I have been speaking on Millennials and the generations in the workplace for nearly 10 years now. And I can remember back in 2008 when there were just a handful of Millennials in the audience. Today, my audiences are filled with people 35 and under and the number of Millennials in the workplace continues to increase. This New Workforce is close to half of the US workforce and they are shaking things up and changing the world of work. It is important that we understand this dynamic group and move forward. We are discovering that Millennials are seeking a multi-dimensional lifestyle that satisfies both their work and personal lives. They are definitely impatient and want to proceed along their career paths more rapidly than Boomers and even Gen Xers.
Meet Millennials where they are!
Today you have to meet Millennials where they are if you want to succeed. Yes, it does take more energy, but if you invest the extra time, you’re more likely to keep them in your organization and grow their talent. We must take a look at the workplace through their perspective in order to understand what they are about. The bottom line is that forcing them to conform to your way will only push them away.
Millennials are the New Workforce
What motivates Millennials?
To understand what motivates Millennials and how to work with and manage them, you need to consider what they value:
Challenge – they want to work on demanding projects with an engaged team that cares about the outcome, embraces complexity, and seeks disruptions.
Learning – they want to gain knowledge from a variety of tasks, so they can grow their careers quickly.
Career goals – they want to be able to see their future and their career path in your organization.
Feedback – Millennials want feedback on how they are doing, and they want to hear it often.
Techno 24/7 – they want the ability to leverage technology when working—anytime/anyplace.
Tap into Social Platforms – Millennials are social beings; use social platforms to grow your organization’s employee brand.
Results Oriented Flexibility – they want to be evaluated on their finished work—not on how, when, or where the work is done.
Transparency – Millennials want to know how their performance will be measured. They like structures and systems, and they want to understand by what metrics they will be judged.
Access – they want open and constant communication from their boss (and their boss’ boss, and so on –
Social Interaction – Millennials want to have friends at work, and they want the workplace to be a pleasant and social place. They prefer to work on teams rather than as individuals. So, If you are excited because you have one Millennial on your team, wake up! They may not be there next month.
This is the iGeneration
In addition to iPhones, iPads, and iTunes, Millennials could be called the iGeneration as they revere technology and the spotlight. Millennials’ parents told them they were special, and they believed it! It’s important for this generation to stand out and celebrate their uniqueness.
Millennials tend not to look at their first job as their final career. Many younger employees consider their work “something to do between weekends” and aren’t thinking about climbing the corporate ladder. The more focused Millennials have a self-centered work ethic and are in search of a career path. If you are working with them, show them where they fit into your organization, take the time to show them a career path and open their eyes to the opportunities in front of them and in other departments.
The biggest challenge for any organization is to be open and willing to make a shift. It must bend to accommodate the Millennial mindset. Of course, the need for young talent is enormous. Competition is fierce to recruit and retain the best talent. Organizations unable or unwilling to make the shift will pay dearly for their inflexibility. Millennials have the ability to transform the disruption of the workplace into profit for your company. First, however, your managers and marketers must be willing to adapt and change to fit their needs.
There are no quick and dirty tips when it comes to managing and Millennials in today’s workplace. Millennials, for those of you living under a rock, are individuals born after 1980 and particularly those now leaving college. The key to successfully managing this generation begins with understanding them. They look at their world, lifestyle, and work very differently than the generations preceding them do. The unpopular news is that you have to meet Millennials where they are. Yes, it does take more energy, but if you invest the extra time, you’re more likely to keep them in your organization and grow their talent. The bottom line is that forcing them to conform to your way will only push them away.
Workplace expectations that Millennials have include:
■ Inclusion—They want to work with positive people and to be treated with respect and asked for their input.
■ Challenge—They want to work on demanding projects with an engaged team that cares about the outcome.
■ Learning—They want to gain knowledge from a variety of tasks so they can grow their career quickly.
■ Career goals—They want to be able to see their future and their career path in your organization.
■ Techno 24/7—They want the ability to leverage technology to work—anytime/anyplace.
