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7 More Lessons We Can Learn from Millennials

7 More Lessons We Can Learn from MillennialsIn a recent Harris poll, 67% of Millennials (age 18-34) want to start their own business. However, they are also saddled with student loans that have come due. They still want to do their own thing, but for the meantime, they are satisfied with becoming employeepreneurs – working a day job while trying to build something on the side.

As leaders, employers, and managers, with this type of ambition towards work, what lessons can we learn from Millennials that can be applied to every generation in the workplace – Traditionalists, Boomers, Generation X, Millennials (aka Gen Y) – to keep everyone engaged, communicating, and reaching company goals?

Here are the original 7 lessons we can learn from Millennials.

 

What are 7 MORE lessons can we learn from Millennials?

Ownership – Millennials want to start their own companies because they want a sense of ownership. They want to lead. Colleges and universities are doing a better job of teaching leadership skills, either in the classroom or through extracurricular experiences, and Millennials want a chance to test their leadership skills. By providing an opportunity to lead, be it a project, a presentation, or a sub-product, it gives Millennials and other generations an opportunity to own something without a formal title of a leader, such as manager, director, or vice president. Ownership increases engagement.

Rule Maker – Entrepreneurship in Millennials is strong because they like to set their own rules. They willingly question the status quo and become agitated by “dumb” rules. Questioning the status quo is not a generation restriction. All generations can speak up, hack the rules, and reinvent arcane processes. What rules are waiting to be broken?

Untapped Talents – Millennials look to start businesses to utilize their untapped talents. Chances are there are many employees of all generations in your organization who have underutilized gifts. Discover the additional skills beyond the accounting, coding, or graphic design that they were hired to do. Use those abilities to further the company’s cause. What are your organization’s hidden assets?

Play Big – Millennials want to make a difference in the world. They want to play big. They want to put their own dent in the universe. Some members of every generation want to stand up, point to something, and say, “I did this.” Find those people in your organization who want to do big things. Put them on the important projects and let them do what they do best. Whose number will you call when the game is on the line?

Learn While Doing – Millennials don’t have all of the answers. Really, they will admit it, but it’s often behind closed doors. What they do have is an unabashed passion for learning. They use the Internet, search engines, and YouTube videos to figure it out. They tinker and toil until they get it right. They view a lack of knowledge as an opportunity to learn. All generations can take this same approach. We don’t have to have all of the answers before we start down an uncharted path. All generations are capable of learning, if they are open to it. What do you want to learn today?

Passion – Millennials desire to start their own companies because it fulfills a passion. Unless yours was the only job they could find, they initially had some passion for your company. Some glimmer of hope existed in their soul to want to work with your company. Each employee, of all generations, had some passion for your organization at one point. What if we could tap that passion to put spirit back into the business? What if you could reignite that kindling of passion that you once had for the business? How will you inject passion into your company’s soul?

Recognition – When Millennials’ heroes are people like Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg and not pop stars or athletes or politicians, they desire to start their own companies to achieve a level of fame. Recognizing employees, regardless of generation, is critical to engagement. They want to feel the love. They want to know that their work is valued. They want to know that they are not just another number in an HR database. Who are the rock stars in your organization?

 

(image courtesy of ITUPictures)

About the Author:  Todd Brockdorf, is the author of Better than Average: Excelling in a Mediocre World – (Harrogate Publishing 2012)  

He works with organizations, leaders, and frustrated professionals to stand out from the crowd. Connect with Todd on LinkedInTwitter, Facebook, and Google+.

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4 Areas of Focus for Workplace Culture Change

Workplace Culture Change

Workplace culture change is difficult. There’s no question about it. Workplace culture is, by definition, a set of norms under which the company functions. So how can we effectively change a company culture?

In speaking with Melissa Price, the Lady of the Vault, Keeper of the Coffee, (aka CEO) of dPOP!, she often encounters corporate leaders who believe that workplace design is the answer to changing company culture. Her organization creates beautiful spaces “that inspire creativity and productivity within the workplace.”

While good office design and inspiring spaces can create a certain look and feel for an organization, as she will admit, office design itself cannot change a company culture on its own.

So if it is not workplace design that can change company culture, how can we create a sustainable corporate culture change?

Because “workplace culture” derives from a set of norms within the workplace, we need to look at changing those generally accepted sets of “normal”. In other words, we have to look at human nature.

We want to belong. We want to be part of the team. We want to blend in. To change workplace culture, we need to build a community that will reflect the new normal.

The development of this community should be centered around the four areas that create culture.

People

Corporate culture change comes from within. While a workspace in and of itself can hamper or foster work culture, ultimately, it is up to the organization’s leaders to create change. Leaders are not necessarily the people with fancy titles. Leaders are those within the community that have enough social clout to affect change.

They inspire others to emulate their behavior. If the workplace installs a foosball table in the break room to nurture “collaboration”, leaders should be at the table playing the game. If the social leaders are holed up in their cubes or offices, the little foosball men will gather dust and the workplace culture will remain as is.

