A little less than a year ago, I’ve embarked on the genYus journey into the essence of human interaction and motivation. Part of this journey included a personal tansformation from the role of the manager to the role of the coach. Another part included taking a helicopter view to speak from a place of expertise about intergenerational relations. This meant going to dozens of conferences and through dozens of books (as well as hundreds of articles and research papers).
Since last May, I’ve been co-organizing a TEDx event with a friend (TEDxLouvainLaNeuve). With only 4 months to D-Day, last week we started recruiting for a team of student volunteers to help us out. In other words, I jumped back into the role I had left behind: the manager’s.
The recruitment process we put in place was a reflection of what we (as Gen Y ourselves) expected from a recruiter. We explained our vision, shared passionately what we want to achieve (namelly, to start a community and spread inspiring ideas), clearly stated our high level of demand, told about our live’s stories and then listened to them. No crazy requirements about years of experience, languages spoken or previous work for a “blue chip” company.
The questions we’ve asked to all of them were:
– What do you love to do? (as opposed to What can you do?)
– How will you bring what you love into this project?
– What do you want to personally take away from this experience (and how can we help you get it)?
It is possibly luck but by the end of one day of interviews we had filled all 10 positions with highly motivated volunteers, who will be working on what they love and what stretches them. The best part is that yesterday all of them came and participated with excitement to a 3-hour meeting. They aren’t paid a dime and it was a Sunday afternoon! Who said Gen Y was not a committed cohort?
What made this recruitment and meeting a success? Trust and belief.
We’ve showed interest for the human beings they were, shared parts of ourselves, created a space where everyone’s ideas are welcomed and disclosed confidential information. My ego would like to think they came for us but, as Simon Sinek elegantly puts it, in truth they came because “they believe what we believe”.
Given the 10-month hiatus, I was worried before the meeting of not being enough of a manager. It is easier to be the expert that dissects human interactions, the consultant, sociologist or psychologists taking notes behind a glass wall than it is to be the man in the arena, the one whose every word and act has the potential to generate an impact inside the group.
Will I be able to keep this team engaged and committed through all the hardships? Will I be error-free after reading and writing so much about Gen Y? I sincerely doubt so! But I’m convinced that as long as trust and belief are present, we will be able to advance and grow together, both as individuals and as a team.
More than the conferences, the books, the gourous and the experts stopped in time, dare to face the challenges of leadership with an open heart. By doing so, you’ll learn more about people than any of them can teach you.
What challenges are you facing in your work today that no book can help you with?