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As a new generation continues to evolve the traditional workplace environment, employee needs and expectations are shifting. To be successful, it is more important than ever for companies to treat employees like “grown-ups,” play to their strengths and set standards employees want to live up to.

First, business leadership and managers need to establish an environment where questions and requests for help are respected and encouraged. To achieve the best results from employees, it is important they know asking for help isn’t viewed as a weakness but a training opportunity to strengthen their skills.

Managers must also recognize that people learn in very different ways. Some are more visual, and some are more audible, while others are more physical. Employees should be aware of their own learning style and the changes they’ll need to make to adapt to a new culture. However, individuals can’t always figure it out on their own. As such, a vital component of building a strong culture is actively listening in order to better understand your employees.

To help develop an employee, genuine feedback that is constructive, not critical, is required. If employees know their manager genuinely cares about them, most welcome feedback, which should come as regular conversations over time. If an employee gets to a review and is surprised by anything, the manager has done a poor job of supporting that person’s development.

Business leadership, managers and HR need to work as partners to ensure they are serving as resources to help align employees with appropriate opportunities for their respective skill sets. It is a delicate balance to temper the “what needs to be done” with the “why it needs to be done,” while recognizing the differences of employees and their strengths. Businesses must be in tune with the people elements of performance, not just the overall computer output of performance.

If a company invests energy into supporting the success of its employees, it will be rewarded time and again by the employee’s investment of energy into the success of the company.

Michele Cohen, SVP Human Resources

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