Are we getting better?

shutterstock_148727033.jpgCalling all Millennials, again. This week has exposed some serious concerns that I would like to address. You see I am an eternal optimist. I try and usually succeed at finding the silver lining in all situations but at some point I have to begin questioning my own perspective. Today I had the incredible experience of meeting with one of Birmingham’s greatest up and coming CEO’s. We discussed many topics on employee engagement, retention and development. It truly was one of those once-in-a-journey opportunities and I am extremely grateful for his willingness to mentor me on theses subject, but it raised some serious concerns for me. Here is the meat and potatoes of the issue. Millennials have stereotypes; that’s nothing new, but are we doing anything to overcome them? Has my generation, with all their head starts and technology, really just accepted that we are lazy, underachieving and ENTITLED! I hope not, but I’m growing worried.

You guys know my 90/10 rule right; I think that 90% of Millennials are making the other 10% look bad. Sidenote: If you are offended by that, you are probably in the 90%. Seriously it’s like we are wearing those stereotypes around like a medal (note this would just be a participation medal that you didn’t actually earn because that is one of the many things we are stereotypically famous for).

Okay, okay, I’m sorry that I am hating so much on us today but I am frustrated. After my meeting today, it was recommended that I read a blog post written by Jim Cavale, President of Iron Tribe Fitness. Jim’s blog was great and extremely well-written about the difference in generations that you guys have heard me mention so many times before. The jist of his blog was that Millennials are entitled. The CEO I spoke with today recommended the article because he agreed with Jim, and I have been working with companies and their workforce all over Birmingham. Honestly, to some degree I agree with him. So here is what got me on this soap box today, the blog was written in 2013. 3 years ago! Do you know how long that is at the speed our world moves at today? I am alarmed and kind of want to shake someone because it seems like nothing has changed for our generation in that last 3 years to overcome negative traits that we possess.

It is okay to not be good at something at first. It is not okay to keep doing something poorly just because you are not good at it. That’s called settling and it is for chumps. You have got to adapt and overcome. Hear me here, I am not saying that you need to make your weakness your strengths; but I am saying that if multiple people tell you that you stink at follow-thru then you need to do something to improve that. (Thanks for telling me I’m bad at follow-thru, JAMES!) I am bad at follow-thru so I have surrounded myself with people that are really good at follow-thru. I adapted. Do you think it would be okay to go into one of my client meetings and say, “Oh by the way I’m really bad at follow-thru so don’t expect much from me outside our meeting times?” No Way!

shutterstock_305140163.jpgSo it boils down to this, when someone makes you aware of a negative trait or habit that you have, I would recommend that you seek wise council as to whether it is true. Don’t ask your friends who only tell you what you want to hear.   Seek out the people who will be candid with you.   If it is true, then you need to assess how to adapt and overcome.

Well guess what…we are entitled. I prefer to say that we are impatient but it comes across the same to your boss most likely. We get it honestly from our childhood. We grew up in a world of instant gratification (i.e. Instagram sold for a billion dollars!), but what the world is trying to tell us is that it is not okay. It is time (actually past time) for us to adapt and here are some adapting strategies that I recommend.

The fact that you have a job at all suggest that employers are trying to understand you and want to work with you, so you have to give them something to work with.

  1. Stop expecting titles: I don’t know why our generation is so fixated on titles but we all want to be “Director” or “Senior” or “Chief”. I want to make 2 points here.
    1. Titles mean nothing! They don’t change your ability to influence people, and you do not need a title to change the world.
    2. Titles are given in response to actions, not given to create action. If you want a certain title, then you need start acting the part now and then hope the title comes. Act like the Senior Manager, perform like the Senior Manager and one day, YOU WILL BE the Senior Manager.
  2. Stop asking before you think: Repeat after me, “I, {state your name}, am not special.” That’s it. If you can get that, you’ll be set. You or I not being special doesn’t mean we can’t impact the world; it simply means that the change we create was done despite our lack of specialness. So before you go ask for a raise, a promotion, an extra benefit, think about this, “If I were the boss and I had and employee identical to me, would I give them what they are asking for?” Answer it honestly then make our decision on whether to expect something or not.  Think about your actual performance. Analyze your actual productivity levels.   Assess the goals that were set for you and be darned sure you blew them away. Do not ask for anything from management based simply on the internal voice in your head (that sounds an awfully like your Mom) telling you, “You are the best! You deserve everything everyone else has.   You are the most special person in the world. There is no one else like you. “
  3. Start recognizing that it’s about value: You will probably hear me say this a million times if we stay friends long enough but I really do believe you get where you want to go in life by helping others get where they want to go. You job, your company is no exception. How can you add so much value to your company that they would want to give you the things you expect? If you want to be a manager and there is not a position currently available, be patient waiting for an opening and use the time while you are waiting to shine.   Show your management just how valuable you will be as a manager for them. If you truly work to your full potential, then it will be a no-brainer for them to give you that position when the time comes.
  4. Start being patient: Last tip and I’m sorry this seems a bit preachy, but I really recommend this one. Hitch your wagon to a company that you believe in and would want to work with for 40 years and then be patient. If it is a good company, run by good people, allowing you to do what you love, then waiting 5 years for something will be much easier. If your employer aren’t those things I just mentioned, then DON’T WORK FOR THEM! Go find a good company and then be patient with them.