Individuals can also be the roadblock to change. If people cannot adapt to the culture change, it might be time to let them go. Ed Catmull, the President of Pixar and Disney Animation, did just that after a Disney Animation executive did not understand the cultural shift taking place in his organization.

Values

Workplace culture change starts with the values that the company holds true. Maybe a culture change initiative was established because the company strayed too far from its core values. Maybe there are new values that the company wants to adopt to better reflect its corporate identity.

Regardless, these values are not delivered as an edict from Mt. High. If the new values or restated values are to become part of the workplace culture, they need to be instituted by the leaders and influencers with social clout.

Process

Sometimes it’s the process that gets in the way of workplace culture change. Stifling processes can put up barriers between organizations, create tension, and be the motivating factor underlying the change initiative.

Being open to tweak, change, or eliminate processes is a critical part of corporate change initiatives. During a corporate cultural change program, it is important to examine processes, workflow, and the groups that enable or inhibit it.

Process improvement should be an exercise for the entire organization. You don’t know where an idea might come from. Take suggestions from all levels, set aside the ones that are grips to see if there is a pattern, and categorize the suggestions into general topic areas. Create discussion groups around the general topic areas. Focus the discussion on specific outcomes, not merely a list of ideas. Once documented, begin to implement the process changes.

Rewards

If corporate cultural change initiatives are to be taken seriously, they should be backed up with significant rewards and incentives.

Even Goldman Sachs has realized that yesterday’s culture of 90+ hour workweeks for recent college grads was not sustainable. While the Millennials want to make a difference in their workplace, they do not want to do so at the risk of their health and sanity. As a result, Goldman Sachs has instituted a no work on Saturdays policy for junior bankers. This initiative is incentivized by having junior bankers provide feedback to senior managers on their workload from their immediate management. For managers who do not follow policy and do not make corrections, it will affect their careers.

For a motivated Wall St. banker, that’s incentive.

Conclusion

The goal of workplace culture change is to adjust the view of what is “workplace normal.” When the cultural influencers and leaders act in a manner consistent with the desired cultural change, those actions will become the new “workplace normal.” It is only then that team members will come to accept the new normal and join in, resulting in corporate cultural change.

About the Author:  Todd Brockdorf, is the author of Better than Average: Excelling in a Mediocre World – (Harrogate Publishing 2012)  

He works with organizations, leaders, and frustrated professionals to stand out from the crowd. Connect with Todd on LinkedInTwitter, Facebook, and Google+.

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Why Do I Feel Out of Control?

out of controlThe reason we feel out of control is because we have no control. The solution? Routines. Consistent, repeatable routines.

Many people wake up, hit the snooze button, shower, get dressed, throw food at the kids, drive to work, get tossed in 50,000 directions, come home, eat dinner, put the kids to bed, and fall asleep watching TV. Sure, that’s a routine.

It’s a tornado routine. Everything is spinning from the moment it starts to the moment it passes by. What if you changed your routine to a hurricane routine? Everything is spinning from the moment it starts, there is a brief pause in the middle, then it starts spinning again, until the moment it passes by. At least there is some time in the middle where you have a few minutes to stop, gather yourself, and prepare for the second half of the maelstrom.

What if we took it a step further and aimed for a thunderstorm routine? In that scenario, there would be some calm, things would go to pot, then it moves on and there is calm again.

Let’s go further. What if we structured our day such that there is a gentle breeze routine for most of the day? Occasionally, the wind would pick up. There might even be a few strong gusts. Eventually, those subside and we return to the gentle breeze that we had.

How is This Gentle Breeze Routine Possible?

“But my life isn’t like that,” you say? Why not? It’s because you didn’t structure it that way. As I said in a previous post, “If you choose not to take control, others will make decisions for you.” You are paid to make decisions for your area of responsibility. You choose how best to structure your day. You choose to schedule a few minutes into your day to stop and think (yes, even folks with only a 30-minute lunch break – eat for 15, think for 15). It’s up to you.

Stuff Comes Up

Of course “stuff” comes up. Deal with it as appropriate. Understand the expectations or reframe the beliefs. Just because someone says, “Jump,” doesn’t necessarily elicit the automatic response of, “How high?” Does it really need to be done right now (as in stop whatever you are doing and handle it right this second)? Or, can it be done after you finish whatever is on your plate at this moment? Can it be delegated to someone else to handle while you work on other tasks? If someone truly feels that it needs to be handled “right now” and you know that it can wait a few, help that person reframe their beliefs through patient, empathetic understanding.

Achieve Nirvana

You choose how you react to situations. If you let the situation make your blood boil, that’s your choice. If you react in a calm, rational manner, that’s also your choice. If you choose the latter, the other person who is creating the situation may respond with a similar gesture and calm down as well. You can only control yourself.

Establish Your Routines

There is no one right routine to achieve success. According to Fast Company, when they asked CEOs about their morning routines, each one had a different method that they employed. The gist is that it doesn’t matter what are the routines, it’s that they are consistent and repeatable. Maybe you check email first (personally not recommended). Maybe you exercise. Maybe you write. Maybe you take care of your biggest goal for the day. Whatever is your routine, define it, do it, repeat it.

