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Just Be Nice. It Goes A Long Way.

25 Jun

 

It amazes me, really, how rude some people can be.

I mean, come on…I know it’s Monday and that most people don’t want to be at work but still…that’s no excuse for being mean to people.

I walk through the hallways and say good morning to everyone, always. And you know what? MAYBE 5 out of every 10 people acknowledge my presence. Like really?

Not. Cool.

And then out of those 5 that DON’T flat out ignore me, maybe 3 of them look at me as if I had told them I was going to stab them (which I’m not, obviously).

Dude, I just said good morning.

I just said hi.

I’m just being nice.

But we’re not used to that.

It seems to me that when it comes to work, people fail to remember how important it is to be nice to others. I know we all have deadlines. I know we’re all struggling with budgets. I know that we’re all working our tails off to get that next promotion so we can feel important.

But stop for a second and think about this…

If you’re mean, you’re not going to get very far. I mean, you can only pretend to be nice for a little while. Eventually, something will happen and you won’t be able to fake it anymore.

If you’re rude, if you’re a jerk, people will know.

And you know what? People tend to talk about their negative experiences a lot more often than they talk about their positive experiences.

So if you suck, people are going to talk about how much you suck, ALOT.

I know we’re at work, but work doesn’t have to be this constant battlefield of backstabbing and gossip and rude behavior.

It’s not worth it.

Go to work. Be nice to people. Make a difference.

It’s not that difficult.

Effective Use of Gen Y Talent…Why We Need to Look Beyond Job Descriptions

18 Jun
 
Companies are struggling these days. Times are tough. There’s a lot of work to be done, plenty of jobs that need to be filled, yet in many instances, there’s no money to fill them.
 
Well that’s a problem…
 
So how do we fix this? It’s simple, really.
 
We look beyond the confinements of job descriptions. 
 
Here’s the deal…
 
Employers complain about budget cuts and the inability to hire more workers, but more often than not, the issue isn’t that they LACK human resources.
 
They just aren’t using their resources properly.
 
When an employee is hired, it’s usually to fill a specific void within an organization and so they’re given a basic job description detailing their responsibilities. Fine. I get that…
 
But let’s say that employees discover that they can assist the organization in ways not described in their job descriptions? Can these descriptions be altered or are they set in stone?
 
What if employees have ideas that can potentially help your company? Do you shut them down or do you allow them to contribute?
 
Great organizations do the latter.
 

As a Gen Y worker, nothing’s been more frustrating than not being able to use my talents in the jobs that I’ve held. Usually, whenever I’ve had an idea or wanted to contribute in ways that go beyond the span of my job description, I’ve been shut down almost immediately. “That’s not your job”, “That’s not what we hired you to do.”

How annoying.

Unfortunately, that’s the attitude shared by many managers and as a result, they’re missing out on opportunities to optimize the impact of their human capital.

However, I HAVE been lucky to have some managers that understand this and they’ve been awesome. Those are the managers I want to work for. Those are the managers I want to work with. Those are the leaders that I admire.

But for the most part, managers aren’t using their Gen Y talent as they should. Many young professionals have so much to contribute but they aren’t allowed the opportunity as management insists that these workers need to simply “pay their dues“. They’re hired into entry-level positions and their responsibilities consist of making copies and scheduling meetings. No more, no less.

Well that’s dumb.

Because if an employee has an idea or can contribute to efforts that help meet the goals of the organization, who cares what their title is? Who cares that the task isn’t stated on their job description? Add it on there.

As long as employees are fulfilling the needs of the job they were hired to do, how is this an issue? Rather than seeing it as a problem, shouldn’t we be seeing this as an opportunity? I mean, employers ARE being asked to do more with less resources, aren’t they?

By limiting employees to the responsibilities listed on initial job descriptions, you’re doing your company a great disservice.

If you don’t want to completely toss the notion of job descriptions, that’s fine, I understand. But remember that theyaren’t engraved in stone. They’re not written in permanent marker.