Nearly half of all Millennials say they can’t live without the Internet, according to a recent study by The McCarthy Group, a marketing consulting agency. Target ad dollars there, not toward print media, which is read by less than 10 percent of Millennials.
■ Results oriented—They want to be evaluated on their finished work, not on how, when, or where the work is done.
■ Honest authentic leadership—They want transparency about compensation and what it takes to get ahead. (If you’re advertising to Millennials, watch out! Eighty-four percent do not trust traditional advertising, according to McCarthy.)
If you want to understand the psychology of Millennials, consider these clues:
Tech Matters, But Relationships Matter More
High Tech- High Touch – Millennials are known for their love of technology, texting, and connecting online, but did you know that they also value clear communication, an understanding of expectations, and authentic relationships.
Want to Interact Directly and Often with Their Managers and Coworkers
They want to work in a friendly place where they feel a sense of acceptance and enjoyment in the workplace environment. They want to identify with the company’s core values and work with people who share their priorities. They are very willing to leave if the company’s purpose does not align with their own values. Anything less would mean they are not individually authentic and therefore cannot relate to managers and fellow team members in an authentic way.
This Is the I…I..I.. Generation
We are in the age of personal blogs, websites, selfies, YouTube videos Blab, and Perescope! It’s important for this generation to stand out and celebrate their uniqueness. They’re proud of their individuality and look for ways to express themselves. Besides online and social, it can be seen in their tattoos, piercings, hair color, and dress. An astute manager helps Millennials balance their need to be unique and still be in balance with the organization’s needs and brand. Achieving this goal may take some creative thinking. In addition to being individualistic, millennials understand the value of teams. They are committed to their units and to the company. However, their definition of commitment has changed and doesn’t include sacrificing health or putting up with a work/life balance that is out of whack. Commitment to them means good business outcomes for both the company and the clients of the company.
Millennials Are Restless for Career Results
Not all Millennials look at their first job as their final career. Many younger employees consider their work “something to do between weekends” and aren’t thinking about climbing the corporate ladder. The more focused Millennials have a self-centered work ethic and are in search of a career path. If you are working with them, show them where they fit into your organization, take time and show them a career path, and open their eyes to the opportunities in front of them and in other departments. How you manage that sort of talent and how you deal with their expectations is very different from what’s been done in the past. As a company leader, you can find it frustrating to manage Millennials.
The biggest challenge for any organization is to be open and willing to make a shift.
It must bend to accommodate the millennial mind-set. Of course, the need for young talent is enormous. Competition is fierce to recruit and retain the best talent. Organizations unable or unwilling to make the shift will pay dearly for their inflexibility. Millennials have the ability to transform disruption of the workplace into profit for your company. First, however, your managers must be willing to adapt and change to fit their needs. Are you up for the challenge?
I have been speaking on “Generations in the Workplace” for nearly 10 years. And a few short years ago, there were just a handful of Millennials in my audiences.
Today my audiences are filled with people 35 and under as the number of Millennials in the workplace continues to swell. Recently, Pew Research released the news that more than one-in-three American workers today are Millennials (i.e., adults aged 18 to 34 in 2015), and furthermore this year they surpassed Generation X to become the largest share of the American workforce.
By 2017, half the U.S. workforce will be Millennials and they are shaking things up as they change the world of work. We are discovering that Millennials seek a multi-dimensional lifestyle that satisfies both their work and personal lives. They are a bit impatient and want to proceed along their career path more rapidly than Boomers and even Gen Xers ever did.
So,I decided to write a post helping Millennials as well as Boomers and Gen Xers speed up their career advancement
Reality bites … and the reality is that today there are still powerful Unwritten Rules in every organization that stand in the way of your success. These are the Unwritten Rules that must be addressed for career advancement. My goal in this post is to help not only Millennials but all generations understand advancement strategies and recognize opportunities to make key decisions about their career options.
Here are my suggestions for conquering the Unwritten Rules:
Be Observant: Begin a new job or new department or team by closing your mouth and opening your eyes and ears. Observe—how things get done. Your workplace success requires a deep understanding of how the organization or new team functions and how decisions are made. Be fully aware of the politics and notice where the political landmines exist. Political know-how (the unwritten rule) is important—and those who fail to develop such skills are often the ones who get left behind.