 

How do you structure your day?

Let me know in the comments.

About the Author:  Todd Brockdorf, is the author of Better than Average: Excelling in a Mediocre World – (Harrogate Publishing 2012)  

He works with organizations, leaders, and frustrated professionals to stand out from the crowd. Connect with Todd on LinkedInTwitter, Facebook, and Google+.

 

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6 Better than Average Signs It’s Time to Leave Your Job

Reasons to Leave JobHow do you know when is it time to leave your job? I recently got fired from my day job and I couldn’t be more excited. I knew it was time to go. When I added up all of the facts, there was only one right answer. Here are 6 Better than Average signs that it is time to quit your job.

The Job Fundamentally Changes

The company fundamentally changed the job description from what I originally signed up. That’s fine. If that’s how they want to execute their business strategy, that’s their decision. Good luck to them. If it was a general downsizing – doing more with less people – I’m ok with that. Sure, it would suck (technical term), but I’ve been through that before. But they changed my job role. Will your job fundamentally change?

Ethically Aligned?

Their decision to change the job didn’t agree with my sense of ethics and moral compass. Statistics show that most people don’t like their jobs – I get that. But, if your soul and your job function are not congruent, it’s a glowing, flashing neon sign that it’s time to look for other opportunities. Is your job ethically aligned with who you are?

The Door is Wide Open

They offered a nice package with pay and benefits that would last a while. Rumor has it that it will be the last nice package. The industry is growing and there are other jobs out there. There are also other parallel industries that could benefit from the same skill set. Do you see your window of opportunity?

You Have a Wife and Kids

I have a wife and kids. Most people would view this situation as an anchor to stay in a job. However, I didn’t want my kids to see that I was stuck in a dead-end job doing the same thing from college graduation until they got rid of me when I was old and gray. I want my wife to be in a place where she can choose to work and determine how much she wants to work. I want the freedom to choose. Do you?

Ability to Maintain Your Power

If you choose not to take control, others will make decisions for you. It was my decision to leave, not theirs. I made a choice. Rather than being shocked that a sudden change was coming, I prepared myself. While others had to endure an air of uncertainty as to their fates, I was able to rest easy at night knowing that it was my choosing. Who has your power?

Opportunity, Not Adversity

This situation is an opportunity, not an adversity. When there appear to be greater opportunities elsewhere, it’s time to say goodbye. It’s a chance to test the waters. Put multiple lines in the pond and see which one catches a fish. Keep the other hooks in to keep luring fish. Who knows where you may go?

 

It was a good run. It was a memorable, rewarding experience. I’m not bitter. It was fun while it lasted, but it was time to go.

Con te partiro.

About the Author:  Todd Brockdorf, is the author of Better than Average: Excelling in a Mediocre World – (Harrogate Publishing 2012)  

He works with organizations, leaders, and frustrated professionals to stand out from the crowd. Connect with Todd on LinkedInTwitter, Facebook, and Google+.

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Tell Better Stories to Stand Out from the Crowd

stand out from the crowdIf you find yourself in a commoditized situation, tell better stories to stand out from the crowd.

Over the summer, I visited Detroit’s Eastern Market, a weekly farmers market. There were many local farmers selling their fresh fruits and vegetables. Some producers offered produce that was seemingly picked that morning. While others sold product that looked like it was one step away from the grocery stores, all packaged in plastic, complete with SKUs and the annoying stickers that can’t be easily composted.

In a market where everyone seemingly has the same goods, how do you stand out from the crowd?

Tell better stories.

While everyone else is standing at their stall, engage passersby.

While everyone else is hawking tomatoes, offer heirloom varieties.

While everyone else is selling vegetables, share organics.

At Eastern Market, I met Danny Lutz, a local farmer from Yale, Michigan. At first glance, his small stall had similar vegetables as all of the others. But, as you approached his tables, he greeted you warmly. Examining his produce, you could tell it was different. It was organic. And fresh. And the heirloom tomatoes were big and ripe and juicy.

It was then that Danny explained about his tomatoes and their heritage. He continued on about his farming practices and the soil and his new tractor. He even invited the family up to the farm and offered to let my kids ride on the tractor.

I was hooked.

After a conversation with Danny, you understood why his business card says, “Passionate Organic Farming.”

Of all of the vendors, and there were hundreds, he told the best story.

In your business, when you offer similar products and services as your competition, what story are you telling? What messaging do you use to differentiate yourself?  What are you known for in the marketplace?

Telling your story more effectively than the other guys helps you earn the deal, makes the sale, and gets the girl.

What’s your story?

And those heirloom tomatoes? They were some of the best I’ve ever had.

About the Author:  Todd Brockdorf, is the author of Better than Average: Excelling in a Mediocre World – (Harrogate Publishing 2012)  

He works with organizations, leaders, and frustrated professionals to stand out from the crowd. Connect with  Todd on LinkedInTwitter, Facebook, and Google+.

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