Tag Archives: Gen Y in the Workplace

Hold On: One Day You Will Be Doing What You Love

9 Aug

How many of you know someone who is unhappy with their job? I know a lot of people who feel this way, and because of the economy I am sure you do too. When you ask these people why they don’t like their jobs, what do they tell you? If you are asking someone from Gen Y they are probably going to tell you that they don’t like their job because they aren’t doing something they LOVE. Am I right?

Well, for those of you out there who feel that you are stuck at a boring job doing something you hate and fear that this will be your life, I am here to tell you that if you hold on, get the experience you need, and move up the career ladder you will be closer to the job of your dreams than you think.

Here is one of my favorite stories about how the job you hate doesn’t have to be your last job.

Take Emily Giffin, my favorite author (yes, I LOVE chick-lit books). Emily went to law school because she felt like she needed to get a “real” job before taking a stab at becoming a fiction writer. Does she regret going to law school? No. But she didn’t like the practice of law one bit. In fact, here is what Emily has to say: “I loathed the actual practice of law—at least the big firm culture. And I discovered that misery can be quite motivating. So very early on, I devised a plan to pay off my law school loans and then write full-time. Meanwhile, I began writing a young adult novel in my free time (and sometimes while at work!). Four years later, my loans were paid off and my book was completed. I was able to land an agent, but over the next several months, I received a dozen rejection letters from publishers. I seriously contemplated giving up and keeping my nose to the legal grindstone, but instead, I quit my job, moved to London and decided to try again. It was then and there that I began writing Something Borrowed.” Now, years later, Emily has 6 New York Times Bestselling novels, many loyal Facebook followers, and never has to step foot in a courtroom.

So, if you are stuck working at a job that you loathe, what can you do to make your time there worth while and make sure you don’t drive yourself crazy?

BUILD PERSONAL RELATIONSHIPS

If you build relationships with the people in your office you won’t feel so alone. Now, I would be very careful discussing your feelings about your job with these people, because you would never want these feelings to get back to your boss. But there is no harm in being friends with your co-workers and going to lunch with them. Heck, these relationships could eventually lead to a job that you will LOVE. As my mom always told me – its not what you know, its who you know.

GET INVOLVED

Remember, if you are one of those people trying to move up and on to something better, getting involved in tasks beyond your skill level will help you build your resume and enhance your skills. This could be something that you work on with someone else, or it could purely be a project to help the company as a whole run more smoothly, operate more efficiently, or strive to solve some of the problems that co-workers have been complaining about. The more you get involved in than just those tasks that make up your job description the more you will grow professionally – and that never hurts.

MAKE SURE THAT THE JOB YOU WANT IS REALLY WHAT YOU THINK IT IS

It is one thing to think that being something sounds cool, but it is another thing to actually experience it. Take Emily for example. She went to law school, loved it, and then ended up hating the practice of law. She never would have known that had she not ventured into legal practice out of law school. So, for those of you who think that you want to venture into a certain type of job, make sure that the job really is what you think it is. How do you do this? Get a mentor that works in the field and ask them if you can follow them for a day, two days, or a week. Being able to see what they do on a daily basis will give you some insight into whether or not you will really enjoy that job.

HOLD ON – THE END IS NEAR

In the end, we all can’t be doing what we love right away. Getting to the top and getting where we want takes time and patience. So, while you are building relationships, building your skills, and making sure that your dream job is the right job for you – hold on. Eventually you will end up where you are supposed to.

What Older Generations Need to do to Accomodate Millennials in the Workplace

20 Jan

I have been reading a lot about the struggle the Baby Boomers (and sometimes Gen X) are having adapting to the Millennials (or Gen Y) who are now entering and compromising a large portion of the workplace. Oftentimes we hear the older generations complaining that Millennials are lazy, lack social skills, feel entitled, and lack respect for authority. While some of those characterizations may be true to some extent, I think the tension in the workplace is coming from the older generation’s failure to adapt to the new and modern employee. Sure, us Gen Y folks speak our mind, leave a job when we feel bored, want to have our lives driven by passion, and know how to use all kinds of technology that often scare the older generations, but is that such a bad thing? Wasn’t it the Baby Boomers and the Gen Xers who made the Millennials who they are? Wasn’t it the older generations who told us to speak our minds and that we could do anything we wanted to do? So why is there so much tension between the older generations and the new and modern Gen Y employees? I think it is because the two generations fail to adequately understand one another, and the older generations really fail to understand that Gen Y is a completely new breed of employee.

For those of you who don’t know, there is a lot of generational research done on this particular topic. If you do a quick Amazon search on the Gen Y topic a lot of books complaining about the Millennials pop up. I took the opportunity to skim some of those books, and here is what I learned about the different generations in a nut shell.

The Baby Boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) experienced Vietnam, the Cold War, Watergate, the Women’s Liberation Movement, the Civil Rights Movement, the TV making an appearance in many homes and the rise of some of our favorite TV shows such as The Brady Bunch and Gilligan’s Island, the rise of Rock & Roll, the emergence of Credit Cards, the Martin Luther King, Jr. assassination, the Kennedy assassination, and the landing on the moon (or the fake landing for those of you who are conspiracy theorists). The Baby Boomers love to work hard and use the advents of new technology to do more work, not necessarily to make their work more efficient. Baby Boomers are not as close to their parents as more recent generations and often distrust government (doesn’t everyone?).

