Sunday, January 15, 2017

Blame Everything on the Millennials

Poor Millennials.  Everything that's wrong with the world can be attributed to them.

Just the other day I was watching a clip of a press conference with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver who said he was considering shortening the length of the NBA games because of the short attention spans of Gen Y. He said, "Obviously people, particularly Millennials, have increasingly short attention spans, so it's something as a business we need to pay attention to."  

So the Commisioner is just now recognizing that NBA games are too long because Millennials may find other things to entertain them rather than sit through a game where a time out or fouls given in the last two minutes ends up stretching into another 20 minute of playing time?  And while you're at it Commissioner, why not consider reducing the number of games from 82 to 75?

But a short attention span isn't the only criticism given to Millennials.  They're also blamed for a fall in new housing sales.   One report sites the fact that more and more young people are choosing to stay at home with their parents or rent a trendy loft.  Perhaps that might be because their salaries aren't adequate for such an investment.

Oh, and let's also blame them for being the job-hopping generation and the fact that employers have to spending hundreds of thousands of dollars annually to replace them.  Could it be that employers haven't figured out what they need to do in order to retain them?  I could write an entire book about that subject---and guess what, I DID!

Stay tuned for the release of The Baby Boomer/Millennial Divide:  Making it Work at Work.

Sunday, October 09, 2016

Move Over Baby Boomer Because The Millennials Are Here

You walk into your new-hire enrollment meeting to see a 50-year-old man fumbling with the computer and telling you to take a seat. It’s a scene you’ve been conditioned to seeing throughout your academic career. The instructor introduces himself and lets you know it will be six weeks before you actually start working and he is going to be your guide to learning the “new computer systems.” You instinctively roll your eyes and get your phone out. Without a tiniest effort you can find a YouTube video that will teach you everything this man knows about a “new computer system” in 30 minutes, not 6 weeks.

You take a deep breath as he hovers over the start button for the full display to come up as he moves over each option before landing on ‘programs’. Think about how you wanted to start meditating as he accidentally clicks away onto the screen and is about to have to restart this 5 minute ordeal. What is this guy going to “teach” you next? How to open Microsoft paint? I’ve been ignoring my middle school teacher for years playing with that. Maybe he’ll open your eyes to the world of Excel?! You finished your capstone class in college with advanced pivot tables and if this guy pivots too hard he’s going to break a hip.

Yes, a changing of the guard is taking place.  With all of their fanfare and glory over the years, baby boomers are reluctantly realizing a new generation has arrived and we are setting the tone for the workplace of the future.  We win, hands down, when it comes to technology, although we may lose out on those soft skills like actually talking to each other face-to-face. 

Baby boomers have been in the workplace and building relationships for years.  They may have worked for a Company longer than we’ve been alive. They are accustomed to making the high five and six-figure incomes and used to running “the show” their way.  You know what I’m talking about:  “It’s my way or the highway!” attitude.


But now with more than ten thousand boomers turning 65 and becoming eligible for retirement annually, it’s our turn to step up and take our rightful places in the workforce.   

You can read more in the upcoming book: The Baby Boomer/Millennial Guide to Understanding Each Other in the Workplace.

Written by Chris Gure 

Monday, October 03, 2016

A Customer Service Lesson for MIllennials

The week of October 3 is known as Customer Service Week.  This is the week customer service employees are recognized and shown appreciation for their service to their employers and the customers they serve.

I am a firm believer that no matter what business you're in, you are going to give some level of customer service to someone.  Bus drivers give it to passengers by the way they greet them, fast-food works give it by the way they greet customers and take their orders.  Department store employees give it by the way they interact with customers looking to make purchases.Even online merchants must deliver good customer service if they want returning clientele.

With more and more Millennials entering the job market and primarily into customer service positions, it is imperative that they understand what it means to deliver their best.  No doubt about it, young people lack soft skills.  They would rather send a text to give you an answer than to pick up the phone or, better yet, talk face-to-face.   

Once while working in a call center, I overheard a young person comment to another that she couldn't stand old people because they just couldn't get technology.  Ironically, it was her role as the "tech expert" to help the person on the phone who "couldn't get it."  

