Piling On The Millennial Generation (Part 2)

How does one create an environment in which Millennial newbies coming up in the organization can hone the skills they’ll need to fill your shoes?

Here are a handful of ideas:

Don’t get angry when a Millennial asks “why.”

According to the stereotype, Millennials obsessively need to know the reason behind everything they’re asked to do. (As a leader, you should strive to avoid the word “why” when questioning a subordinate in order to facilitate useful, two-way communication, but that’s another blog.)

What if “why” comes at you from below, perhaps in the form of the question, “Hey boss, why are we doing this?”

Many bosses don’t react well when asked “why” from a subordinate. However, instead of becoming defensive or angry that an uppity employee asked you a question, you should sincerely process what he asked.

Why DOES the organization do what it does? Is it because that’s the way it’s always been done? Are there processes that used to be valuable, but now function mostly as time-wasting busywork?

If you can’t provide an immediate and valid answer to the question “why do we do this?” then you as the boss are the one with the problem, not your inquisitive Millennial employee.

In fact, you should be actively canvassing your employees to ask them what they think so that they don’t have to throw a “why” at you. Nobody in your organization has a better notion of what processes are worthwhile and which aren’t than the people who are down in the trenches actually performing them. The more you know about the tactical operations of your business, the better strategic decisions you’ll be able to make.

Don’t buy into the argument that “they all got trophies and now they all want to be the CEO without putting in the time or work”

This is nonsense on stilts. Rational people don’t equate receiving a keepsake for having played on the U10 soccer team with being owed a corner office as an adult.   First of all, don’t think that the kids don’t know who really won the game. They know. They might be kids, but they’re not stupid. Secondly, there have always been, and will always be people who feel like they’re owed more than what the rest of the world thinks they’re owed. The Millennial generation didn’t invent this phenomenon.

The answer from a leadership perspective is to publish, in writing, the organization’s rules, procedures and expectations as clearly as possible, effectively “putting your brain on paper.” Once everyone knows what the boundaries are and what success looks like, it suddenly becomes much easier to talk to them about how their behavior at work equates to their station in life.   “You did X. Sally did Y. The procedures value Y. Therefore, Sally received a promotion and you did not.”

The other option is to keep that information in your head, or worse, to make it up on the fly. Doing this puts your employees in a position in which they’re trying to read your mind to figure out what they need to do, maybe even from day to day. The delusional ones, regardless of their generational label, will think that they’re doing great and deserve the corner office. The solid ones will often think they’re not doing enough.

Don’t equate a desire for work-life balance with weakness

Millennials are thought to value work-life balance over traditional markers of success, such as compensation and lofty titles. Because of that, Millennials won’t spend 40+ years at the same company working their way up from the mailroom to the boardroom. Instead, they hop from job to job leaving as soon as a perceived better deal pops up, or simply dump the job entirely in favor of a last-minute flight to Ibiza.

Once again, Millennials didn’t invent this phenomenon. For instance, in my decades of experience in the Air Force, I’ve watched fighter pilots make the choice to leave the service for an airline cockpit for a perceived better quality of life. People have always and will always make personal life decisions based on their subjective view of the benefits of their alternatives.

The Internet, social media in particular, has made the world so small that each of us has a bead on nearly every opportunity out there the nanosecond it pops up, thus making it easier, more appealing, to jump from one to the next. Millennials have only known this instant-access world, but the technology affects everyone. Plenty of Gen-Xers are out there online looking for the bigger, better deals too.

The answer for you as the boss lies in the two previous recommendations. Don’t be afraid to make changes that affect quality of life, and always make the rules visible to everyone.

For instance, when an employee asks “Why don’t we create a flex-schedule so I can work from noon to 8pm?” don’t take it as insubordination. Really think about it. If it doesn’t negatively affect the organization, put it in writing so everyone knows the rules and give it a try.

Doing out-of-the-box things that makes people happy (and thus, more productive) doesn’t make you seem weak. On the flip side, holding on to the old ways for no other reason than to simply manifest your dominance makes you look like a tyrant.

I’m not arguing that there isn’t a grain of truth to the Millennial stereotype. However, I think that the stereotype is an observation of human nature more than an accident of birthdate. Human nature doesn’t change, but the environment does. Gen-Xers grew up as latchkey kids watching MTV, and their behavior reflected their reaction to that environment. Millennials have grown up with the Internet and social media, and their behavior reflects that as well.

