All posts tagged workplace

Really Different or Rarely Different?

I hate labels such as “Millennials” – a term first coined by Strauss & Howe in their book Generations.

My wife asked me to write an article on Millennials in the Workplace. The general definition of Millennials seems to be those born between 1980 and 2000. Now, I am in the habit of doing (almost) everything my wife asks of me, but why me? I doubt I have anything more to add to the myriad of opinions out there. Everyone has a position on the topic, and none of the research is conclusive. I have spent the last week having an internal debate in my head and thinking of reasons why I should not do this. I can’t justify turning down my wife…

So here are my Generation X (generally born between 1960 and 1980) observations, solely within the workplace.

This is based upon what I have observed, what I feel etc., not scientific conclusions, just my biased non-researched views. So there, you can’t challenge me for this article. And, by the way, what qualifies me as remotely capable of writing down my views? Probably because I have three Millennials as kids and that I work with about 30 of them at Wazee Digital every day.

The way I think about Millennials in the Workplace is to begin by understanding what they faced when they entered the workplace. Yes, there could be all sorts of psychological factors that influenced them prior to that. However, I focus on what they faced from about 2005 to 2010 when the earliest group of them left their college and protective parent years behind and entered the workplace. Not quite losing the generational lottery, but during this short 5-year period here is what they generally saw:

  • Global Financial Crises & the Mortgage Loan debacle
  • Many of their parents unemployed and or savings depleted
  • Disastrous and costly Middle East Wars
  • Climate Change and an Environmental mess
  • Political gridlock
  • Corporate scandals
  • Resurgent China and offshoring depressing wages
  • Terrorism close to home

As I think about it, the only things Generation X have provided Millennials that provide great utility are: The Internet, the cellphone & e-commerce.

So, I totally understand why Millennials often exhibit a high degree of skepticism and distrust with Generation X. Estimates say that by 2020, nearly half of all workers in the workplace will be Millennials. I believe all workplaces have this unavoidable Millennial/Gen X combination – typically with Gen X as management and Millennial as non-management. Workplaces will have to understand these factors and challenge the traditional management/employee dynamic. For me, the cornerstone is all about inspiring the Millennials, understanding the different views and avoiding stereotypes.

While I agreed with my wife to write an article (short) not an essay (long), let me close by listing all the disparaging terms I hear about Millennials and give you my opinion as they relate to the workplace: They..

  • Have a lesser work ethic than Gen X – untrue. You are not inspiring them.
  • Want to do meaningful work – true. What’s wrong with that?
  • Have been so sheltered – why is this even relevant? If it’s true it’s the Gen X’s fault – so fix it.
  • Are overconfident – great.
  • Provide immediate candid feedback – who wants to work with folks who “suffer in silence” anyway?
  • Think communicating is texting – true. Texting and email are great for information sharing but awful for convincing or relationship building.
  • See supervisors as mentors not bosses – yes, Gen X’ers they actually want your help!
  • Are over entitled – sometimes. Probably because Gen X parents over protected them and are not finding that “air-cover” in the workplace.
  • Don’t have a defined career path – fair point. Keep encouraging and give them freedom to explore.
  • Value job satisfaction over financial rewards – correct. But the Gen X obsession with money has not worked out so well.
  • Look for a better work/life balance – correct. Why not? Travel, health, and rest are proven to provide more productive employees.
  • Don’t trust management – correct. Most Gen X management teams have not earned this trust.
  • Change jobs when the going gets tough – fair point. This is one the Millennials must own. The grass is rarely greener.
  • Don’t ascribe to Corporate Values – partially true. But most corporate values are BS anyway.
  • Rudely multi-task – yes, Millennials (and a number of Gen X’ers) you are guilty as charged. You can’t fully participate in a conversation and have one eye on your phone.
  • Have a strong BS detection antennae – correct. They sniff this out very well.
  • Have a greater sense of community purpose – correct. Companies should be part of the societies in which they live. Millennials are challenging companies to turn this from an annual report fable into a true commitment.

Hopefully my views can form part of the beginning of a generational understanding in the workplace not the end of the debate. Yet most of all, I hope that Millennials have the courage to mimic the Gen X strengths and learn from our Gen X’s many mistakes – so that they can preserve my social security benefits for years to come!

Mark A. Pougnet | COO and CFO

Transform Your Age into an Asset

Roberta Gamza, Career Ink ( | © 2018

If you’re an experienced professional above 50, you’ve likely had a few concerns about age discrimination in the workplace. Going out into the job market at any point in your career increases anxiety levels and adding age discrimination just makes the task even more daunting.

Age discrimination is illegal, but we all know it happens, so how can you counter it and land an interview where you can show them what you can do?

