Observations from Under the Saguaro by Christian M. Williams @MyPublicTweeter
ELGL had the good fortune to meet Christian Williams from the City of Goodyear, Arizona at the CPBB conference in August. He impressed us further with his knowledge of local government budgeting and he successfully retweeted all 40 tips that ELGL shared during our CPBB presentation.
This is Christian’s second article; he’s writing about working in Goodyear, and the interesting local government trends and ideas (especially related to budgeting).
You hear it all over the news, in many articles, and throughout retirement communities. Millennials are lazy, entitled, don’t work hard, are too into their technology, and make excuses. You hear about these generational gaps and how our country is doomed because of them. I couldn’t agree less! I believe that our generation, millennials, are on-the-go, motivated, creative, hardworking, tech savvy, and creative in problem solving. There may be some generational gaps, in certain respects, but the gap between expectations and outcomes can certainly be filled.
Deputy City Manager, Wynette Reed, and I have a spirited joke that has been ongoing essentially since I started with Goodyear. One afternoon, in a larger group setting, Wynette made a reference to Bob Hope and Betty <the last name escapes me>. She looked over at me and asked if I knew who they were. I told her that Bob Hope was an airport and laughter erupted. She told me I had homework so I “Googled” it and sure enough it was an airport in California…named after a person. While gaps like these exist, they shouldn’t exist with expectations.
You may remember, from my first column, I referenced my One Year Objectives officially called “First Year Objectives”; those have been extremely helpful over the past year. I want to expound upon them for just a minute so you understand how they have filled the “gap”. When I received word that I got the position of Executive Management Assistant I was extremely excited. On the first of our four day GEO or Goodyear Employee Orientation, Wynette came in, sat down with me, and we went over these objectives. She communicated to me why these objectives were chosen, what they were, and why they were important. She also informed me that we would be checking in on the progress of these objectives over the three month, six month, and year period. I remember taking those objectives and putting them on the top of the massive pile of materials I had collected GEO week; to me it was the most important document I had received.
At many of my previous jobs I never received First Year Objectives. Luckily for me, I was pretty motivated to fulfil the words/concepts in my job description, ask questions, and wasn’t thrown off by “duties as assigned”. I would excitedly go around asking for more tasks and challenges to accomplish. While I still have many of those traits, I find that having a clear understanding of what’s expected of me to be extremely valuable. The City uses the “True Colors” personality test so the “Green” in me (very logical and a thinker) doesn’t want to let anyone down. Objectives keep me accountable and help me avoid those “I didn’t know I needed to do that!” moments. Also, as I learned more about Strategic Goals I could see how I fit into the big picture of the organization. I quickly saw how important my role was to the organization; my objectives aligned with those of the organization. For those of you who think millennials need to feel special just give us a task list that relates to the overall goals of the organization and you can easily check that one off the list. In one-on-ones with my supervisor, we talked about how these objectives were coming along and where I needed support to get them done. Vice versa, we could also talk about where she needed support in hers, it is a team effort after all.
In December, during our Performance Appraisals and Performance Conversations, this organization tasks employees with helping to create their new objectives for the upcoming year. This is where I had the opportunity to challenge myself and receive new challenges from my supervisor. I have heard some of my peers, in other fields, say they are bored or not challenged and thus they feel unmotivated. I know this isn’t just a millennial thing; I have heard these phrases from people 20 to 50 years of age. The annual performance appraisal and conversation timeframe is a great place to address this. It was a time to be real, open, and honest about how you perceive things are going. I am excited for my new objectives and opportunities that have been given to me in this upcoming year; I am again reinvigorated. If you are in an organization that doesn’t do this or you feel unchallenged/burnt-out I would recommend you ask your supervisor if you could start discussing performance, goals, and personal outcomes more often.
I was given a great bit of advice during GEO. Don’t always wait for your boss to bring it up. Sometimes it is incumbent upon you to ask how things are going. Sometimes it is on you to ask for new challenges. Sometimes it is your responsibility to make sure you understood the task correctly. I am lucky to be in an organization that has built these discussions into their culture; you expect it to come up even if you don’t ask for it. I can think of many past colleagues who could have used this to keep them engaged and motivated.
Recently, a GEO reunion was held. A GEO reunion is something every staff member, hired with the City, attends. It is usually held within six months to a year after employment. It is where we check in on how we are adjusting to the organization, how GEO readied us for Goodyear, and it’s a time to dialogue with your supervisor and other staff members hired within the same time period. It was amazing to see the diverse staff members and jobs from across the city all in one room. Some my age, some much older but we all felt the same way while debriefing at the GEO reunion. Some of the key words and phrases taken away from that reunion include: team, customer service (both in reference to internal and external), pride in work and in the organization, highly motivated, energy, positive changes made and sought (empowered), and great talent. Though we are all from different generations it was our Goodyear Employee Orientation, our goals, and those conversations that made it feel as though the “gap” I always hear about was truly an illusion. I have never seen so many people on the same page, comfortable, and truly happy to be at work.
Though I am not an expert on the subject of generational gaps/differences I think a lot of these gaps can be filled with just setting clear expectations, following up on assignments, and being patient. So aside from me needing to find out Betty’s last name, slow down on my mouse clicks, print out a few more documents, scroll less feverishly, and explain what the # trending topic of the day means; there doesn’t seem to be that many generational gaps between me and my non-millennial colleagues. So let’s “take off” and have a little “Teamwork”. #BobHope
We hoped you liked today’s installmant of “Under the Saguaro!” Tweet your reactions to Christian at @MyPublicTweeter and stay tuned for his next column!
Under the Saguaro by Christian Williams
Allow Myself to Introduce Myself… Christian Williams, City of Goodyear, AZ