To be the most effective boss you can be, you need to adapt your style to get the most from the individuals who walk through the door, regardless of the stereotype they bring with them.

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About the author:

Lt Col Jeff Orr serves as a veteran F-16 instructor pilot for the US Air Force. An expert on high-stress training environments, elite performance, mindset management, and the development of unstoppable organizational cultures, Orr shares his many insights on panels, stages, and in workshops. You can reach him at jefforraz@gmail.com.

Piling On The Millennial Generation (Part 1)

Millennials. They’re easy to make fun of–precious snowflakes who’ve always been given a medal just for showing up. They’re brittle and self-absorbed narcissists who wile away their days sending selfies to one another on social media rather than doing productive things like building railroads and tilling fields or something.

Here’s the thing; all of the above “common knowledge” is actually utter nonsense. Take this from a guy who was told in the late 80s-early 90s that as a member of Generation X, he was a slacker completely uncommitted to anything. If you believed the predominant narrative back then, I, along with tens of millions of my fellow Gen-X’ers, grew up as latchkey kids, our minds poisoned by drivel pumped out by MTV. The world was going to hell in a handbasket because I and my generational cohorts were destined to let society collapse while we were glued to the couch mesmerized by this week’s episode of Real World.

Never mind the fact that as an 18-year-old, I entered the Air Force Academy fully committed to become a warrior dedicated to protecting the world from the evils of Communism. On the day I set foot on the Terrazzo, Ronald Reagan was still president and the Berlin Wall still stood and would for another year and a half.

I dressed like a typical Gen-X’er, watched MTV and used the buzz phrases popular at the time, but not surprisingly, I didn’t think in lockstep with tens of millions of strangers. I was no slacker and neither were the vast majority of the people my age that I knew personally.

I was an 18-year-old though. I derived my entire worldview up to that point from information that had been filtered through other peoples’ experiences—parents, teachers, friends, and media personalities. I possessed some highly developed notions about how the world worked. The fact that those thoughts were entirely theoretical wouldn’t stop me from providing a highly emotional argument in their defense should they be challenged from some old codger from the Baby Boomer generation. What do those guys know anyway?

When I hear people complaining about Millennials, I usually find that their anger is misplaced. The generational stereotype provides an easy bogeyman, but it’s ridiculous to think that tens of millions of people share an identical thought process simply because they were born between two arbitrary dates.

What they’re really complaining about, these codgers, is youth, offering the same these-kids-don’t-know-how-good-they-have-it argument that has persisted since time immemorial. (I’m sure at one point a group of elder cavemen sat around bemoaning the fact that their offspring were soft because, unlike when they were young, their kids had access to fire—“Back in our day, we ate our saber tooth tiger COLD, the way it was MEANT to be eaten!”)

The answer to the “problem” of youth doesn’t lie in lumping all of the young people into a catchall category and then griping that 80 million people are irredeemably flawed. The answer lies in providing effective mentoring and leadership.

It’s not them. It’s you.

It’s you who needs create an environment in which the newbies coming up in the organization hone the skills they’ll need to in order to fill your shoes later just like every generation has done before you.

Up next: three tips for being that mentor.

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About the author:

Lt Col Jeff Orr serves as a veteran F-16 instructor pilot for the US Air Force. An expert on high-stress training environments, elite performance, mindset management, and the development of unstoppable organizational cultures, Orr shares his many insights on panels, stages, and in workshops. You can reach him at jefforraz@gmail.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hiring Managers v. Hiring Leaders

I recently published a post with the title “Are You the Bottleneck of Your Company’s Growth?” where I briefly talked about hiring managers vs. hiring leaders.

I felt the urge to dive deeper into that topic because it’s so essential to a company’s growth as well as fulfillment at work.

Unfortunately, our educational system today teaches us to become managers.

Don’t ask too many questions. Don’t color outside the lines. There is only a right or a wrong answer. If you don’t follow the instructions, you will be banned.

When we get out of school, we get into a corporate environment where being a manager is rewarded even though it creates little value.

One of my clients recently published an amazing book, called The Healthcare Heretic, that goes alongside with what I’m talking about here.

