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Baby Boomers vs Millennials at Work

Conflicts among team members are not unusual. Deadlines, scarce resources, differing work styles all contribute to disagreements and clashes. There’s another source of conflict—between generations! In this post, let’s look at Baby Boomer and Millennial conflicts.

Baby Boomers live to work. Boomers entered the workforce at a time when careers followed fairly straight lines from entry-level to executive-level positions like a ladder. For Boomers, company loyalty—while waning—is still important, and people who jump from job to job are looked at with suspicion. This generation believes that you have to put in the time to get ahead and earn rewards. Developing and nurturing personal relationships and understanding office politics are key strategies for Boomers.

Millennials, on the other hand, work to live and have a lifestyle. Keep in mind, Millennials will likely live to be 100 years old. They find nothing wrong with jumping from company to company and taking time out from working for a six-month trek to Asia. For this generation, career is not a ladder; it’s a lattice. Work relationships are mostly virtual, and everyone from the janitor to the CEO is an equal. They grew up on teams where everyone was a winner, and they expect to win all the time. 

Can you see where conflicts might arise?

So what can you do?

Build a culture of inclusion where all generations understand and value their differences. Bring your Boomers and Millennials together and encourage your Boomers to mentor the Millennials, who often have little experience or understanding of the workplace. 

Need more help? See my blog post How Each Generation Views Leadership and check out my class Leading Multi-generation Teams.


Five Habits for Getting Things Done

“Successful people are simply those with successful habits.” 

Brian Tracy, author and speaker

A habit is a routine practice we do without thinking and find hard to stop doing! The key to being positively productive is cultivating good work habits. Here are five daily habits for getting things done.

  1. Start your day the night before. Take a few minutes before leaving work to set your goals for the next day and set aside time on your calendar to accomplish them. 
  2. Tackle high priorities first. When you arrive at work in the morning, focus on your number one goal for the day and stay with it until it is completed.
  3. Keep things orderly and organized. Put away files when you are finished with them, keep books in bookcases, label and file everything for quick retrieval. A lot of time is wasted sifting through stacks of paper or long lists of e-mail subject lines looking for what you need. If you have stacks of paper or electronic clutter, take time to clear it and avoid creating it again. See my new program Writing and Managing E-mail if you need help with e-mail management.
  4. Practice kaizen throughout the day. This is the art of making small improvements in how you work. Make it a habit to look for ways of doing tasks faster and easier.
  5. Take a break every hour. Attention and energy fade after 60 minutes of focused activity. Set an alarm to get up on the hour and walk around. Take this time to chat with your employees and have some important face time with them.

Implement one of these five tips and when it becomes a habit, start working on another one. See my blog post Three Good Habits for Getting Things Done for more good habits to make you positively productive


Avoid These Delegation Pitfalls

Have you resisted delegation for fear that you wouldn’t get the results you need? Maybe you tried delegation in the past, but it didn’t work out very well. A successful delegation takes planning and is worth the effort because it can make you and your team more positively productive. Here are some tips to help you avoid these common delegation pitfalls and realize a successful delegated assignment.

  • Pitfall 1: Dumping stuff on your staff. A delegated assignment should be part of your overall employee development plan. Choose to delegate tasks that you currently are doing, but should not be doing. Make sure these tasks help the employee to develop new skills and, if possible, demonstrate leadership.
  • Pitfall 2: Failing to explain your expectations. The employee needs to know how you will measure his or her performance. Describe the outcome you want, set deadlines, and give the employee the tools and training needed to deliver.
  • Pitfall 3: Micromanaging. The purpose of delegation is to make you more productive by freeing your time to work on tasks that only you can do. If you give the employee sufficient instruction about deliverables and are available to answer questions, let the employee get the job done without interference.

Delegation is a powerful tool to make you positively productive and develop the skills of your team members. See my blog post Delegate for Results for more information.


Are You an Accountable Leader?