“You can observe a lot by watching.” —Yogi Berra
Discover: Now that you understand your organization find out where you fit into the big picture. Every organization has a culture that sets the tone for the types of people who are hired. You need to know why you were hired, where you fit into the organization, and how your superior sees your career path in the organization.
Share your Goals: Speak up and effectively communicate your career goals, your ideas, desired assignments, and when the time is right, ask to be considered for promotion.
Build your Relationshipsand Grow your Circle of Influencers: Start your list of 25 people you admire, people you can learn from, leaders, gatekeepers, and people in your organization who have enthusiasm and ideas. Then join your organizations, formal and informal networking groups, and, as Keith Ferazzi once said, “Never eat alone.” Make it a point of having lunch with members of your team and those in your circle of influence.
“Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.” —Eleanor Roosevelt
Be a Giver: Figure out how to cultivate your list of 25 and grow the relationship BEFORE you ask for advice or a favor. Share your talents (perhaps in technology) and be open to teaching others.
Increase your visibility: Volunteer to give a presentation! Did that scare you? Do your homework—practice, practice, practice, and make it a great one. Become known and get involved.
Take pride in how you show up. Although we are seeing a more flexible work trend—dress still matters! How you dress for work is even more complicated today than years past. The casual dress trend combined with today’s increased focus on “snug-fitting” clothes makes it clear that deciding how to dress for work takes some thought and preparation. Every business has a culture and every culture has a costume. Make sure your day-to-day outfits fit your company’s look and feel … and are “company appropriate. Some professional cultures still require suits while others, such as the tech cultures, are more relaxed and you may even get by with a grey hoodie … if you are Mark Zuckerberg. Be mindful of the image you want to project at work with clients and peers, and choose outfits based on cues from those you admire around you.
“Remember, whatever you do at work, no matter how small it is, has your signature on it! Make it clear,bold, & easy to read!” Karen McCullough
What unwritten rule have you discovered? Can you share examples where you have turned your discovery into opportunity? Please share your thoughts below
Many of you know I speak around the country on the subjects of Generations in the Workplace, Change and Rebranding, and Generational Opportunities. A few weeks ago I returned home from an event where the team who booked me was under the impression that my 45-minute presentation would give them the quick and easy steps in “How to Manage Your Millennial.” The director said that these young kids are a huge interruption in his day… and that got me thinking!
Interruption- an abrupt occurrence that interrupts an ongoing activity
Are they an interruption or a wake-up call to the future?
There is no silver bullet when it comes to managing Millennials. AKA Generation Y.It’s a bit more complicated than that. The key to successfully managing this generation begins with understanding them.They view the world, lifestyles, and work very differently than the generations preceding them. The unpopular news to previous generations is that you have to meet Millennials (Gen Y) where they are—and, yes, it will take more energy, but if you invest the extra time, you are more likely to keep them and their talents in your organization. Forcing them to conform to your way will only push them out, and they will be quick to leave.
Here Are Some Gen Y Expectations that are changing the world of work:
• Work with positive people, to be treated with respect , and to be asked for their input—it’scalled inclusion.
• Work on challenging projects with an engaged team that cares about outcomes.
• Gain knowledge from a variety of tasks, so they can grow their career faster.
• See the route to their future and their career path in your organization.
• Ability to leverage technology work—any time/any place.
• Evaluation on work product—not how, when or where the work is done.
• Need transparency about compensation and what it takes to get ahead.
Hey…I want these things too~
Millennials are known for their love of technology, texting, and connecting online. But did you know that they also value clear communication and authentic relationships, along with a need to have an understanding of expectations? Millennials wants to interact directly and often with their managers and coworkers.
In addition, they want to work in a friendly place where they feel a sense of acceptance and enjoyment in the workplace environment.They want to identify with the company core values and work with people who share their priorities. They are very willing to leave if the company purpose does not align with their own values.Anything less would mean they are not being individually authentic, and therefore cannot relate to managers and fellow team members in an authentic way.
Isn’t That Special!
Millennials were told by their parents that they were special, and they believed it!It is important for this generation to stand out and celebrate their uniqueness. They are proud of their individuality and look for ways to express themselves, which previous generations see expressed as tattoos, piercings, hair color, and dress. An astute manager will help Millennialsbalance their need to be unique and, yet, still be in sync with the organization’s needs and brand.This may take some creative thinking.
Show Me My Career Path
Let’s be realistic. Not all Millennials look at their first job as their final career. Many younger employees consider their work “something to do between weekends,” and are not thinking about climbing the corporate ladder.
But, the more focused Millennials (high potentials) have a self-centered work ethic and are in search of a career path. If you are working with the “High Potentials,” show them where they fit into your organization. Take the time to show them a career path and open their eyes to the opportunities available in your organization in all departments.
“This Millennial generation is not just looking for a job, they’re not just looking for salary and financial benefits, they’re looking for skill development, they’re looking for mobility, they’re looking for opportunities to acquire different skills and to move quickly from one part of an organization to another. How you manage that sort of talent and how you deal with their expectations is very different from what’s been done in the past.”
—Dennis Nally, PricewaterhouseCoopers HR Director
Managers Need a Big Dose of Self-Awareness
I am listening to my audiences and what I am hearing is that managers are frustrated.They don’t want to spend time training the new hires and feel that they are a huge interruption in their day.They just expect them to know.In fact, one person said if they have to train someone, they aren’t worth hiring.
The biggest challenge for organizations is to ask themselves are they open and willing to make a shift.If so, they must bend to accommodate the millennial mindset or lose their talents, which are considerable.
That said, the need for young talent is enormous.Competition is fierce to recruit and retain the best talent.Organizations unable or unwilling to make the shift will pay dearly for their inflexibility.
Millennials ( I am now calling them Generation Interruption) have the ability to transform disruption of the workplace into profit for your company.But first, your managers must be willing to adapt and change to fit their needs. Are you up for the challenge?
Then you need to decide if your company culture can adapt and move ahead.Can your organization get out of the default mode and try new things to meet the needs of this new talented generation of Millennials who are going to carry us into the future?
Southwest Airlines Taught me the True Meaning of Inclusion! Thanks Ellen, Jeff, Gary, Liji, and the whole SWA team. You walk your talk.
I travel across the country speaking on change and generations in the workplace and I can assure you that there is no silver bullet when it comes to managing and marketing to Millennials—people born after 1980 and especially those now leaving college. The key to successfully managing—and marketing to—this generation begins with understanding them. They look at their world, lifestyle, and work very differently than the generations preceding them do. The unpopular news is that you have to meet Millennials where they are. Yes, it does take more energy, but if you invest the extra time, you’re more likely to keep them in your organization and grow their talent. The bottom line is that forcing them to conform to your way will only push them away.
Workplace expectations that Millennials have include:
Diversity training can be uncomfortable for many of us because we have a fear of either being judged or seen as judging others. Even popular and forward thinking television shows reveal our discomfort with the subject. Although it’s hysterically funny and a bit over the top, this episode of The Office, shows how totally off track perceptions of diversity and the experiences of others appear.
Both Saturday Night Live and Jerry Seinfield TV shows have been called out for their lack of diversity. SNL’s absence of a black female cast member on the show since Maya Rudolph left, and Jerry uses the defense “Funny is the world I live in…I have no interest in gender or race…Are you making us laugh or not?”
The diversity challenge goes way beyond your company’s legal obligations to comply with legislation for equal opportunity and non-discrimination. A diverse workforce has lower turnover, better employee morale, higher sales and increased profits.
When it comes to living out diversity, the truth is, we find it much easier to simply keep ourselves surrounded by people like us even though, the benefits of a diverse workforce are HUGE!
Truth One – Where there is Diversity there is profit!
Study after study proves diversity adds to the bottom line. In fact, way back in 2009, a study was published in the “American Sociological Review”. When the researchers compared the workplaces with the most diversity to those with lowest levels of racial diversity, the workforces with a mix of races had 15 times more sales. That’s impressive…and we are only talking about racial diversity in this study.