Here are some tips for Millennials in customer service:

Smile when greeting someone in person or over the phone.  Smiles can be heard over the phone.

Use age appropriate greetings and avoid referring to older people as "guys."  Saying "yes ma'am" or "no sir" shows a level of respect you have for the person.

Engage with the customer in a positive way.  Ask them how their day is going and let them know how happy you are to be able to help them.

Show patience:  This is especially important if you're working in a call center environment.  Even if you've tried to explain something over and over, remain calm until they get it.  Sighing or making snide comments like, "I don't see how come you don't understand this!" will only lead to more frustation for you and the customer.

 Remain calm. When a customer starts yelling or being otherwise rude, there is nothing to be gained by responding in a similar manner. In fact, that will probably escalate hostilities. Maintain control of yourself, even if the customer’s tirade makes you feeling like yelling yourself.

Don’t take it personally. Remember, the customer is not angry with you, they are displeased with the performance of your product or the quality of the service you provide. Your personal feelings are beside the point.

Use your best listening skills. The first thing an angry customer wants is to vent. To do so, they need someone to listen—and, for better or worse, you are that person. Listening patiently can defuse a situation, as long as the customer feels acknowledged in his or her complaint. Hear them out. When they are done talking, summarize what you’ve heard and ask any questions to further clarify their complaint.

And, finally, give people MORE than they expect.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Dealing with Millennials in the Workplace

In case you didn’t get the memo, there is a changing of the guard in today's workforce.  Members of my generation, the baby boomers, are slowly being pushed aside for the dawning of a new era. 

The Millennial generation has arrived and taken over America by storm.  According to statistics released by the U.S. Census Bureau in June 2015, “Millennials, or America’s youth born between 1982 and 2000, now number 83.1 million and represent more than one quarter of the nation’s population. Their size exceeds that of the 75.4 million baby boomers.” (born between 1946-1964).

As it relates to the workforce, more than one-in-three American workers today are Millennials, surpassing baby boomers in 2014.   By 2025, it is estimated they will make up 75 percent of the workforce.  These youngsters have entered the workforce with new attitudes and perspectives on what their employment should be like and how relationships between employers and employees should be developed.


They are not interested in hierarchy or the “kiss ass” mentality to get ahead on the job.  Unlike us, if they’re not happy with the way things are going, they’ll just look for something else.  We, meanwhile, suck it up and continue to work and complain until we’re fired or retirement comes.

As someone who has and currently works with Millennials, my advice to my fellow boomers is to treat them respect and not view them as children.  Learn from them when it comes to technology while demonstrating your own wisdom and knowledge to help them with the soft skills they undoubtedly lack.

To read more, stay tuned for a copy of my upcoming book:  The Baby Boomer Guide to Understanding Millennials in the Workplace.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Death

So far this year I've been to two funerals.  That's more than I've been to in the past 5 years. Death is a reminder that my friends and I are getting older and just like "life happens" so does dying.  Funny thing though, the two people who passed away this year were actually YOUNGER than me.  Sharon, who died in January---just days before her 57th birthday---succumbed to cancer---the same disease that took her sister's life years earlier.  Sharon was my girl.  She was the head of a nonprofit organization called C.A.R.E. She was truly a godsend for the homeless, down-trodden and our veterans.  Her motivation and determination to create a shelter for homeless vets inspired me to help by hosting a Throwback to the 60s Fundraising Party for her cause and yes, we partied like it was 1979!!!  Her sudden death caught me totally off-guard and sent me into a depression for awhile.

This past Thursday, my hairdresser's sister passed away.  She apparently died in the restroom during her lunch break.  They believe it might have been due to an aneurysm.  Her name was Beverly also.  She and I were in the same bowling league for a couple of years and our only daughters also bowled together.  She and I weren't besties or even close friends for that matter but I wanted to pay my respects because of her sister, whose been my hair stylist for more than 20 years.  I know her passing leaves a void in a family that was extremely close.  She was only 53.

Even though I don't like to talk about it or even think about it, I know death will eventually come knocking at my door and if you are reading this, it will come for you as well.  You may prolong it but you'll never escape it.  No amount of technology can stop the process.  That's the power of God.