Leadership is more than having a job title or job responsibilities. All good leaders are accountable for their actions and the actions of those who work for them. The buck truly stops with you! Here are four tools to help you better understand leadership accountability. 

Accountable leaders:

  • Understand their strengths and know how to leverage them. They also are honest about areas that need improvement. When you acknowledge that you cannot do something well, you can either improve this area or delegate to someone who can do it better than you can. This powerful combination of self-knowledge and self-development is a key factor in emotional intelligence. 
  • Set clear performance expectations for themselves and their employees. This openness and transparency is important for developing the respect and trust of the team, colleagues, and management. 
  • Take ownership for everything that happens in their area of responsibility. They do not cast blame or point fingers when something goes wrong. Instead, they step up and take whatever action is necessary to rectify the situation.
  • Motivate their employees to deliver needed results by being generous with praise and rewards for jobs well done and by coaching people to exceed stated expectations.

Being accountable and having a reputation for accountability are important steps on the path to becoming a leader who is admired and respected. For more information on enhancing your leadership skills, check out my leadership programs at Organize 4 Results.


How Often Do You Unplug?

Our work lives are ruled by technology. E-mail and texting keep us plugged into the workplace long after the workday to the detriment of our peace of mind. We cannot truly relax and unwind when we are regularly checking, sending, and responding to work messages. According to an article in Fast Company, “…22% of employed e-mail users are expected to respond after hours. Half of us check e-mail on the weekends, and 34% on vacation.” 

This constant focus on work raises our stress and can actually decrease productivity. Breaks from the job are necessary to refresh creativity, resilience, and enthusiasm. So how can you unplug? Here are some tips:

  • Set an enforced time out. Turn off devices, put them in a drawer, and resist the urge to turn them on until a set amount of time passes. 
  • Limit the amount of time you spend on e-mail and texting during your free hours. Set aside 30 minutes or an hour here and there during the evenings and weekends to handle work-related messages. When the time is up, unplug.
  • Refuse to let anyone text or e-mail during meals. Some people turn off phones and pile them in the center of the table. The first one who checks their phone, pays the tab. At home, that person has to do the dishes. 

Downtime is necessary to avoid burnout and relieve the stress of your job. While technology tools are necessary, refuse to let work rule your time off from the job. Choose one of these tips and start unplugging! See my blog post Stress Busters for more information.


Cultivate Productivity Habits

Habits are wonderful productivity tools because they allow us to act using autopilot. They also can be productivity wasters! The key is to build habits that add time to your day. Here are three habits worth cultivating.

  • Habit 1: Take time to plan for productivity. One minute of planning can save 5 minutes of execution time. If you spend the first 10 minutes of your day planning your priorities for the day, you will gain about 50 minutes of time when you tackle those priorities. Don’t check e-mail or voicemail, don’t meet with your team or manager, and for those of you working remotely, don’t get distracted by what’s happening at home. These are unproductive habits. Instead, immediately go to your desk and plan what you need to accomplish that day. 
  • Habit 2: Take mini-breaks. No matter how strong your concentration skills, no one can focus for more than 50 or 60 minutes without a break. If you push yourself to keep going, your focus will suffer, and it will take longer to accomplish the task. Set a timer and at the top of each hour take a five-minute break. Get away from you desk, walk around and get outside for some vitamin D!
  • Habit 3: Complete an e-mail when you open it. When you open an e-mail, either do it and file it into a folder, trash it if you don’t have to keep it, or move it to a follow-up system. Leaving completed or pending e-mails in your in-box saps your productivity. My program Writing and Managing E-mail can help you get and stay on top of e-mail.   

Adding these three habits to your workday can help you be more positively productive and get more done each day. See my blog post Greater Tools for Greater Productivity for more tips.


Do You Work With a Constant Complainer?

It’s challenging to stay positive and be productive when you work with someone who constantly complains! Often, these people see only what isn’t working, what’s missing, what’s not right. They come across like victims at the mercy of circumstances. Here are some tips for working with this type of person.