Millennials are entitled and that has to change. Stop accepting this as finite truth. We can change this trait, we should change the trait.  We will benefit in the long-term so much more once we lose this entitled attitude and recognize we have to work for what is worth having.

calebCaleb Bagwell/Employee Education Specialist
John Maxwell Certified Leadership Coach
Grinkmeyer Leonard Financial
Toll-Free: 866.695.5162 / Office: 205.970.9088 
1950 Stonegate Drive / Suite 275 / Birmingham, AL 35242
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Finding and being a mentor

mentorA mentor is kind of a weird thing for a leader to seek out, don’t you think? Most leaders are so focused on looking like they are in control that the thought of someone mentoring them is almost offensive. “I don’t need a mentor, I am the mentor”, “What would my team think about me if they thought I needed a mentor?” Both of these are common for leaders to say or think and both are not entirely bad thoughts, but I think they generally come with a negative mindset that should be reversed. I was told a long time ago that I should always have a mentor and I should always be a mentor, so to the comment “I am the mentor” you are right, as a leader you should most definitely be a mentor to your team, but that does not mean that you wouldn’t benefit from having someone to speak truth into your life. “What would my team think?” Hmmmm….maybe that you are human, you are always looking for ways to better yourself, that you are humble.   That wouldn’t be so bad would it?

The purpose of having a mentor is to help you grow and mentors come in all shapes and sizes. My father is a mentor, my bosses are mentors, my co-workers are mentors, and some of my friends and family are mentors. I am mostly likely the only one in those relationships that view it as formal but you better believe that I treat their advice and wisdom as gold. Imagine a mentor as someone who is watching a horror movie. From outside the situation, they may be able to see what’s happening in other rooms, piece things together that give clear pictures of what about to happen next, and they may be able to yell at you to not open that door because the killer is in that room. Ever the heard the expression, “I couldn’t see the forest, for the trees”?   Well, mentors are there to help you see the forest.   I take notes, I call with strategic questions, I seek objective, non-biased feedback on any situation that I think carries risk and above all, I LISTEN! In almost every situation mentees will have opinions formulated about the topic they need to discuss, and in doing that they are coming in loaded. Trying hardest to seek advice without projecting and desiring totally honest feedback, even if it is not what you want to hear, is the best way to approach your mentor.   It is the only way that really pays off.

WARNING: Not all people are good mentors! (There I said it.) The art of “projecting” goes both ways and you may run into “mentors” whose advice is coming solely from their opinion or personal experience and it may not be the right solutions for you. Do not confuse their passion for a certain situation for factual advice. You have to use your brain in this as well. Now if you have multiple people telling you the same things, you need to listen.

So what should you look for in a good mentor?

  1. Look for someone who has been where you want to go: Wisdom = Knowledge + Experience if you can find someone that has already achieved many of the goals that you have set for yourself and they are willing to share their experiences with you, you have a heavyweight contender for your mentor! Seriously think about it. My dad always taught me, “A smart man learns from his mistakes, but a wise man learns from the mistakes of others.” Can you imagine the wisdom you can gain from talking to someone that has driven the road necessary to reach your goals and they are willing to warn you where the pot holes are?
  2. Look for someone that will be honest: My mom and I joke about the TV Show, “The Goldbergs”. It’s about this family in the 80s and the mom is always accused of having “Mom Goggles” on. Basically it means that in this mom’s eyes, her kids can do no wrong. In one episode the son wants to be a singer and the mom is nothing but encouraging; but the truth was that he stunk at singing. My mom and I have this relationship, I could call home and say, “Mom I’m going to buy a Subway Franchise on the moon” and she would say, “Aw sweetie that is so great, I’m so proud of you!” Mom I love you! The point here is that kind of encouragement is not always helpful. IN that same lunar Subway situation, a good would mentor would say, “Interesting Caleb, can I ask a few questions about that, like how do your customers get to the moon?” Side note: My mother is brilliant and when her “mom goggles” are not on, she is a great mentor to me.   She is an amazing school teacher and guidance counselor and for 30+ years, she has change the lives of hundreds of people!
  3. Look for someone with your common core beliefs: I think this is very important, while I think you should always be humble enough to accept advice from anyone willing to give it; you should carefully consider their advice before you use it. The biggest consideration in my opinion is, “Does this person share my convictions and beliefs?” I had the opportunity to meet with a young man trying to make his way into the real estate world. He sought the advice of an older more experienced developer as a “mentor”. It was not long until he realized that their views on the appropriate way to do business were very different. The young man definitely wanted to make money but not at the expense of anyone else, and his so called mentor felt that each person was responsible for taking care of themselves and so if someone else let him take advantage of them then it was their own fault. Needless to say that relationship did not last long.

The mentor/mentee relationship can be a very powerful tool. Imagine if that is the way your department worked. Every new hire, every mid-level manager, every supervisor was being mentored and mentoring for someone else in the office. Zig Ziglar said it best, “The best way to get what you want is to help others get what they want.” To the wise, how can you help someone without as much wisdom? To the inexperienced, how can you humbly ask someone to share their wisdom? Answering those questions my change your life.

calebCaleb Bagwell/Employee Education Specialist
John Maxwell Certified Leadership Coach
Grinkmeyer Leonard Financial
Toll-Free: 866.695.5162 / Office: 205.970.9088 
1950 Stonegate Drive / Suite 275 / Birmingham, AL 35242
Contact Caleb

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