They can and should be changed if you wish to get the most out of the people that you hired.

The talent is there. You just need to use it better.

Don’t Wait. Be Happy Now.

28 May

We’ve been lied to all our lives. You know that, right?

We’ve been taught, through society, through movies, through our parents even, that things are always going to be better in the future.

From as early as elementary school, we look at the middle schoolers and think they’re so cool. We can’t wait to be just like them. So we spend our days dreaming of what it’ll be like to be in middle school, failing to understand that those are some of the most awkward years of our lives.

Later when we make it past those awkward years, we’re in high school. As freshmen we look at the seniors and can’t freaking wait to be the oldest. We can’t wait to go to prom, our senior trip, for graduation even.

Then we’re seniors and we go to prom, we go on our senior trip, we graduate. But by the time we get there, we’re too busy focusing on college acceptance letters to really enjoy those things that we looked forward to for so many years.  It passes by just like that.

It’s kind of sad.

In college we bitch and complain about the amount of work we have to do. We hate being in the library, studying. We look forward to graduation. We think that it’ll all be better when we have jobs, when we’re making money. We’ll be working hard, but at least we’ll be making money. Surely, this is when we’ll be happy…

Then we finally get jobs! Most of us, anyway. And when people ask us if we’re happy we say something like…”well, not right now, but I know that once I get a promotion, I’ll be happy…this is an entry level job  and I hate it, but I’ve got to start somewhere.”

Then we get promoted and we’re still not satisfied.

So tell me, when are we happy?

Once I make partner…

Once I have a house…

Once I find a husband…

Once I have kids, that’s when everything will be okay.

Once I travel to Europe…

Once I get my Masters degree…

Once I get my PhD…

Now let’s see…

I, personally, haven’t done any of those things. So what does that mean? Does that mean that the past 21 years of my life have been a total waste? Because that would really suck.

It’s no secret that people want to be happy. There are 505682894735 million books written on happiness, the secret of happiness, how to understand happiness so you can be happy, etc. etc. etc.

So why aren’t we?!

I have a huge problem with people who tell me not to worry, that I have all the time in the world ahead of me to do the things I want to do. I hate it because it makes me focus so much on the future that in doing so, I lose sight of what’s in the present.

I think this happens to a lot of people.

So if you want to do something, please do it.

If you want to change careers, please do so.

If you want to get your masters, go for it.

If you want to start a company, who’s stopping you?

Just do it NOW and love every second of it.

But  in doing all the things you want to do, make sure that you’re actually living your life. Make sure that every day you stop for a second and appreciate everything that you have because it’ll pass you by and you”ll miss it.

You can be happy now. Today, not tomorrow. Not five years from now.

Happiness doesn’t depend upon your next accomplishment. Because if you’re awesome, you’re always going to have another success ahead of you, another milestone to reach.

And really, it would be such a tragedy to have never enjoyed life because you spent all your time thinking about the future.

Invest In Young Talent, It’s Worth It

23 May

I like money.

Not in the sense that I need a million dollars and not in the sense that I need to go shopping every day, but I do like shoes.

I’ll own these one day…

God, they’re gorgeous.

Okay, fine. I like to shop. But I do like to SAVE money more than I like to shop. I like to save a lot of it. This makes me happy.

Unfortunately, today’s economy is rather unpleasant and many people haven’t been able to save much money. So whenever I meet with my financial advisor, he tells me that I’m one of the lucky ones. He tells me that I have the luxury of saving now, from a young age, and that by the time I’m much older, I should be in a pretty good financial situation. My advisor tells me to buy stocks. He tells me to be aggressive.

Now while I know very little about stocks, I do understand the basic concept.

You buy them at a price. You sell them at a higher price. That’s how you make money.

So when you buy them for pennies and they end up being worth millions years later, that’s freaking awesome.

Well, that same concept applies to talent management.