True diversity is not that simple. It is much more than a mixture of races and genders. It encompasses ethnic groups, age, personality type, cognitive style, ability, tenure, education, lifestyle, organizational function and a whole host of other things.
“Strength lies in differences, not in similarities”
~ Stephen Covey
Neil Lenane is Business Leader Talent Management with Progressive Insurance. He is quoted as saying, “If you do not intentionally include, you unintentionally exclude.” He says the company does not see diversity as a program. Instead it is a cultural movement with measurable results. The team is able to overcome inhibitions and apprehensions to become more innovative. With innovation comes the ability to better understand customer needs.
As a bonus, he believes this core principle allows the company to cast a wider net to reach the best talent too. This is a claim you will often hear from companies who have successfully implemented diversity into the company culture.
Diversity brings profits in the television industry too. Although many see the entertainment industry to be liberal and progressive, true diversity in this industry is in its infancy. Data from ratings shows the highest-rated dramas and comedies were shows with 41 to 50 percent Black/Latino/Asian casts and had a median household rating of 5.84. Shows casting the least diverse mix had a median household rating of 3.79. So, this season we can look for shows like Blackish, Christela, The Goldbergs, and the newest featuring an Asian-American family, Fresh Off the Boat to prosper.
Truth Two: Diversity can be Messy
With all this data supporting the fact diversity is a profitable undertaking, why do we still need to talk about it? The bottom line truth of bringing diversity into the workplace is uncomfortable and it’s challenging.
Newer companies begin the hiring process with an intentional focus on incorporating diversity into the company culture. It is one reason why many new start ups are making higher profits. When your company is large and well established, diversity is a bigger challenge. Here is why:
Communication Barriers: When the workforce is made up of people with different perceptions, cultures and native languages it can often spiral into ineffective communication. Team members may be confused, have trouble working as a team and eventually lead to low morale.
Resistance to Change: In every established company you will have employees who refuse to accept change. The mentality of “we’ve always done it this way” destroys any new ideas and stops progress in its tracks.
Leadership Weaknesses: Having a workshop about diversity does not prepare the leadership for managing a diverse workforce. Although they may be armed with assessment data of employees, creating an implementation plan for their particular team is no small task.
Sad to say, exclusion is a human instinct. People tend to cluster in tightly knit groups because they want to be with others who think like them. Gender diversity often falls prey to this bias. Men, who dominate the upper management positions, tend to spend time together casually. They may all go to lunch together for example. Asking the upwardly mobile female to join them may feel uncomfortable to everyone involved. Yet, relationships are deepened, business is discussed and decisions are made in these informal encounters.
Formal mentoring can be an effective way to address the subtle prejudices that sabotage diversity efforts. Mentors provide advice, feedback and career coaching , and almost no one is blatant about their discriminatory attitudes. It shows up in subtle habits that are harder to diagnose and very hard to cure.
The next step after mentoring is sponsorship. Sponsors are advocates in positions of authority who use their influence intentionally to help others advance. Both are important to advancement as employees navigate the workplace and earn opportunities for growth.
Truth Three: Your Brain is to Blame
Even when a change of habits is life or death, humans are resistant to making drastic changes. Studies show that about one out of nine patients who undergo coronary bypass surgery actually changed their habits. Although the number of studies to support lifestyle changes is abundant, these patients settle back into their familiar lifestyle and took their chances.
If people won’t change their behavior to save their own lives, how can we expect them to change their work habits just because it will make them happier, more innovative and provide massive profits to the company where they work?
Here is the scientific answer: the interplay between working memory and focused attention are at odds with each other. Working memory, the holding area where new information can be used, engages the prefrontal cortex. It is the brain’s area for rational thinking. It is energy-intensive and fatigues easily.
The brain is wired to recognize perceived differences between an expected outcome and actual outcomes. When it perceives differences, it fires off neurons connected to fear. With the fear circuitry engaged, it quickly morphs into anger and counterproductive behaviors.