  • Acknowledge how they feel. They believe that they have a legitimate complaint that needs airing. Avoid rolling your eyes, sighing, looking bored or annoyed, and don’t minimize their pain by saying, “Things aren’t really so bad.” Remain neutral and non-judgmental. 
  • Express sympathy. If you commiserate with them, you may be able to stop the complaining since sometimes they just want to vent to someone who listens.
  • Try focusing them on a solution, but don’t give them advice. Asking them what kind of resolution they want and what they plan to do to bring it about can often stop the complaining. Avoid giving advice because they will find reasons they cannot take it. Many complainers really don’t want a solution or to take action.
  • Be assertive. If they continue to complain, be polite and explain that you would rather not hear about what’s wrong. You sympathize with them and will support them, but you don’t want to listen to complaints.

Constant complainers in the office can undermine morale and productivity. Don’t allow a constant complainer to take over! See my blog post Being in a Good Mood Is Good Business for more information.


What’s Stopping You?

Right now, are you procrastinating about something that you need to do? 

If you’re like many people, you answered yes!

Procrastination has plagued us throughout history. The Greek poet Horace, (65 BC – 8 BC) wrote, “He who postpones the hour of living is like the rustic who waits for the river to run out before he crosses.” So, how do we cure ourselves when the procrastination bug strikes? Here are some reasons for procrastinating and what to do about them.

  • You’re waiting for the right moment to start. It is unlikely that the “right moment” will ever arrive. Most days are jammed with tasks you need to accomplish, and if some time opens up, you aren’t likely to tackle the task that you are avoiding! Be proactive and schedule time on your calendar to start the task. This will give you some momentum to keep going. 
  • You don’t know where to start. Most tasks do not require a linear approach; you can start with any part of the task that is easiest for you to complete. The key is to just start.
  • You’re afraid that the result won’t be perfect. Perfectionism is the enemy of productivity. Nothing will ever be perfect no matter how much time you spend on it. Become comfortable with an acceptable level of performance and weigh which tasks require greater precision than others. See my blog post Perfectionism for more information.
  • It’s boring! We all have to handle routine, boring tasks sometimes. Filing, completing monthly reports, and other administrative activities lend them to delaying tactics. The best way to get these things done is to do them when we need some down time since they usually don’t require a lot of attention or thinking. Spend 15 minutes a day handling these tasks.

Procrastination is the enemy of productivity. If you’ve been putting off tackling something you need to address, take time to figure out why you are delaying and implement a remedy. You’ll feel positively productive when you get them off your desk!


Happy Memorial Day Weekend

Just a quick note to say I hope you all enjoy this long holiday weekend and the official start of summer. Your vacation plans might not be what you had hoped but take this time to be creative and enjoy the outdoors. Stay socially connected, respect social distancing, stay safe and healthy!



Network within Your Own Organization

Many business people are active networkers in industry and business organizations, but they never think about networking within their own company. Informal networking is establishing mutually beneficial relationships with coworkers. This gives you access to experts in other areas of the organization, provides opportunities for finding mentors, and opens opportunities for advancement. Here’s how to form and cultivate an informal network.

  • Identify people who do your job in other areas and get to know them. Share best practices and help each other solve problems and meet challenges. Your peers can be valuable resources.
  • Reach out to those who are in positions you are interested in and ask for an informational interview. Exploring other jobs helps you with career planning and shows that you are interested in staying with your company for the long term.
  • Look for people who can mentor you. See my blog post Do You Need a Coach or a Mentor? for more information.
  • Establish mutually beneficial relationships with your connections. Make yourself available when they need help and offer assistance whenever you can. 
  • Meet frequently for coffee or a meal and get to know them as people and colleagues. Remember significant details about them by adding notes to their profiles in your contacts record. 

Networking within your organization raises your visibility so that people get to know you and your expertise. The more people who know you and what you can do, the more they will think of you when a job opening occurs.