Employers these days are missing out on great candidates as they continue making experience qualifications unrealistically high for recent grads. Like really, you don’t need three years of work experience to be an administrative assistant. You just don’t. But I won’t get into that right now.

Employers, here’s some advice that will allow you to attract and retain the best talent:

  1. Identify high potential candidates.
  2. Chase them aggressively.
  3. Then hire them.
  4. Then teach them.

Sure, they don’t have years and years of experience…How can they? THEY JUST GRADUATED!

But guess what? That’s great news for you! You know why?

Because you don’t have to pay them huge salaries to get the job done!

Give them that experience. Provide them with training. Allow them the opportunity to make something of their lives. That’s really all they want.

But before you feel like you’re doing these young professionals a favor by employing them, understand that it truly is a win-win situation for everyone involved. In regards to training, the more you teach your employees from a young age, the more they’ll know five years from now. The more they’ll be able to contribute in the future.

Think of your employees as retirement accounts. The more money or the more knowledge you put into them from an early age, the higher the likelihood that the payout will be large.

Fully embrace the idea of compound interest.

Buy your employees when they’re worth pennies and when they’re worth millions, they’ll contribute to your organization in BIG ways. Cultivate talent as early as possible. That’s how organizations become rich.

Invest in young talent, it’s worth it.

Young Women in the Workforce

11 May

So here’s the deal…

It’s rough being young and in the workforce.

But it appears that young WOMEN have it the hardest.

Why?

Because not only do we have to prove ourselves capable despite our age, but despite our gender too.

This is not okay.

I mean really, why is the notion that we’re young, intelligent women, so ridiculous? What do we have to do to gain respect from both our male and female colleagues?

It’s true that we’re young.

But we’re also hungry, ambitious, and yes, contrary to popular belief, many of us are smart.

Check out my full article featured in Urbane Sophisticate’s Women’s Issue——> here.

If you’re a young woman in the workforce, you may relate.

And if you’re not, you should still be aware of the hardships that we face.

Then, start taking us seriously.

*******************************************************************************************************

From Urbane Sophisticate’s Women’s Issue:

by: Kayla Cruz

I should have known that being a young woman in the workforce was not going to be easy. There were particularly obvious signs: my first, which I completely disregarded, took place my sophomore year in college. I remember sitting in class, making up an exam when my professor came up to me, a bit too close for comfort, and said, “You know, you’re going to have a hard time being taken seriously at work with legs like that.” I assure you he said that. Two years later, when interviewing for a new job, the hiring manager (who was a woman, for the record) looked at me, in my tailored Calvin Klein business dress, and said, “I’d like to hire you. But we’re going to have to put you in scrubs. I won’t have you walking around with those legs.”  That was my first career lesson: my legs are an issue.

It seems that Gen Y women entering the workforce today face a tremendous challenge in being taken seriously as professionals. Not only do we have to deal with negative stereotypes regarding our young age, but we also have to navigate the workforce as women and unfortunately, regardless of how far we’ve come, there are still some people that undermine our ability to take our careers seriously.

Most of us attend college for four years in hopes of landing our dream jobs upon graduating. We dream of making a difference, and becoming successful and powerful women, a goal we know that we’re perfectly capable of achieving. However, what we discover when we enter the workforce often does not meet up to these expectations. We find instead that most organizations are severely flawed in their infrastructures and make it nearly impossible for young women to attain the acknowledgement that they deserve. I know that for me, that was certainly the case.  I entered a male dominated workforce where I was perceived as an object of desire, incapable of possessing intellect. The understanding that I was a young and smart woman did not exist.

Nearly nothing I learned in college prepared me for what I encountered as a young woman in the workforce. During my first year as a professional, I faced sexual harassment on a daily basis. When men would approach me, it was hardly ever to talk about work, and it was never in a serious manner. They failed to respect me as an intellectual and that upset me. While I was flattered that men perceived me as desirable, what I wanted more than anything was to be acknowledged for my talents and the knowledge that I possessed.

