Millennials, leadership is influence

Millennials in the workplaceSo we’ve started talking about Gen Y (Millennials) leading in the workplace and what that really means. I guess we have to start with the definition of leadership in order to find out how to do it, right?

Leadership = Influence.

I’d love to take credit for that, but really that comes from a guy way smarter than me and even though he’s a boomer, he’s spent his life understanding and studying leadership. I can relate to what he’s selling because unlike many from his generation, he recognizes that we can all learn from each other.

All of our lives, we’ve been directed. We’re told what sports to play, what church to attend, what friends to hang out with, and even what college to go to. Now, we’ve hit the real world and there isn’t someone telling us what steps to take to lead…we have to figure that out on our own.

To me, that’s the fun part. I know that I don’t know everything and want to learn as much as I possibly can so what do I do?

I find mentors. I read constantly. I maintain a social network of experts in various fields I can access to help me. I read constantly. I ask older people what they think. I ask younger people what they think. I think. I read constantly…you get the picture.

The good news is that we are in a generation that is more open to sharing information than ever before and we have the tools to do that faster than ever before. The trick, however,  is sharing the right information and cultivating the right kinds of relationships necessary to be an effective leader.

Whether online or in person, knowing who to go to is very important to getting the job done. That’s a lesson in influence. You can’t get things done unless you know and partner with the key people in any organization.

Sometimes that means…wait for it…EVEN BOOMERS!!! aaaaah!

What can we do to partner with boomers (and Xers)?

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I can see clearly now…

Most likely, if you’re reading this, you understand the necessity of clear expectations for employees.

There is also a good chance that you understand the importance of setting customer/client expectations.

The real question is this:

Do they (customers/employees) think the expectations are clear?

How do you know?  Did you ask them?  Did they just say “yes” or did they articulate them back to you?

Make sure expectations are clearly set…from the eye of the beholder…

Just a chance…it’s FREE!!!

Things are tight right? I mean, if the economy is in the proverbial toilet and we’re cutting costs everywhere, you can’t possibly think you’re getting a raise, can you? Of course not! It wouldn’t be fiscally responsible.

office space“By the way, we’ve got your mid-year evaluations due by the end of the month so make sure you’re working with your managers to complete these. They are an important tool for our company and your professional development…but we aren’t giving merit increases/bonuses this year.”
Sounds ridiculous doesn’t it.  Where’s the incentive for stellar performance? Why should your star employees live up to their potential?  How can they remain innovative and keep giving all they have to their jobs?
I’ll tell you: they will remain innovative, live up to their potential, and give all they have to their jobs…somewhere else.  Certainly it’s a tough market.  The star performers, however, know when you’re giving lip-service to people development and when you’re actually practicing it.

Let’s roleplay.  Suppose you, as a manager, were told that your career was very important to your company and that your manager was going to help you get to the next level.  Then, nothing.  Nada. Nil.  Nothing happens because things get tight… and the phone rings.
On the other end of the line is a former coworker telling you how theyobamaarelooking for someone who does exactly what you’re doing for your company now.  It’s not an advancement, but there’s a chance it might lead to it.  Your old company has all but promised for you to be stuck in this dead end job until the next President makes 1,000 promises of changing the economy so why wait it out here?  At least there, there’s a chance.
LloydThat’s all I’m saying.  Blanket policies about advancement, hiring freezes, raises, performance evaluations, etc., just don’t work.  All an employee wants to know is that there’s a chance.  As Lloyd says, “SO YOUR SAYING THERE’S A CHANCE!!!
It doesn’t have to be spending thousands on lavish trips, training seminars, and huge bonuses; however, for those who are top performers, reward them.  Unfortunately, it seems some managers would rather not reward a top performer and have a blanket policy, than to have to deal with those who are not top performers.
Keep evaluating, keep moving, KEEP THINKING!

We can’t afford to hire right now…

Really?  Times are tough.  Budgets have been slashed.  You’re just lucky to have a job right now anywhere right?  We’re just waiting to see how the economy pans out before we make a move.