If you have experienced loss, here's a website that might help:  http://www.helpguide.org/articles/grief-loss/coping-with-grief-and-loss.htm 

Saturday, February 06, 2016

The Millennial Style of Giving

I think Millennials get a bad rap sometimes and, yes, I admit I am among their critics.  Coming from a different generation tends to put me at odds with some of them when it comes to things like business etiquette and their thinking process.  I have also been of the opinion that Millennials don't respect authority or obey the so-called rules.  They are selfish---thinking only of themselves when it comes to----WHATEVER----but this week a small group of them proved me wrong.

On Wednesday, members of my (former) training class surprised me with a gift card, cake, appreciation certificate and balloons to say how much they appreciate me.  Now I will be perfectly honest, I never saw that coming.  Throughout training class, I thought they were just being nice to me because they were taught to be respectful of their elders. But surprisingly, once we left training and moved on to separate teams, they kept me ("Mrs. BAM") in their "loop."  I have gotten to know them and think of them as my extended family. They have me shaking my head sometimes at the things they say in our little "chat" but they also make me laugh and some have even felt comfortable enough to share their personal and private issues.  On Wednesday, they made me cry.

This blog post is written as a reminder to me and my fellow boomers that we should not be so quick to judge the Millennial generation.  Yes, they are different.  They're not working the same way as we did when we first entered the job market.  They are not kissing ass to get to the top and certainly have no reservations about leaving a company if they don't feel it's a right fit for them----unlike many of their parents and grandparents who worked at one job all of their lives so they could retire and collect social security. 

According to Laura Stiller Rikleen, author of the book You Raised Us--Now Work with Us, one stereotype is that Millennials feel "entitled."  She says, "Are we confusing the word entitlement  with their version of self-confidence and self-respect?"  And not all Millennials lack motivation or drive and they do know how to give back.  As a matter of fact, on a larger scale, 84 percent of millennials made a charitable donation in 2014 and 70 percent spent at least an hour volunteering.  

Millennials are giving back their way and I think I'm okay with that.

Thursday, October 01, 2015

Whatever Happened to Dress to Impress

For those of you who are regular readers of my blog you know that I have been in and out of the workforce for the past 10 years. As much as I love having my own business and calling the shots, I still have to keep a roof over my head and food on the table, without solely passing the buck onto my "I've got your back" husband.

In August of this year, I started training for a position in a Company I prefer not to mention.  From Day One, I was shocked to see how my Millennial co-workers chose to come to work.  Some looked as though they had just gotten out of bed and threw the first thing on they could find.  Others wore clothes so tight I thought for sure they would split something somewhere.

The icing on the cake was a dress down day called Wacky Wednesday, where you were invited to wear the most outlandish outfit you could find.  I decided to participate to show I could be a team player.  I wore a T-shirt with a copy of the cover of my book on the front (shameless advertising), some blue jean capris, mix-match tennis shoes and socks.  For me, it was totally wacky because I would never been seen dressing like that for work or anywhere else for that matter.  

As I looked around to see who else was participating and who wasn't, I had a hard time figuring it out so I didn't dare say anything to anyone for fear of insulting them.  

It's obvious business attire has changed significantly over the years, especially in the last 20 years. Too many people have forgotten why proper business attire is important. It seems as though the younger you are, the less you care about the idea of "dressing to impress" in the workplace. The philosophy could be, "As long as I do my job, what I choose to wear should be no big deal." 

I do believe there are dress codes in place in the workplace for a reason and there should be a difference between the way you dress for work and the way you dress at home or when you go to the club.

But on the other hand, maybe these are Millennials who are just starting out and really don't know what dressing to impress means.  They don't know how their attire brands them.  Maybe they don't have the money to afford what is classified as real business attire or maybe they just can't invest because they have other obligations like "family."

Perhaps being an aging baby boomer has turned me into an old-fashioned, judgmental cynic who is trying to raise everyone else's dress code standards based on my own.  After all, I've been in the workforce more nearly 40 years so I ought to know a thing or two about dressing to impress, right?  

Whatever else we think about dressing for success, we need to be reminded that first impressions are everything, and we only get one chance to make a positive first impression.