This longing to be respected in our careers that we, as Generation Y, bring to the workforce is not a bad thing. However, when added to our naiveté, it makes us prime targets for sexual harassment, which I learned first hand. In this case, one that occurs way too often, a young woman becomes frustrated because no one seems to respect her work. Then comes along a male superior who assures her that he does see her value. He then takes a “special interest” in her and ensures that her career development is given high priority.  She is given new projects and challenging work and she is happy until said superior is calling her at 3 a.m. demanding her resignation because she failed to report to his apartment that evening. 

To add to this is the sad reality that a young woman is seldom able to take credit for her success. As she advances in her career, she is automatically perceived as “the girl that slept with her boss.”  It is seemingly unfathomable that a young woman may succeed based on her own hard work.  What people struggle to understand is that women are just as capable as men in the workforce.  Add to that factor a young age and it is nearly impossible to be taken seriously, to be perceived as anything other than an executive’s secretary. I don’t aspire to be a secretary. I want much more than that and I will spend my entire career making sure that I am known for my intellect and the outstanding work I produce, not just for my legs.

Being young in the workforce today is difficult. Generation Y is striving to make employers aware of the fact that they are capable of doing serious work, beyond the process of making copies and other clerical duties. They yearn for challenging work and want to be seen as equal teammates by their colleagues. It appears that young women have it the hardest. We have to prove ourselves capable despite our age and our gender. But why is the notion that we are young, intelligent women, so ridiculous? What do we have to do to gain respect from both our male and female colleagues? It is true that we are young, but we are also hungry, ambitious, and yes, contrary to popular belief, many of us are smart.

How to Get Along With Older Coworkers

17 Apr

Okay, I’ve said it before…being the youngest person in the office SUCKS.

It’s been tough, working in an environment where most people are even older than my parents.

For any of you that can relate, you know how easy it is to sit around complaining about how terrible it is, sulking in your forever alone-ness. That’s what I did for a while. But then it came to a point where I was like you know what? I have to deal with these people for 40 hours a week so let me see how I can get these people to like me.

Here are some things I tried…

1. Make them think they’re geniuses. Even if they’re not.  In general, older workers have a difficult time adapting to new employees, in particular, new YOUNG employees. Us college grads enter the workforce and we’re automatically perceived as those bratty kids that think they know it all. And so, a lot of older workers don’t like us. Some of them are  insecure and feel that we’re going to steal their jobs. Some feel that they have something to prove. Others are just mean. (If you’re one of these people, please do everyone a favor and go take a vacation…just saying). So let them think they’re awesome. Tell them they’re awesome.  Reach out to your older coworkers and make sure that they feel that you value their wisdom. It’ll make them feel important and they’ll be less likely to hate you.

2. Find something you have in common. Working with people twice and three times your age is um…not really fun sometimes. Why? Because it’s hard to find common interests. Let’s see…Grandkids? Negative. House? Negative. Cooking? Negative (but I’m learning). Perhaps I’ll just complain about how much homework my non-existant children have. 

I do have a cat though and yes, he’s a  model…

So I’d talk about my cat with my coworkers. And for a while, that’s about all I had in common with these people. I spent weeks trying to figure out what the heck else I could talk about. Then I found something that I had in common with about 97% of the people in my office!!!! I was so happy I could cry! What was it? What’s this bond that we all share that makes me feel like I have something to talk about with the people I spend all day with?!?!?

I can crochet.

Don’t judge me…I learned how to crochet blankets in high school. We would make them and donate them to kids with Cancer. And yes, it was a very cool thing to do, thank you very much. God, I feel old now. But you see, point is that regardless of how completely different you think you are from everyone else you work with, if you look hard enough, I’m sure you can find at least ONE common interest. But please, don’t pop out a baby just so you have something to talk about with your coworkers.