What Managers Do For Your Company

When you’re hiring a manager, you essentially create a function inside of clear boundaries and then look for somebody who can fit into these boundaries and will stay inside of them.

This creates several problems.

You are the only person responsible. Managers don’t take responsibility, so you have to. They follow your instructions and will wait for your orders.

Therefore, you limit yourself to your own ideas and creativity. You force people to keep running at 5% of their potential.

And of course, you always have to be there when the shit hits the fan. You have to make sure nobody makes a mess. And if they do, you have to make sure the mess gets cleaned up.

Even as I write this, I get tired when I have to think about managing managers.

What Leaders Do For Your Company

First of all, you will rarely attract leaders by having a job ad up there saying what skills you are looking for.

Leaders don’t look for a job. They look for an opportunity to grow and contribute. They look for a vision that overlays with theirs where they can bring in their superpowers to create something exponentially bigger together.

Now that this is clear let’s talk about what’s in it for you.

Leaders don’t fill holes in the pie. They make the pie bigger.

Leaders come in with their own vision and ideas for what’s possible. This enables you do give responsibility instead of just giving people things to do.

Can you feel the relief of not having to be the only person in charge all the time?

Leaders create opportunities you would never have come up with by yourself. They bring products and services to market you thought could never work. They expand into markets you did not even know you wanted to expand into before meeting them.

Hiring Leaders Requires a Strong Vision

Here’s the hook, the string attached you have been waiting to know about.

If your company and you as the CEO don’t have a strong vision, one that inspires, how can you expect to attract true leaders?

There will be no leaders showing up at your doorstep if you don’t show up as a true leader first.

And by vision, I don’t mean boring corporate talk or something like “Our vision is to become the biggest company in our industry.”

Who cares?

A vision is something that inspires the heck out of people. It’s something people gravitate towards. It’s something you gravitate towards.

Here’s a great post from Richard Branson on vision and mission.

If you think to yourself “I’ve built a successful company but I’m not fully clear what that bigger vision is,” reach out and let’s have a conversation.

Being Average vs. Being Outstanding

Being average feels safe, it doesn’t stretch your comfort zone, and it’s cozy.

Unfortunately, being average leads to average results.

Being outstanding requires bravery, grit and stretches you in all directions.

Being outstanding is where, not only the success but also the fulfillment that comes with feeling successful comes from.

Some people decide to be average, and that’s fine as long as they don’t expect anything else than average results.

Other people decide it’s time to become more.

The choice is up to us.

The question we have to ask ourselves is “Who will I see when I look in the mirror when I’m 80 years old?” and “Will I be happy with the choices I made?”

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About the Author:

Daniel Jordi is a Visionary Connector who is on a mission to bring humanity back into our business world.

On that journey, he has advised hundreds of leaders and entrepreneurs to create a system for building trust with high-level decision makers, that gradually evolves these decision makers from connections into collaborations.

If you want to make evolving your connections into collaborations more effective and authentic, apply for a Strategy Call here.

Danger Danger

The desire for safety stands against every great and noble enterprise. –Tacitus

Danger. And opportunity.

Risk. And reward.

I thought about these things as I was watching the Weather Channel from the warmth of the Dunkin Donuts… just before my wife, Ann, and I headed off into the White Mountains for a day of climbing.

The weather folks – all wearing arctic gear and carrying yardsticks – were sounding the alarm: a nor’easter bearing down; a dangerous storm; a storm of historic proportions. Cataclysmic even.

Buy batteries; and flashlights; stock up with food and water; stay inside; hide out; don’t move.

We moved. And climbed and laughed and shivered. The wind tossed us around. But we experienced the beauty and the grandeur and the power of the storm. We connected with the mountains we so love; and with each other. We had a blast.

The Chinese symbol for danger is also read as opportunity.

The truth is, there is no reward without some risk.

But sadly, as a culture, we’re told that risk is bad. Playing it safe is “in.”

Insure everything; protect it all; risk nothing.

But here’s another sad truth: When we play it safe, we play small.

It is those who have dared to push beyond the boundaries in medicine, science and technology; those who have dared to defy the odds in adventure, athletics and exploration; those not concerned by perception or bound by convention; who lead the charge, who make the breakthroughs, give us wonder, and reap rewards.

