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Rob Evans

Homeserve

Senior Client Manager

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Book Review: 90 days 90 ways: Onboard young professionals to peak performance

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As a result of today’s changing working practices and economic requirements, many employers are striving to accommodate the needs of four generations of workers:

  1. Traditionalists born up to the mid-1940s
  2. Baby Boomers to the mid-1960s
  3. Generation X to the late 1970s
  4. Generation Y or Millennials in the 2000s (which will comprise the largest chunk of the working population by 2016).
 
But the danger is that, if we interact with the various generations by applying the style, ethic, knowledge or judgement (an important one) that we grew up with and have since applied to our own work, career and leadership approach, we could end up emphasising our differences rather than our similarities.
 
Moreover, given the current economic environment, the pressure on HR and line managers to provide a timely return on recruitment is high, which means that it is necessary to ensure that new recruits settle in and produce demonstrable results as quickly as possible.
 
This is nowhere more true than in relation to ‘Generation Y’. Therefore, any HR professional or manager who is keen to lead today’s Millennials more effectively should pick up this book.
 
The author is a ‘millennial’ herself and is an in-demand speaker, trainer, member of the International Coach Federation and media personality who has made her mark on the US business world at least.
 
Alexia Vernon has written a comprehensive guide on how to engage and develop young professionals in that important (if somewhat arbitrary) first 90 days of employment with a new company.
 
The book is divided into 10 chapters that cover nine strategies for providing an effective induction programme for your Millennials. It also offers 90 techniques to build such a programme and help managers develop an appropriate leadership style. These are most of the chapter headings to give you a flavour:
 
  1. Create a knockout day one
  2. Give them what they need to know to succeed
  3. Integrate them into your workplace culture
  4. Build high-impact communicators
  5. Ensure a return on your expectations
  6. Keep their focus on their focus
  7. Develop impeccable customer service skills
  8. Grow employees who create company calm
  9. Inspire great performance.
 
Reviewer’s Rating
 
There were some downsides to this book. Firstly, there was the American vocabulary (I mean, if something happens more frequently than sometimes, do you ever say ‘oftentimes’?). Secondly, I had to get past the need to look up US business references and terminology (what is a 401k?).
 
But I still urge you to persist because, in fact, I liked this book. I liked it a lot. Vernon, a former Miss Junior America, has an engaging writing style (vocabulary aside). It almost reads like a light-hearted conversation or transcript from one of her keynote speeches and, for me, that helped.
 
I haven’t felt the need to pick up a pencil and scrawl ‘absolutely! so true!’ in the margins of a book for ages. But when you do, you know it’s hitting the mark and offering some home truths or just plain old ‘light bulb’ moments.
 
I think that the work’s success comes from dispelling the stereotypes and misconceptions around Millennials to replace them with facts based on the author’s own experience, insights and expertise (without making you feel lectured to or patronised).
 
Trusting the process that she recommends will pay dividends and her suggestions for using hypothetical or role-play scenarios also helps to embed her key points.
 
A big plus for me, however, was the book’s structure. Firstly, despite what the title implies, it is not set out in chronological order, but because strategies and techniques will overlap, there are suggested timeframes for introducing them.
 
Although some people may be put off by the fact that 90 days of activities aren’t mapped out in this way, personally I think it adds to the book as each chapter focuses on an individual strategy and how it will support your plan. Reading a 90-day diary or plan template would have driven me to distraction.
 
Secondly, each chapter concludes with ‘Tweet Size Takeaways’, providing 140-character bullet points in a summary box that is clear and effective in providing a quick overview of each chapter.  
 
The truth is that Millennials are our next generation of leaders, but will be happy to change jobs and employers frequently to further their career, feel suitably challenged and motivated and ensure a positive work-life balance.
 
Moreover, they will be more attracted to employers that take their corporate and ethical responsibilities seriously and that are prepared to reward their skills and loyalty.
 
Even if you believe only some of the above, be prepared to pick up this book with an open mind. It might reveal as much about you and your own preconceptions as about Generation Y.
 
  • This book was reviewed for us by Rob Evans, a senior client manager at Homeserve, which provides emergency home insurance cover and repairs.
  • If you’d like to see a film, TV or book review of your own in print, please either send it to the editor at [email protected] or post it directly to our blogs section at www.hrzone.co.uk/blogs based on the format above.
  • We also have a book club area, which provides a list of possible works for review too – all you have to do is email the editor as above, have the book of your choice sent out to you and we’ll publish the review for the rest of the community to read when you’re done.
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Rob Evans

Senior Client Manager

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