Jackie Kellso

The Fish Rots from the Head Down

In ages in the workforce, avoiding arguments, baby boomers, bad boss, career challenges, communication skills, communications between generations, conflict resolution, coping with pressure at work, diplomacy and tact, effective communicating, employee engagement, engagement, executives, generation x, generations, generations at work, GenXers, leadership, managing, managing conflict, managing emotions at work, Millenials, people skills, personal development, personal growth, professional behavior, stinkin' thinkin', team-player, work-related problems on May 8, 2015 at 10:27 pm

Phrase of the day: Employee Engagement.  My metaphor: The Fish Rots from the Head Down. If you, a Baby Boomer (1946-1964), at the senior leader to C-level, have stinkin’ thinkin’, the rest of your organization will rot from under you.

Many high-level Baby Boomers think of the younger set of GenXers (born late 70s – early 80s) and Millenials (1982-2000) like this: “These entitled, spoiled kids who graduated with honors think they’re going to be VP right out of the gate!” I had to work my way up the ladder and prove myself, and they have to bite the bullet and do the same.”

Research now tells us of many reasons employees leave their companies.  Some of these include:  a lack of belief in senior leadership, lack of enthusiasm or clarity about the company’s mission and poor communication with direct managers. So leaders cannot risk leading with the mindset of ‘pain leads to gain.’

In fact, GenXers and Millenials don’t appreciate the sentiment. Whether empowered from early on by us, their Baby Boomer parents, or that there is significance to being born at the start of the Age of Aquarius, they are impatient to get to the top, to make a stamp on the world. Why? Because they grew up watching a young generation of talented grads become techie multimillionaires and they have been preparing to make their mark too. We Baby Boomers didn’t have those types of super-hero young, role models. Our role models were ‘The Establishment’. We’d never seen anything like what’s happening in the last two decades. We were ambitious, but we believed we had to work our way up in a linear, long-road haul to the top, as our Veteran parents and bosses (pre-1945) did.

My not-so-humble opinion on the matter: Stop rotting. If you haven’t moved beyond the 1980s work ethic and are holding young employees to these old standards, you are creating dysfunction in your company.

As challenging as this may be, it’s about becoming flexible. Here’s how to stop your head from spoiling the rest of the company:

  1. Encourage employees to spend a small percentage of their time – on your watch – creating projects they feel passionate about. Give them ownership of something meaningful to them, as long as it is in line with your company’s mission. Hey, it could open up possibilities for your business you had never anticipated!
  2. Don’t embarrass young employees for trying to bring new ideas to you. You’ll make them feel important if they feel heard.  This can encourage commitment and loyalty.
  3. Set boundaries, just make sure they are fair to all. Never play favorites.
  4. Keep cultivating your own skills. And although we can never evolve certain parts of the brain, parts that want what’s comfortable, we can build new neural pathways that can open-up our thinking and beliefs to embrace the NOW.
  5. Do what you can to learn about GenXers and Millenials. Understand their socioeconomic, psychological and cultural experiences. Become interested and make their life experiences matter to you.
  6. Be compassionate towards yourself. Everyone talks about managing others through change, but who manages you through this change (at this third quadrant of your career)? Fortunately, or unfortunately, you have to do it. (You can always hire a coach.:))

With Empathy,

Jackie

Copyright, PointMaker Communications, Inc., 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jackie Kellso and PointMaker Communications, Inc., with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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