For over 20 years, Max Valiquette has been at the forefront of change and transformation. He is the founder of Youthography, a ground-breaking millennial marketing agency, and a sought-after Fortune 500 advisor who’s helped organizations across sectors and industries embrace innovation, build dynamic teams and workplace cultures, and thrive amongst uncertainty.
Max recently joined us in our boardroom where we asked him your questions about the future of work.
Engaging and Retaining Gen Z
SpSp: What do companies need to know about Gen Z entering the workforce?
MV: That you actually need a strategy for engaging this younger generation in the workplace. What I tend to hear from older employees is that young people don’t understand how hard it is, they don’t really get what the last few years were like, they’re entitled, etc. — who cares? You need this new, young workforce to come and work for you and if you start form a position of “they just don’t get it”, you’re not going to get them.
So, step 1 is to remember this is a critical cohort of our workforce. Step 2 is to understand the differences between this generation and others. A lot of that has to do with digital nativity skill. This is a group that has always grown up with some kind of digital acumen, they understand what technology is, they understand what the Internet is — a lot of them can’t remember a world without it. Understanding that digital nativity is actually a frame of mind as opposed to a skillset is crucial.
Hear more from Max on this topic in the video below. He brings audiences on a deep dive into this new generation entering the workforce in his keynote “Y, Z, Next: Decoding the Most Powerful Generation”.
Building Cultures of Innovation
SpSp: Why is it just as important to be wrong as it is to be right?
MV: I’ve probably never been more excited to have something new to talk about because I’m really passionate about it — and that’s “being wrong”.
One of the earliest lessons we learn when we’re younger is that being wrong is really important, it’s important to have the freedom to be wrong; to try something, be wrong about it, and eventually learn from that and get it right. It’s a critical part of the scientific method and one of the first ways of learning that we learn.
But something happened over the last 10-15 years, perhaps with the rise of social media, increasing polarization, a growing “us vs. them” mentality, where we are more afraid of being wrong than ever before, and I want to stop that because the only way we get to “being right” is by having the freedom to be wrong.
Specific to the workplace, I’m not talking about having the wrong goal, I’m talking about understanding organizational goals and having the freedom to be wrong to get to that end goal where we want to be right. So, my new speech is about that, encouraging a culture of wrongness and helping people understand that there is nothing wrong with being wrong. In fact, if we don’t let people be wrong, we’ll never actually get to what’s right.
In his new keynote presentation, “Why Being Wrong Has Never Been More Right”, Max shows audiences how to harness failure to propel progress forward, and why having the freedom to be wrong builds a culture of curiosity and experimentation — the key to thriving amidst uncertainty.
Watch the video below to learn more:
Teambuilding, Workplace Culture, and the Future of Work
In his keynotes, Max shares the essential elements for constructing dynamic teams and helps organizations of all sizes attract and retain the best and brightest. We asked him a few questions about team-building and what leaders should lookout for in the future of work.
SpSp: Is a four-day workweek in our future?
MV: The four-day workweek is already a reality for many companies. So yes, it’s absolutely possible. It terrifies people for the reason most things terrify people — people are afraid of change. They can’t imagine a world where their business functions properly if here is only a four-day workweek.
Yet, in Canada, lots of people already do this in the summer or they do this with a 4.5-day workweek. The question we should really be asking ourselves, is do we want to do this and how do we make it happen.
Max reveals more in the video below:
SpSp: What is “quiet quitting” and is it really a new phenomenon?
MV: When you investigate what “quiet quitting” really is, it’s people working the mandated number of hours according to their contract and not wanting to go above and beyond during what was a really difficult time. I don’t call that quiet quitting; I call it acting your wage.
The truth is, there has always been and will always be tension between an organization that wants to get as much as it possibly can out of its employees, and employees who are eventually going to say, “I’m doing too much.” But at the best and high performing organizations, that tension is noticed, minimized, and treated with respect on both sides.
So, here’s my real problem with quiet quitting — when we say it, we’re indicating that we’re not the kind of place that the really great employees want to work at, so let’s stop saying it.
Watch the video to learn more about this phenomenon and what it really means:
SpSp: Have companies mishandled the return to office post-pandemic?
MV: There’s no one right answer to this, every workplace is different. But, if you had an employee work at home throughout the pandemic and they did well, you can’t mandate them to return to the office full-time. If you are, you definitely can’t say that it’s critical for people to return to the office because we just worked at home through the most critical time of our lives.
The problem isn’t that you want people to come back to the office, it’s that you’re saying they “must” or “have to”. Like with many things that go into running a great workplace, it’s often not the “what” but the “how”. Are you mandating that people come back to the office or are saying that you’d like people to come? Are you demonstrating a respect for their schedules? Are you recognizing that several people have moved out of the city centres?
People have lived through 2-3 really difficult years and probably managed to be smart, strong, contributing employees over that period of time. We have to treat them like that if we’re going to ask them to come back.
Max reflects more on the post-pandemic return-to-the-office in the video below: