3 Ways the Millennial Generation Can Be Your Company’s BS Meter

As a species humans love to complain, and we seem to really love to complain about the younger generations. However, it’s time to give the kid-bashing a rest and look at the ways that working with the millennial generation (18-30 years old) helps us be better leaders and build better companies.

Overall, I love working with millenials. Where some see entitlement, I see self-confidence. Where some see a lazy work ethic, I see a respect for work-life balance. Where some see an unwillingness to get with the program, I see people who want meaning in their work. Who doesn’t want self-confidence, work-life balance and meaning? We all do; this is just the first generation to have the guts to ask for it at the outset.

Even though I admire these things about the younger generation, they’re not the main reason I enjoy working with them. The biggest gift I believe millenials bring to the workplace is that they’re a great BS meter to help you and your business stay real and connected to the market and the employee base.

Why do you need a BS meter? Everyone needs a BS meter! It’s all too easy for the “adults” running the business to get out of touch with what’s going on with customers, front line employees and “the way things really work around here.” Just in managing the typical overwhelm of the average workplace, most of us give up trying to weed out the BS. It becomes easier to believe our own press and reward a culture around us that doesn’t challenge us to do more, be more and innovate. Too often we find ourselves doing things because we’ve done them before, not because they still make sense.

Millenials really don’t like doing stuff because it’s the way it’s always been done. Because they’re still newbies, they see things with fresh eyes. And – because they were told they mattered growing up – they have opinions about how things could be done better. Because they’re sophisticated consumers, users and media junkies many of their opinions are worth listening to.

Case in point. One millennial left his job because he was asked to spend a half a day filling out paperwork to purchase a stapler. The glass-half-empty manager says that individual needs to get some humility and find a work ethic. The glass-half-full manager says, “why are we wasting half a day of anyone’s time doing paperwork for a stapler?!”

Working with millenials can be a blessing and an opportunity to run a better business, but to take advantage of them you have accept that there is some BS in your system and set your intention to clear it out.  Here are three simple steps to help you do this.

1-    Ask their opinion and listen to their thoughts. Really, how hard can it be? You don’t have to DO everything they suggest. Just listen and absorb non-defensively. Millennials love to give feedback. (They also love to receive it.)

2-    Watch what they enjoy. If consumers vote with their dollars, millenials vote with their time. Where they spend their time and energy is what they consider valuable and meaningful. If it’s not what you want them to do, look for the BS in the “what you want them to do” system (see #1). Once you understand the BS there, seek to get rid of it or replace it (see #3) with something important.

3-    Try to retain them. The manager who’s stapler lost him a millennial employee failed this test. Millenials want to understand how their work connects to something important. If you can’t help them see what it is, then you may lose them. Think this sense of purpose and meaning in your work is a luxury? Your millennial employees are the canaries in the coalmine for the rest of your workforce. The fact is that everyone wants to have meaning in their work and they work better when they have it. Solve the problem for the millenials and you’ll be solving the problem for your entire workforce. Solve the problem for your workforce and you’ll run a better business.

There are many more benefits the millennial generation brings to the workplace. Join a video panel of millenials and organizational development thought leaders to explore some of these themes on July 16th. Register here (recording available).

 

 

The Future of Work Unleashes Human Potential

Ever want to look into a crystal ball and see the future? Check out Dana’s vision of the future of work in this 1 minute video. – InPower Editors

How will you lead in the rapidly changing future of work? Start by understanding that the workplace is changing and becoming more fluid. Organizations are beginning to resemble organic systems more than mechanical ones. People are the dominant value and system in the work-world and to succeed you must master human systems. Develop your emotional intelligence and soft-skills, and you’ll be the kind of leader the world needs in the future of work. Start with yourself.

 

 
 
 

Why Does Equal Pay Really Matter?

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There is no question that women and minorities are not at salary parity with white males in our business culture. They are not. But the prevailing myth that this is an evil plot to oppress us doesn’t fly with me, because when you look under the covers of equal pay, things get much more complex. In sum, the current wage gap serves a purpose, both for businesses and for many women themselves; and in doing so it’s undermining the interests and needs of us all.