Really?  Well you know, things aren’t as fluid as they were a couple of years ago.  It’s important to cut costs in times like these.  We can’t justify adding anyone in a non-revenue producing department right now.

ENOUGH!!!  Sorry about that.  Is it just me or has Eeyore taken over the reins of the business world?  Hearing things like that make me wonder how we ever developed the greatest economic superpower the world has ever seen.Eeyore Fortunately, there are a few of us out there who haven’t drank the KoolAid that things are horrible.

Life is tough for those who have lost a job.  It can’t be easy as an HR pro to look into their eyes and tell them that their services are no longer needed, but GOOD NEWS: Companies still need innovation.  Companies still need people…NEW people.

One of the greatest things about diversity is that it gives you a fresh, innovative thought.  Business has seen time and time again that diversity helps a company be innovative.

The challenge?  Push ahead.  Good companies come out of recessions stronger than they went into them.  Good companies relish the opportunity to add talent that will help them gain a competitive edge.  Talent that will help them beat their competition.  Talent that might even come from the competition.

In this month’s DiversityInc magazine, companies were ranked on their diversity efforts and it’s no surprise that those with a higher priority on diversity (you know, the ones who are doing more than looking for skin color) are some of the most innovative companies in the world.

images (1)Anthony Carter, the VP & Chief Diversity Officer for Johnson & Johnson was quoted “Different ways of thinking drive innovation.  We have to create an environment that fosters mutual accountability.”

What a concept!!! Rather than having the same people in the same departments thinking and acting the same way that got you into this mess, let’s come up with another way to get some accountability.  Maybe, just maybe that’s looking for a fresh perspective.

You can’t afford to hire right now?  WRONG!  You can’t afford NOT to hire right now.

Keep pushing.  Keep trying.  Keep innovating.  Keep Thinking!

Networking??? I’m busy today…

The very thought of filling your pocket with business cards, trekking off to the next association event, throwing yourself all over the prospective client/hiring manager/volunteer/waitress, just sends shivers down your spine right?  Some people would rather schedule a dentist appointment thanMilton go to a networking event.  People hate it so badly they’ll pay almost any amount of money or hide behind a computer screen and call it social networking, just to avoid being “The Networker.”

Although we all know the “natural networkers,” most of us do network regularly, but we don’t think about it until we’re in a panic looking for a job.  Think of it like this: when you were learning to ride a bike, what was your biggest fear?  It probably wasn’t falling off the bike.  That was secondary.  The first terror was that your escort would let go of the seat!  “IF YOU LOVE ME YOU WON’T LET GO!” you screamed before reluctantly pedaling.

Maybe it’s like the guy you know who is a wonderful person and you can’t wait to set him up with the girl who’s just perfect for him.  Only when it’s on the line, he’s acting like a completely different person than the one you know.  More than a dufas than you could’ve ever imagined!

Enough with the analogies.  This is what networking forces us to do again later in life.  We have to perform when the game is on the line.  When we’re trying, we’re usually trying too hard but we have to push out of our comfort zone.  Making connections can’t be that hard…right???

Here are some very helpful tips on just how to network:

  1. Be proactive – Always look for a way to connect, preferably, other than business.
  2. You’ve done this beforeQ. How did you get the friends you have now? A. Networking.
  3. People really do want to help – How do you feel when someone asks you for the name of your dry cleaners?
  4. Talk.  Don’t sell. Make a real connection.  If you’re talking about the weather, you’re wasting their time and yours.
  5. Try to connect others.  One way to calm your fears is to go in trying to connect two other people to each other.  They’ll both remember you for it.

Realize that others have the same insecurities you do.  Remember your first kiss?  How you were scared to death and wandered how you’d pull it off?  Well, it turns out they were wandering how to kiss you too.

Hitch

It’s like the movie Hitch with Kevin James and Will Smith.  If you lean in 90%, she’ll lean the other 10%. Make the effort.  Keep finding ways to connect.  Keep Thinking!