The famous movie “The Devil wears Prada” was recommended to me by my first ever boss at a time where I was hustling with never ending requests and demands that came in for a management trainee. I remember watching it back then, awed by Andy’s hustle and courage to stick through, it was motivating and inspirational at that time.
Fast forward to 2022, I watched it again. I realized what a toxic work culture that is and how employee wellbeing is not even considered as priority. Things have drastically changed in two decades, HR is taking over putting employees first in terms of experience, learning and culture. The millennial generation is rapidly transitioning to Gen-Z demands on how a workplace should be to suit them. While watching it, so many bells were ringing in my head, there are so many lessons – a young HR professional can learn from this movie.
A good onboarding experience will result in retention and high productivity
Andy is being bombarded with tasks on her first day at work with no training or introductions.
There is absolutely no excuse for bad onboarding experience. There has to be a process where employee is given the job role, introduced to teams and given adequate training and time to learn. Showing them around the office, giving them a glossary if they are from a different industry, and much information and detail for them to transition.
It is necessary to measure onboarding experience after a month or so with a survey to understand if the employee had a pleasant one.
Clear communication between supervisor and employee is mandatory.
Andy is not allowed to ask questions from Miranda, and after every interaction with her boss Andy ends up being confused.
Lack of engagement which ends up with employees resigning or less productivity, mostly due to lack of communication from management. Managers need to give clear outlines of what their expectations are and allow two-way communication where the subordinate can clarify certain areas.
Frequent meetings: stand-up daily meetings, weekly meetings etc are necessary for employee where feedback can be provided for improvement.
A psychologically safe work environment for employees is priority.
Andy experiences bullying, being laughed at her dress sense and even been body shamed.
HR must ensure that each department is psychologically safe and employees should have a mechanism to report to HR if it is not. HR has to monitor and support employees who feel uncomfortable and have regular sessions to make sure employee feels safe and taken care of.
Many HR departments have automated systems where grievances can be captured even complaints about the boss can be shared anonymously for HR to tackle.
Employee wellbeing and work life balance has to be taken very seriously.
Andy’s being used at work in a way where she has no personal life. She struggles to balance her personal life and relationships which are hanging on thread.
Employee burnout should be looked into seriously and the necessary support has to be given to recover. There needs to be clear time-offs for employees and working 24/7 will result in major burnout. Having a difficult and abusive boss also is a key reason for burnout.
HR needs to give sufficient advice and guidance to team heads and managers how not to let subordinates get stressed and overworked and have a process to manage internally.
Employee experience is an area which organisations focus to stay ahead of competition. Unlike a few years ago, many candidates ask employer questions on work culture, employee engagement and
flexibility. Recruiting good people is tough, retaining them during this great recession time is even tougher. HR needs to level up their game because unlike millennials, Gen-Z won’t settle for less.
Spoilers ahead. Not a big action movie fan, but watched the movie because it was my husband’s all-time favourite movie. I was moved, awed and inspired by Maverick, his resilience and clarity of character. Not every day you come across a Maverick in an organisation, but when they come and go: there are so many lessons we can learn from them. Here are few lessons for HR on how to build Mavericks for future organisations.
1. Job roles change, own it and excel in it
Maverick was sent back to Top Gun, not to be a pilot but to train the best young set of pilots towards a deadly mission. Maverick whose passion is to fly, absorbs to his new role without changing who he is but bringing in a lot of clarity and purpose towards the mission. He changes the way he trains, watches them to understand their characters and completely twists the teaching style.
2. Learn the art of training Gen-Z, swing away from traditional styles
The set of pilots are savvy, intelligent and brilliant. They know their worth; they know their game. But they are not ready for the mission – Maverick knows this. He gets them to train in non-conventional ways which includes a dog fight on air. He shows by example with skills how he still can beat them and even lets them choose their punishment for failure.
3. Become a change leader to your team, help anticipate change
Change managers are common, change leaders are hard to build. Maverick leads change and gets the team to anticipate change throughout the mission. When Cyclone challenges Maverick and changes the game plan, Maverick shows that it is do-able and is the only way to survive.
4. Capabilities will differentiate you and keep you ahead of the game
Maverick pulled out the manual for fighter jet and threw it. Everyone in the class knew it by heart, so did the enemy. The enemy didn’t know the capabilities that the pilots have, that was their competitive advantage. Competitors know the industry, the business and they know how to recruit your talent. What they don’t know is what your talent is capable of.
5. Sometimes your contemporary can give you the best advice, take it
Seeing Ice reuniting with Maverick was nostalgic, Ice knew how capable Maverick was and he knew only Maverick can pull it off. But he also knew Maverick’s weakness – his past with Goose, and his present with Rooster. He advices Maverick to let things go, sometimes your contemporary or colleague can give you the best advice because they know you best.
6. Succession planning, wingman is a choice not a necessity.
Everyone needs a second in command, someone to replace the leader, someone who can take on the responsibilities of a leader. Choosing the next best needs to come unbiasedly and whole heartedly. Training the next best is a big responsibility while he keeps the ship afloat, he gets to see how you make decisions and gets to shadow a leader throughout, which is one of the best ways to learn.
Building top talent takes time and effort, but PeoplesHR will make it easier by taking over all your manual HR work so you have time to strategize and focus on your best asset, your people. Interested in what we have on offer? Drop us a message today.