3. Ask them about their youth. One of the things I’ve discovered while working with people much older than me is that for some reason, they tend to love sharing stories from when they were young. They like telling you that when they were teenagers they dated guys 10 years older than them. They like telling you that they used to sneak out of their houses to party. They like telling you about the time that they drove home completely wasted and stumbled into their bed and are somehow miraculously alive to tell the story. Whether it makes them feel young again, or whether they’re simply trying to relate to you, either way, it’s not a bad thing. So just listen to their stories. Ask them questions. Some of them could be interesting and you might actually end up learning a thing or two about life.

4. When all else fails, bring them food. Everyone likes free food. It’s hard to NOT like the person in the office that brings the free food. For that reason, I tend to bring in breakfast a lot. So do this and people will  love you… Until they see you stuffing 3 donuts in your mouth and then feel the need to make some resentful remark about how you should enjoy your fast metabolism now, while you still can.

Working in a multigenerational workforce can be kind of awkward at times. So make an effort to move past generational differences and stereotypes. Because I think that if we do this, if we let go of the resentment and ill feelings, we’ll find that we can all learn a lot from each other.

I promise, we’re not as awful as you think.

Hey World, Give Us a Chance

12 Apr

How freaking annoying it is when you’re looking for a job and you see these dreaded words:

YEARS OF EXPERIENCE REQUIRED: (some ridiculous amount of years)

Hey geniuses…how can I get any experience if every job requires experience?

It seems to me that some employers place more emphasis on the years of experience someone possesses as opposed to the value that they contribute to their team.

THIS IS CRAZY TO ME!!!

So that’s what I explained to Tim Sackett, writer at Fistful of Talent.

While he advocates that us young professionals gain experience through working crappy, entry level jobs, I tell him that we’re not really into that.

Check out the post HERE where I explain to him the following:

Talent, ability, and leadership potential have one thing in common…they have NOTHING to do with age.

Jobs Are Like Boyfriends (and Girlfriends)…It’s Okay to Get a New One

10 Apr

My friend’s boyfriend is an idiot. I mean, honestly, I have no idea what she sees in him. He treats her terribly, he’s not good for her, and no, his looks don’t compensate for his behavior. So why does she stay with him?

I found this quote by Johnny Depp that seems to answer my question. Turns out that in addition to being one very sexy pirate, the man is a genius…

“I think when you’re young, you’re hoping that this person will be the right one, the one you’re going to be in love with forever. But sometimes you want that so much that you create something that really isn’t there.”

Well…umm…I know I’ve done that before.

And I know that no one’s interested in my romantic failures but this same concept applies to work.

You see, we go to college and immediately have to decide what to study. Yes, while some of us can’t even do our own laundry, we have to pretty much decide what we want to do with our lives. No pressure.

Then we graduate and we’re forced to find jobs so we don’t starve to death.  But in our job search, we think and we hope that the first job we get will be the perfect one. We want it to work out so badly.

We believe that it HAS to work out.

Let’s take me for example. I went to school and got my degree in Health Services Administration. While in school, I landed a job as a secretary at hospital. That made sense. But you know what? Now that I’ve been working for about two years, I realize that there are a lot of other things that I like. There are a lot of other things that I’d rather be doing.

Look job, it’s not you, it’s me. I don’t think we’re as compatible as I once thought.

So I have a choice. I can either create something that really isn’t there and force myself to like it or I can realize that it’s not working and move on, knowing that there has to be something better.

I think a lot of people feel this way. A lot of people land jobs immediately after graduation and think, “this is it.” A few weeks, months, sometimes years later, they realize that they’re not happy.  But instead of doing something about it, they settle.

And what happens? By the age of 25 they get hit in the face with this lovely thing called the quarter life crisis which isn’t nearly as fun as the mid life crisis because at 25 people are broke and can’t afford to buy convertibles.