What a deeper dive into the data shows, on the surface is this:

  • There are generational influences and younger women are at less of a disadvantage than older women. (This may change – time will tell.)
  • The wage gap differs when looking at hourly vs. annual wages.
  • Wages for women are trending up while wages for men are trending down — leading to a future crossover point?
  • Women and men view work vs. life in dramatically different contexts, and make their choices accordingly, leading women as a demographic to drop in and out of the workforce more often, with less emphasis on upward career momentum.

The Truth Beneath the Wage Gap

Even with the factors above accounted for, there is still a significant and meaningful wage gap, but the explanation for it is simply less clear. Combine these insights with the fact that companies incent hiring managers to get the most value for the least price — a generally “good business practice” in our capitalist society — and what we see is a system that is designed to take advantage of women and men who don’t strategize and negotiate their value. Continue reading

Managing People – Do We Really Do That?

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My first management experience was a disaster. I had a poor manager myself and was told to “be in charge” of a group of my peers, who did not report to me and had no particular reason to do what I told them to do. It turned into a backstabbing circus within hours.

What I learned from that experience is that “management” comes in all forms and that reporting relationships are only one of many dimensions that matter when it comes to getting things done and building a professional reputation.

Over the years, and working with professionals in many professions and at levels I have come to understand that the very term “managing” can be misleading if we assume that it has much to do with “control.” Sometimes we do control resources, budgets, job descriptions and other assets, but we never control people.

What we do control is ourselves.  Continue reading

Do Men and Women Vision the Future Success Differently?

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One of the joys of my career has always been helping individuals and groups develop compelling, meaningful and guiding visions – the kind of visions that pull them excitedly into their future.

Most of the corporate visioning work I’ve done with executive teams has not included many women. No big surprise there, given that women are still struggling to penetrate the executive ranks. As a result, it wasn’t until recently, working with women-owned businesses and senior women leaders, that I’ve had the privilege of experiencing how women envision the future differently than men. In the process, I was relieved to discover that – as a woman – I am not alone in having an expansive, positive and exciting vision of things are headed.

What I learned in the process of working with women confirms the research I’ve read about how women are motivated by more success factors than men tend to be in their business interests. Specifically, while men are more apt to define success in business as the acquisition of money and power, women are interested – also – in impact beyond the bottom line. This has resulted in companies with women on their boards being more generous philanthropically and being 81% more motivated by how their contribution could create change when giving money to non-profits. My female clients also report viewing employee satisfaction and retention as key success metrics.

Interconnected visions of success Continue reading

Being Bold at Work

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We often give advice to leaders, “Be bold!”

Why?

Here are the typical reasons for being bold that I hear:
You’ll get noticed
You’ll move faster forward (failing and succeeding both)
You’ll get outside the box

All good reasons!

But here’s why I want you to be bold: you’ll develop the habit of stretching yourself.

Most of us move forward in our lives in a rather jerky fashion. We make a change (intentionally or otherwise) and then spend a lot of time dealing what just happened. Continue reading

Leadership Communications: 4 Steps to Co-Opt Those Voices in Your Head

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So much communications training is about what we say to others, but the most powerful leaders have open communications with themselves too. Learn from Dana’s insights on a new way to lead – from within! – InPower Editors

Great leaders often cite “self-awareness” as the top soft skill responsible for their success. There’s even some research that documents this correlation. I believe that self-awareness is a communication skill, one that starts with communicating effectively with yourself instead of just focusing externally on your relations with others. But how can you develop self-communication prowess and self-awareness if you don’t already have it, and turn it into a professional asset if you do?

I wish I knew a simple answer to this question. I don’t. Self-awareness is a journey, and your strongest ally on this inner journey is the voice in your head — the one you might be used to ignoring, or following without challenging. Learning to communicate effectively with yourself may be one of the greatest communications challenges you’ll ever face.
So much communications training is about what we say to others, but the most powerful leaders have open communications with themselves too. Learn from Dana’s insights on a new way to lead – from within! – InPower Editors

The truth is that we’re talking to ourselves constantly, and in those inner discussions lie clues to who we are and how we act that can make us extremely powerful actors in the world — or can make us slaves to unconscious patterns that doom us to irrelevance or bullying.