The Generation X folks (born between 1965 and 1977) experienced the  emergence of the AIDS epidemic, the Persian Gulf War, increasing divorce rates, video games, and MTV. Gen Xers are often cautious and conservative with their money, they grew up in a time where both parents worked and became known as “Latch-Key Kids,” they are well-educated, they are skeptical of authority, and they are not as interested in long-term careers as the Baby Boomers were.

Generation Y, also known as the Millennials, (born between 1978 and 1996, or as some say, 1980-2000) experienced 9/11, the emergence of terrorism, the Columbine tragedy, the Virginia Tech tragedy, the Pop music and boy band/girl band movement (NSYNC, Backstreet Boys, the Dixie Chicks and the Spice Girls), the emergence of cell phones, text messaging (and now sext messaging), and the emergence of social media and social networking. Millennials like to work in teams, speak their mind, and challenge opinions and decisions when they feel like it. They want constant feedback at work, would rather have a life than be married to their career, and have a deep desire to feel appreciated and stimulated at work.

Now that I have provided you with somewhat of a background on the various groups (although I am sure it is not exhaustive) that are now compromising the workplace, here are some of my tips on how the older generations can work with Millennials:

Provide Constructive Criticism & Positive Feedback (Constantly)

Millennials grew up in a home environment where their parents “coddled” them. While the term “coddle” could be negative, I think it can also be a positive. It means that the Gen Yer’s parents took an interest in their lives and continue to remain a large part of their lives. Because the parents were more involved, they gave their children more attention. This constant attention then left the Millennials with a constant need for feedback. It isn’t good enough that there is a year-end review in the workplace. It isn’t good enough that a boss walks into a Millennial’s office and says “thanks for finishing that for me.” Baby Boomers and Gen Xers need to provide the Millennials with constructive criticism and positive feedback. And this constructive criticism and positive feedback needs to be rather frequent – not once a year.  If a boss comes into a Millennials’ office and criticizes their work, they are left feeling deflated. This deflated feeling in turn discourages them from working hard, and eventually can lead to them leaving the job in pursuit of something more gratifying.

While the Baby Boomers and Gen Xers need to work harder to ensure that the Millennials are receiving constant feedback, the Millennials need to understand that their employer is not their parent. The employer doesn’t always feel the need to “pump your tires” as my husband would say. Know that your employer is not always going to understand your need for constant feedback and is not always going to lift you up when you are feeling low. And if you find that they are not providing you with the amount of feedback you want, then go ask them for it.

Offer More Flexible Schedules

Oftentimes I hear older generations complaining that Millennials are lazy. While it may appear that they are lazy because they value their lives more than their work, Millenials so in fact have a desire to work hard and feel accomplished. Older generations need to understand that Millennials don’t always feel the need to sit behind a desk to accomplish their tasks. They could be sitting in Starbucks, on their couch, or on a beach. They understand the need to produce good results, but they also want some flexibility on how they are required to do so. If employers in fields that allow for such flexibility provide the Millennials with the option to work at home a few days a week, they may see some good results. In return, the Millennials need to understand that flexibility is not always an option in entry-level positions. They need to focus on working hard in the beginning so they can later have some of that flexibility they are desiring.

Try to Facilitate Team Oriented Projects

Millennials were raised in a generation where team building activities, group projects, and cooperation were key. Many older generations often complain that the Millennials would rather discuss ideas by walking into another employee’s office instead of doing so in a conference room meeting. What the older generations fail to understand is that Millennials like to think out loud and like to collaborate with their co-workers. Rather than complaining about this collaborative instinct, employers should try to enhance it by putting the right mix of people together  to work on projects. In return, Millennials need to understand that not all work projects can be done in teams.

Create More Exciting Projects and Opportunities

Millennials are often criticized for leaving a job when they feel unmotivated, unstimulated, or bored. Employers used to worry about getting the most talented people into certain open positions. Now they are worried about how to keep those talented people in their company. As many companies have realized, Millennials are not afraid to up and leave their current job.  In an effort to keep employees interested, employers need to create more exciting projects and opportunities for their Millennial employees. Allow them to participate in volunteer opportunities under the company’s name, ask them if they want to be involved in certain projects outside of their comfort zone, and ask them if they are happy with the work you are giving them. Millennials should make sure that they know what they are getting into before they accept the job. While you cannot always know how a particular job will be before you take it, you can interview your potential employer and see whether the work environment is one you could see youselves in.

MOST IMPORTANTLY, employers need to understand that the new generation of workers are different from them. Millennials are driven by passion and the desire to feel accomplished and do good for their community. Rather than focusing on the negative aspect of the newer generation and the differences between the generations, employers should focus on how to adequately utilize the Millennials’ skills. Whether older generations want to face it or not, the Millennials are the future. If employers fail to realize this, and fail to adapt to the Millennials, they won’t keep those talented Millennials on board for very long.