It starts with a powerful, compelling resume that gets you the interview. It is imperative that your resume is targeted to the job and the company – the content must be meaningful and relevant to the employer. It must demonstrate your knowledge and skills. Pack your resume with keywords and display accomplishments that are powerful, quantified, and state the benefit the company derived.

Don’t go back to the beginning of time with your resume, 10-15 years should do it. It’s not a history of your career, but rather a marketing brochure demonstrating the value you were to previous employers while predicting your future value to employers. An earlier experience that is relevant can be included on the resume, but it does not need to be dated. It can be mentioned in a profile, summary, or an early career section.

If you are job hunting, you are going to be googled. It is an absolute must that you have a LinkedIn profile today that aligns with your resume. Just because LinkedIn will always ask for more information, does not mean you have to fill in earlier and earlier jobs. Use a flattering picture that judiciously shaves off a few years, but don’t get extreme here by using a picture that shows you 20 years younger.

We live in a social media world and while millennials may be finding jobs with Twitter, Facebook, and even Instagram, if you are not comfortable doing so, don’t. But certainly, educate yourself on these social media platforms and get comfortable talking about them.

Keep yourself technologically savvy — up to date with technology in general, but most importantly the technology and trends in your profession and industry. Stay current, get necessary certifications, or take refreshers if your certifications or any of your training is dated.

Don’t forget about current software and applications. Consider enrolling in local classes or take the online classes (LinkedIn Learning), look at the software’s demonstrations, take their tutorials, or download free trials to boost your knowledge.

If you demonstrate that you are continuing to learn and getting better every day on your resume, in phone screenings, and during the interview, your extensive experience can become an asset.

5 Common Workplace Myths

Everyone brings ideas about what’s “good” and “bad” in the workplace. Your ideas about how you are supposed to perform your role will affect not only the company and the team, they will affect you too! While some employees choose to stress out, check out, just wing it, stay in a rut or keep their mouth shut, wise, professional employees keep it together, stay focused and contribute. If any of these 5 workplace myths are directing your actions at work, you might want to reconsider your ideas of what’s “good” and “bad”.

Multi-tasking is the best way to go: Just because you can do more than one thing at a time doesn’t mean it’s effective. If you are splitting your attention between a phone call and an email, odds are good you are not going to be focused enough to take in the details of either task. You tune out your conversation while you’re typing your email, or send your email while you’re talking and lose focus that would allow you to catch your mistakes. Especially if you have a lot of work to do, do one task at a time. If you’re multi-tasking, you might limit your ability to get the job done effectively. Stay focused, and each part of your work will turn out better. And, you’ll save yourself the stress of juggling too many things at once.

It’s OK for you to chat with your friends at work: You may have close and long-lasting friendships with your coworkers. If you do, keep them professional. Don’t give preferential treatment to your friends or exclude other team members. Establish clear boundaries that will help you and your friends stay out of deep or personal territory, and keep your actions and discussions professional.

You don’t need to track your work because you know what you’re doing: Chances are you have a lot of individual tasks, processes and deliverables tugging at your attention. If you’re not keeping track of what needs to happen, and when, you might miss important details. You’ll be more productive if you plan your day ahead of time and group similar tasks to create a more streamlined workflow. If mornings are the most hectic, plan your day at the end of the previous weekday – or vice versa. Having your tasks and timelines mapped out will keep you on track when there is so much work to do that it’s hard to think.

It’s better if you stay in your comfort zone: Most jobs are routine. If you’re not careful, you might think that you should stay right where you are, doing exactly what you’re doing, just the way you’re doing it. Things are working, right? Everything is fine. However, coming out of your comfort zone is important – as a push toward professional and personal growth. To push the envelope a bit, reinvent processes to make your work more accurate or efficient, volunteer for projects or tasks that pose a challenge, ask a supervisor for direction on expanding your knowledge. Learning new skills makes your mind stronger, and spreading your wings a little might help you create professional connections. Of course, you need to be a reliable and focused employee, but while you’re at it, push your limits.

Being assertive will get you in trouble: The professional environment is a collaborative space. Though some team members are more ‘senior’ than others, each person has unique knowledge and perspective to contribute. There are times when stating what you think, want or believe in can be intimidating. If the stage isn’t set for smooth and easy dialogue, you might need to be assertive. But don’t worry. Assertive doesn’t mean aggressive, or that you should deny other’s rights to state their opinions. It just means to stand firm and thoughtfully (and calmly) state your ideas and suggestions. Take an active part in the discussion and advocate for change when it’s needed.

The rules you follow at work can support, or hinder, your Professional success. Your attitude, methods and personal style can allow you to contribute your best at work, become a valued member of the team and grow your skills. You spend a lot of time at work. You might as well make good use of it!

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