So listen, it’s okay if you graduate and your first “dream job” turns out to be an epic fail. CONGRATS! You’re one step closer to finding something you DO like. Try to learn as much as you can from every job you have. That’s what this time is for. This is the time to figure out what you like, what you don’t like, what you’re good at, what you suck at, etc. So don’t be afraid to acknowledge that what you’re doing isn’t the right fit for you and that you need something different. It doesn’t make YOU a failure.

Because really,

If your job doesn’t challenge you…

If your job doesn’t interest you…

If your job doesn’t make you a better person…

And if your job is causing you to consume excessive amounts of alcohol…

Then it might be time to break up. And I know it’s hard. I know it’s hard thinking that you invested so much time into that degree that’s hanging on your wall. So many freaking papers and exams. So many all-nighters. How can you possibly think of doing anything different?

Understand that sometimes things just don’t work out. It sucks, I know. But you know what? It’s better to accept that you need a new job and find something that you DO love as opposed to spending years and years being a bitter and miserable a-hole.

Too many people stay in relationships that don’t make them happy. Too many people stay in jobs that they hate. Is that really what you want? To spend 15 years at a job that you hate? I definitely don’t.

Because at the end of the day, pretending to love something or someone when you actually don’t is very stressful. And quite honestly, I don’t want to be stressed because stress causes wrinkles and botox is expensive.

Work Lessons From The Hunger Games

3 Apr

So by now I’m sure everyone’s tired of hearing about the Hunger Games. But too bad. I’m still going to write about it. Yea, there are a lot of people annoyed by yet another teen love triangle but I have to say, I picked up some essential business lessons while watching the movie and paying $17 for popcorn and a soda.

Here are some of them…

Work Lessons From The Hunger Games

Food For Hungry Gen Y

2 Apr

Okay so a week ago I wrote about Gen Y being hungry.

Yes, some of them are starving. Generation Y is entering the workforce with strong drive, much ambition, and they’re eager to put their talents to use.

One problem though. You see this?…

There seems to be a lack of it these days.

So if we can’t give these new workers more $$$, how can management ensure that they retain their top talent?

It’s simple really. You just have to make them feel important. So here are some ways to do that:

1. Put them on a committee- Okay I get that you can’t give everyone more money and you can’t give everyone a promotion. That’s understandable. But how about you give these eager workers the opportunity to serve on a committee? How does this hurt an organization? Newsflash! It doesn’t. Instead, it engages workers and allows them the opportunity to feel like they’re participating in something. To feel like their opinions matter.

2. Give them exposure- Introduce them to people. They love this! At a time when they’re just beginning to build their networks, they really appreciate the opportunity to meet new people. As a manager, it’s your job to build up your staff. Find ways for your employees to connect with other people within or outside your organization. Oh and you want them to really love working for you? Give them a business card.

3. Take them with you to a meeting- How is this a bad thing? You know, there’s definitely value in having a fresh perspective. Chances are, these new employees haven’t been to many and while most experienced workers dread going to these painful meetings, eager Gen Y will love just being given the opportunity to learn.

4. Give them an important project- I honestly believe that the perfect kind of job for GenY is project management. Here is why.

5. Teach them work you usually do- Why not? You know there have to be a million annoying things about your job that you wish someone could help you with. So delegate! But teach them at the same time. Give them some background. Help them understand the process. This way, they’ll feel that what they’re doing is meaningful. Plus, it’s work that you’re usually responsible for so they’ll understand that it’s important.

Believe me, hungry employees will certainly appreciate these efforts and they’ll be more likely to stay within your organization. These are the employees you want to mentor. These are the employees that you want to grow. And really, keeping them satisfied and motivated is a win-win situation for everyone.

But many employers don’t get this. So instead they have talented young workers frustrated beyond belief because they spend their time making copies, taking minutes and perfecting the art of making coffee.

These people will leave.

Remember how LeBron James announced that he was going to be moving to the Heat? Yea, that’s what these workers will do. They’ll take their talents elsewhere. They’ll take their talents to organizations that value them.

And it’ll cost you.

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