Humans love to do what is easiest and the brain supports the easy way of perceiving. When you are doing known tasks, the basal ganglia, located deep in the brains core, is in performance. These behaviors take less energy than what is needed by the prefrontal cortex. No real conscious thought is required, so diverse ideas are quickly and easily rejected.
Without the ability to intentionally overcome our brain’s reaction to outside perceptions, it becomes really hard to collaborate with people who think differently. Understanding how the brain is wired will help empower your actions toward diversity goals.
Truth Four: The World is Getting Smaller
As the world of business becomes more globalized, the need for diversity increases. Technology has allowed business to be conducted across borders easily. Expanding into foreign markets is absolutely essential for success in world-class companies. Otherwise, smaller companies from across the world who were “born global” will drain away market share.
Decisions made during the process of globalization walk a thin line between efficiency, with consistent processes, and adapting to the markets of different cultures. Having a diverse workforce gives these companies a competitive advantage. When employees come from diverse backgrounds it gives the company a wider perspective. A diverse customer base pushes innovation to develop new products and services to meet the needs of a diverse marketplace.
Truth Five: Trust the Process
The inherent discomfort of diversity can be overcome when it is part of a company’s everyday process. Four primary processes can be remembered with 4C’s – Commitment, Collaboration, Communication and Competence. When these 4C’s are applied to the goal of diversity in the workplace, trust is developed.
“Diversity and independence are important because the best collective decisions are a product of disagreement and contest, not consensus or compromise.” ~ James Surowiecki
Trust is critical to the success of a diverse team because they will be constantly interacting to reach company goals. In a blog article, Emergenetics explains how they have developed a process called the WE approach to collaboration. Their methods show how high-level teams tap into the different brains of individuals to establish trust.
Credible resources are used to support facts and conclusions which open up the analytical pathways in the brain.
Procedures are established for everyone to follow with a process to create realistic timelines and expectations. The processes and procedures protect the brain from feelings of fear.
Social consideration is given to how certain behaviors may impact other people and validate their feelings and emotions.
Exploring new concepts opens the conceptual pathways in the brain to allow each member to communicate their vision of the future.
The article goes on to say, “The combining of thoughts and behaviors in a way that expresses respect and understanding to those around us enables us to build and maintain trust over time.”
In an article in Inc magazine, Geil Browning, brain researcher and founder of Emergenetics shares her lessons in diversity.
Communicate openly about cognitive diversity.
Deliberately hire all thinking and behavior types.
Put your diversity to work.
Make cognitive diversity a core part of your culture.
As more and more companies are uncovering the benefits of a diverse workforce and creating an inclusive environment in which each member of the team is valued, respected, and is able to fully contribute their talents, the conversations will become easier.
When we reach the point we can see diversity and inclusion as a normal ways to build successful companies, our world will be better for it.
In the words of Commander Spock in Star Trek: “Infinite diversity in infinite combinations…symbolizing the elements that create truth and beauty.”
A few years back I decided to make short, informative, and fun videos sharing a lesson that I (a professional speaker) learned while on the road. Partnering with videographer Mike Svat we strive to create stories that will put a smile on your face,information in your head,and a little motivation in your belly!
Here they are: The Top 5 Lessons from the Road Videos that had the most views:
#1. Gen X always a winner: Lessons from the Road #11 – Gen X Is the Bridge between Boomers and Millennials
#2. Turn a Negative into a Positive- Dealing with rejections
#3.Stress Relief – I need a to-do list
#4. Push Yourself to the Edge
#5. She Left Just before LeBron Came Back (My sister Patty made the list!)
Last week, I was at the UPSTART LIVE Spring Summit – New Strategies & Solutions in the Global War for Talent as the opening second-day keynote speaker of the conference. This event had a unique focus—it was highlighting HR recruiting in the Oil and Gas industry. Since I was keynoting the opening on the second day, I decided to make good use of my time and attend some of the first-day presentations.
The conference had a sweeping range of topics and interactive sessions along with peer-to-peer round tables. (Jeff Hurt, you would have been pleased.) Because my subject matter for my address was around the generations succeeding together in the workplace, I was very interested in some of the generational success stories shared by several of the corporate participants.