In every recession giants of industry and enterprise have been created. In every market crash millionaires are made.

In every arena victory belongs to those who confront their fears and, in the face of failure, in the face of risk, step boldly forth.

Meg Cabot writes, “Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear. The brave may not live forever, but the cautious do not live at all.

Leadership expert Robin Sharma says, “Do work that scares you (If you’re not uncomfortable often, you’re not growing very much.” As entrepreneurs, he says, “We’re paid to be scared. We’re paid to play out on the edges.”

The message of my own book Journeys on the Edge is that life is lived most poignantly out there; that we come most alive out there on that edge.

Of course, we can cower. And many will. But none of us will get out of this thing called life alive.

So why not dare to dream; dare to live out loud; dare to play full out?

Dare to make your life extraordinary.

Eleanor Roosevelt said, “Do one thing every day that scares you.”

What will it be for you today?

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The handsome Walt HamptonAbout the author:

Walt Hampton is the President and Chief Operating Officer of Book Yourself Solid® Worldwide, an internationally acclaimed motivational speaker, success coach, and bestselling author of “Journeys on the Edge: Living a Life That Matters.”

He delivers high-impact, multimedia keynotes at high schools, on college campuses, at corporate events and at gatherings of professional associations.

To find out more about Walt, click here to visit his website.

Have You Gone Off the Rails?

This is the end of the line for most folks. This is where the cart goes off the track.

Despite the most heartfelt resolutions, despite whatever the best intentions might have been, most folks give up on their New Year’s promises to themselves… right about now.Screenshot 2016-02-09 14.41.24

Not because they didn’t mean what they said.

Not because they didn’t want to change… because they did.

Not because they don’t have dreams for a better life… because they do.

But because life gets in the way.

I know. I was a single dad for a dozen years raising three young boys. I would get up (too late) in the morning, run around getting dressed, getting the kids up, finding the lost socks, and the lost homework, making the lunches, packing the lunches, unpacking and re-packing the back-packs, running the kids to school, tearing off to my office, arriving (too) late to gather up my files, speeding off to court, tying my tie in the rearview mirror and balancing the coffee in my lap (and spilling it), getting the call from daycare to come back because the kid had a 103º fever or head lice or both, scheduling parent-teacher meetings in between client calls, rushing off to soccer practice, making dinner, mitigating the fights, helping with the homework, returning emails and phone calls, and falling into bed exhausted and depleted… only to wake up the next day and do it all over again.

I know.

But change can happen. (I know this too.) What you really, really want in your heart matters. Your hopes and dreams and aspirations matter. They are the call of your Spirit, the Divine within you, to live your best life; to share those gifts that are yours and yours alone to share with the world in the most perfect way possible.

And it’s not too late. (It’s never too late.) Yes, January may be over. And nearly half of February. But the canvas of this New Year still awaits you.

Here’s what’s true: All you need to do is apply a very basic success principle, one of the easiest of all success principles. Take tiny, tiny steps.

  • At just 1 pound a week, you’ll still lose more than 40 pounds this year
  • At just 1 page a day, you’ll have well over 300 pages for your book
  • At just 1 watercolor a week, you could mount an entire show
  • One job application a day is 30 in a month
  • One extra sales conversation every single day might double your sales

Take that tiny step today. Just for today. And then do it again. And again the next day. Small steps magnified by time leading to magnificent results.

But today, just think about this day. And take just one tiny step forward.

Remember, races are run one stride at a time; businesses built one product at a time, one customer at a time, one sale at a time; mountains are climbed one step at a time; novels written one sentence at a time; symphonies written one measure at a time; and cathedrals built over generations one stone at a time.

Go back to the beginning of the year, and remember why it was that you wanted to set out on your path. Reclaim that grand vision of that perfect life that is yours.

In every moment of danger, there is also opportunity.

Opportunity still waits for you.

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The handsome Walt HamptonAbout the author:

Walt Hampton is the President and Chief Operating Officer of Book Yourself Solid® Worldwide, an internationally acclaimed motivational speaker, success coach, and bestselling author of “Journeys on the Edge: Living a Life That Matters.”

He delivers high-impact, multimedia keynotes at high schools, on college campuses, at corporate events and at gatherings of professional associations.

To find out more about Walt, click here to visit his website.

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