The voices in your head are your brain’s attempt to help you become more conscious and mindful about how you’re spending your energy, but to actually benefit from their wisdom, you have to engage with them and become a conscious participant. This means that sometimes you must reprogram them to be more helpful. Here’s the simplest process I know to begin to harness their power.
Continue reading

Part 2 of the Values Schism: Corporate America Needs To Get Real

A young attractive businesswoman working on her laptop

In my last post about how there is a growing schism between the values held by employees and those held by their employers, and how it’s driving employees out the door.

I noted that 54% of millenials are planning on leaving their firms to try entrepreneurship. This is a big number, but even that is dwarfed by a study by Harris Interactive that found 74% of employees of all ages would look for another job if they could. The reasons? According to Alan Hall, Accenture reports that 31% don’t like their boss, 31% feel unempowered, 35% are tired of internal politics and 43% don’t feel recognized for their work.

A 74% level of employee dissatisfaction represents a costly vulnerability for companies, especially as affordable health care and technology reduce the costs for employees to take the risk of entrepreneurship. Projecting forward, the cost to a dissatisfied employee going out on their own is going down as a percentage of their annual salary, while the relative costs to the employer to replace them are on the rise. Today employers can spend 150% or more of a skilled employee’s annual salary recruiting and training their replacements.

While the cost to replace a low-skilled worker is decidedly less than this, many of the people leaving are the most emotionally intelligent and creative. When so many analysts point to both these qualities as keys to competitiveness, on a company- and economy-wide scale, creative brains draining from cubeville should be of concern to employers (though it might actually be good news for the entrepreneurial economy. Continue reading

The Values Schism And How It’s Draining The Brains From Corporate America

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Something insidious is happening in the cubicles and hallways of America’s big and midsized companies.

Employees who have attained a chunk of the America dream — a steady paycheck, benefits and a rung on the upwardly mobile ladder — are risking an uncertain job market and quitting their jobs in astonishing numbers (more than 2 million a month). Why?

On the surface, they will tell you that they are in search of personal and professional fulfillment they can’t find in their current positions. Underneath this trend, however, is a deeper motivation. Employees are discovering that their values are misaligned with the companies they work for and that one of their highest values, a deepening appreciation for themselves as integrated human beings, has almost no value to their employers.

Over the last five years, this schism has grown so much that the number of people intending to quit and start their own business has grown by 50%.

Women are the canary in the coal mine

Perhaps the most telling demographic trend indicating a values schism between employees and their employers can be found among women, who begin as more than half the entry-level workforce but are less than 20% of the leadership in corporate America. Most analysts view this exodus of high-potential women as a slam into the traditional glass ceiling, but that explanation misses a more important reality: Many women today don’t experience the glass ceiling as something “done to them”  but as a choice. They know they are talented, but they believe their employers don’t value their skills and strengths.

The persistence of the 23% gender pay gap would be reason enough for them to feel undervalued, but there are other barriers to contend with, so they choose to go where they will be valued. The best place to do this is in their own companies, which is why women are starting more new businesses than men and represent the fastest-growing segment of $10 million+ entrepreneurs in the country. Continue reading

Take The Lead – A Challenge to Women – with Sheryl Sandberg

Sheryl Sandberg, Author of Lean In

We are thrilled to announce that InPower Women has partnered with TaketheLead.com to host a keynote speech by Sheryl Sandberg – right on InPowerWomen.com! Sheryl will be joined by other heavy hitters in the women’s empowerment movement. Together they will discuss the challenges we face, and the opportunities we have. Please join us for the LIVESTREAM here on InPower Women on February 19, 2014 (8pm Eastern). Register now (free of charge) to receive reminders and special email invitations to a simultaneous Facebook and twitter chat moderated by InPower Women so your voice can be heard too! – InPower Editors

While we wait for the event, enjoy this interesting TED interview with Sheryl about what has happened since Lean In was published last year.

Don’t forget to register to join us here on InPowerWomen.com, Facebook and Twitter for the Livestream event!

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Welcome, InPower Leaders…

I'm dedicated to supporting leaders driven to fuel their professional success through their personal development. In addition to supporting executives individually, InPower Consulting offers unique soft-skills development programs, team dynamics seminars, and leadership development workshops.

Be sure to check out InPowerCoaching.com for online professional development and InPowerWomen.com for inspirational insights from women leaders.

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