It was like adding fuel to my tank … a lot of my long-held concepts were confirmed as I continued to listen, learn, and grow. Now I want to shout from the mountaintop because I am so excited to share what I have learned. For years, I have been saying that in our world today when we talk about the generations in the workplace, we have to realize that the core conflict arises from trying to fit an increasing nontraditional workforce into a traditional work environment.
Here are a few things I discovered at the conference:
1. LinkedIn is where the future of recruiting lies. Attending this session was so amazing and informative. Chris Kelleher, senior sales manager at LinkedIn shared the power of LinkedIn sourcing tools and employment branding services. He mentioned that companies and organizations must have a strong brand presence on LinkedIn and candidates need to get active in using key words and updating profiles.
2. There was a lot of emphasis placed on the knowledge gap. Back 30 to 40 years ago, there was a tremendous hiring of engineers who stayed in the oil and gas industry. These Boomers have gained a huge amount of knowledge and experience in that industry, and they need to share the knowledge before they retire. Some people have suggested mentoring programs, but I was excited to hear David Kent speak. David is the founder of Houston’s Oilpro.com, which is an oil and gas social network launched to bridge the industry’s generation gap. David said that Oilpro is an online community of oil and gas professionals interested in connecting with colleagues, advancing their skills, building credibility around their expertise, staying current, and exploring exciting new opportunities.
3. I got excited as I heard about all the innovative things that oil and gas companies are doing to KEEP the talent. Here are some of the findings and solutions:
Laura Ramey, VP of HR at Crestwood Midstream, shared her experiences working with Boomers. She said that the most important thing to remember when engaging Boomers is to remember to give them attention and recognition. Boomers like to know that they are still in the loop, and that they are motivated by being valued and needed. (How about that for switching perspectives?)
Edda Tinis, the Learning and Development Director for Air Liquide, has worked on programs that successfully increased retention rates for both Gen X and Y employees for more than 10 years.In 2000, Air Liquide created a two-year rotation for all new college hires. The programs consist of four different rotations each lasting six months. In addition to the tech/operations/rotations, new hires have training in really interesting and necessary subjects such as networking, career development, the FISH Philosophy, negotiating skills, teamwork, CPR, safety and risk management, volunteer opportunities, and my favorite business—etiquette.
After hearing all this great information, I decided to shift my keynote address and put the focus on Gen X. I challenged Gen X to take on the leadership role by understanding that the conflict arises from trying to fit an increasingly nontraditional workforce into a largely traditional workplace. Gen X can be the leaders of creating the new work environment by using their knowledge, creativity, and skill to lead, manage, and guide both the Boomers and the Gen Ys. (Thank you, Edda, for giving me the fuel.)
So, I appeal to you, Gen X. It’s up to you to help all of us understand and value the strengths and differences of each generational group—leverage the strengths of each and create a work environment that values differences.
Maybe it’s a generational thing, but my internal clock gets me up and out of bed each day on or before 5:30 AM. I am up, with coffee in hand, and at my computer creating and writing long before the sun comes up. I guess it’s my boomer generation’s work ethic showing. Although I have read many stories that correlate waking up early with success, I do it because it’s the only time in my day when I can carve out precious time to write and be productive. In addition, I have discovered that my early morning “creative time” starts my day with a positive and even inspirational tone …I get more stuff done and I feel happy about myself.
So before you hit that snooze button remember this…
Gen X Needs a Rebranding – It’s Time for Generation X to Lead
I clearly remember the downfall of Arthur Anderson. I remember it so well because I was working with them when Enron went down (November 2011) and brought Anderson along for the ride. Then, in early 2002 Anderson Consulting was reborn as Accenture. In response to the negative publicity, they came out from under the rubble and they rebranded.
A successful rebranding effort demands a new vision that inspires others to see a person, company, product or service in a new light. But it doesn’t end there. Once clear on the message, the word must get out and spread out through savvy marketing.
