes you need to remind them about not sacrificing quality for quantity, being both nimble and quick are paramount to success.

Work Hard, Play Hard
Like my contemporaries, I have worked incredibly hard since the day I left college, putting in 60 to 70 hours-a-week for most of my career. I don’t say that for any other reason than that it is the truth. I love what I do and I know that I need to put in the time to get the results I want. The downside is that I probably have not taken as much time as I probably should have to enjoy things outside the office.
And while my young team members work incredibly hard and are laser focused, they also realize the importance of that elusive work-life balance. I think they grew up watching their own working parents stressed out and missing time to enjoy life, and they want something different.
For them, it is about the flexibility to do both—work hard and play hard. They are willing to put in the hours, but they want to do it on their schedule. For example, they are willing to stay up late finishing a project in order to makeup for the time they took to run a 5k earlier in the day. As a result, they seem healthier and less stressed. And there is something to be said for that.

For me, the best part of my work is the time I spend doing it with others. Each day, I learn a tremendous amount from my fellow team members. This is especially true of my young team members. They have a great deal to share and an enthusiasm that I find to be contagious. Working with them makes me better and that is all I can really ask for. As they say, the kids are alright.

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