Today there is a lot of hype in the media about baby boomers. We are constantly bombarded with news about the boomers retiring, boomers and social security, boomers downsizing and even boomers exercising. And when we are not reading about the boomers, we’re reading about the Millennials /Gen Y and how they are changing the world. What we are not reading about is our next generation of leaders … Gen X
Gen X. Remember Gen X? The generation born between 1965 -1979? The generation that has given us Jeff Bezos, Sergey Brin, Larry Page, Jack Dorsey, Brene’Brown, Corey Booker, Paul Ryan, Cheryl Sandberg, Marrisa Mayer, Salman Kahn, and Robert Downey Junior (now that’s a brand make-over!)
Gen X, the generation that is sandwiched in between the boomers and millennials.
You might remember them as the “Slacker Generation.” When Gen X entered the workplace in late 80’s and early 90’s, the media (who were boomers) painted a very negative picture: they dubbed them the slackers. Other words used to describe Gen X were grungers, negative, cynical, apathetic, challengers of authority, latchkey-kids, and losers. wah waaah.
Back then, Time Magazine described them as “cautious” in this oft-cited article:
“They have trouble making decisions. They would rather hike in the Himalayas than climb a corporate ladder. They have few heroes, no anthems, no style to call their own. They crave entertainment, but their attention span is as short as one zap of a TV dial. They hate yuppies, hippies and druggies. They postpone marriage because they dread divorce. They sneer at Range Rovers, Rolexes and red suspenders. What they hold dear are family life, local activism, national parks, penny loafers and mountain bikes.” (Time, 1990)
As many of us know … Time Magazine was wrong! They took back some of the snarky remarks in 2000, But many still remember the Brand. So, Gen X, you need a rebranding plan.
As Gen X has aged and blossomed the negative sterotype have mellowed, but the brand is still a little dull and needs a little polish. My intention is to be part of a campaign to help them speak their truth and shine a more honest and more honestly positive light on the real Gen X. You are the generations that was raised with real-world experiences, you are comfortable with technology, you have the awareness of global issues, you are sensible, reasonable and logical, you have a strong entrepreneurial spirit, AND you are in the middle of your career and your life.
Here’s a little more that we have learned about you Gen X:
Gen X brought work life balance into the forefront. The quote “Never confuse having a career with having a life” was printed on the Eddie Bauer shopping bags.
The divorce rate in the U.S. is now the lowest it’s been in 40 years and many credit this change to Generation X. Since a large percentage of Gen Xers come from divorced families, many of them vowed they would not divorce when they were adults. Gen Xers are a family focused generation as they have moved into middle adulthood.
Gen Xers are actively involved parents demonstrating that they are a generation who values education and encourage and support their children in attaining educational goals.
Generation X is a generation of independence. Because parents left Gen X to themselves (the Latchkey-kids) they are a generation that learned how to be independent early in their lives.
This creative generation defined the do-it-yourself DIY cultural ethos, and many turned entrepreneurial when they entered the job market in a down economy in the early 90s.
A big thank you goes out to Gen X women for the ban panty hose!
Gen X is highly productive and knows how to “Get Stuff Done.”
Left alone (no hovering parents) and allowed to fail, this generation is the most innovative and creative of all the generations and have lead the way in technology and music. (Garage Technology/Garage Bands)
Generation X’s sullenness has softened into a sensibility has been driving openness and transparency in business. Gen X has helped change cultures and policies of corporate America and they have done it from the inside out.
Generation X members had the most casualties and were also the major heroes on September 11th. They were the police and firefighters. They were the passengers who crashed the plane rather than having it go on to Washington, DC. They were the workers in the World Trade Center Towers. Gen X members responded to the terrorist attacks with bursts of patriotism and national fervor that surprised even themselves.
Today we are facing a world with finite limits, a place where there are no easy answers, and the sobering realization that we are encountering significant, intractable problems on multiple fronts. Gen X, this is your time. It’s interesting that the most negative elements of your childhood and early adult life may well be those that will provide you with the strongest capabilities today. Your courage, guts, determination, pragmatism, and values are what we need in our politics, our businesses and our communities.