5 Things I've Learned at OKA (My New Job)

2020 started with an exciting change for me professionally. I joined the OKA family as “Director of Client Relationships”, pursuing an industry, company, and mission that I am incredibly passionate about. This opportunity came as a result of a several year journey searching for the optimal career path doing work that I believe whole-heartedly in. Via hundreds of conversations with those in and out of my network, I am fortunate to have been led into the field of leadership coaching, training, and organizational development. This industry has changed my life and I am enthused with the opportunity to now share this change with clients, coworkers, family, and friends.

It’s funny how opportunities present themselves – my “lead” happened to be as a result from reaching out to a unknown LinkedIn contact who was doing work that interested me. The coffee that followed led to a mentorship, which then led to him suggesting I reach out to another individual, who leads the company I am now a part of.

I tell this story to share a motto I truly believe; you never know where a connection can take you. If you are open-minded, curious, and gratuitous, the possibilities of where a “random” coffee meet up or phone conversation can lead are endless. With all that being said, I wanted to share five things I’ve learned at OKA through my first month at the new job.

1.       The desire for companies, teams, and individuals to improve emotional intelligence is growing

“Emotional Intelligence” is quickly becoming a buzzword in today’s society, and for good reason. OKA’s clients understand the power of emotional intelligence and how it can enable the workforce. It may be true that technical skills land job positions but in order to grow and excel in a current position or desired position, emotional intelligence is now a key factor with performance and potential candidacy.

Recognizing our own strengths and weaknesses leads directly to an increase in self-awareness and in turn, a greater level of self-management. The journey of improving our emotional intelligence begins by understanding where we struggle and developing an action plan for improvement.

2.       Flexibility is vital

Transitioning from a 1300-person company to a 5-person company was full of expected and unexpected surprises and hurdles. Honestly, this aspect of the new role excited me as it was one of the parts of my previous role that I felt was hindered. That said, at such a small firm, adaptation and open-mindedness was obligatory for success professionally and personally with coworkers and team unity. I have learned the importance (and fun) of wearing many hats and embracing failure.

3.       Find a workplace that embraces “you””

Achieving happiness in an organization is built from a combination of many aspects. One that I believe to be mandatory is the ability to be your true and honest self. Every individual brings a unique skill set to the team and recognizing that is an important key for success. Fostering each other’s unique selves and skillsets provides an enjoyable and productive work environment.

I feel incredibly lucky to be able to bring my full self to work each day and be with fellow employees that trust me to make responsible decisions. Even though I have less years of experience than many of my co-workers at OKA, my voice is valued and encouraged.

4.       Utilize Tools/Assessments for Better Communication

OKA is an organization that is heavily focused on utilizing tools for increased self-awareness and self-management. Having team members with a high level of emotional intelligence creates a company culture that fosters individuals simply being “wired” differently. We all gather data and make decisions in unique ways.

Many client revelations occur when individuals recognize that they may approach a problem through a specific lens but that that is not the only lens that is available. At OKA, we are transparent with each other’s assessment results and use them in every interaction. We know who is wired to respond on an objective way (problem-focused) or a subjective (people-focused) way. This allows for the team be more empathetic and understanding of where others are coming from.

5.       Being new is not always a bad thing

It’s true, being new is daunting and scary. This was my first professional transition since I had graduated college and as stated, was an immensely different workplace than I had grown used to. In the beginning, I found myself prefacing my ideas with “I realize I am only “x” weeks in, but I was thinking…”. My colleagues honest feedback was – stop. By doubting myself due to being the newest member, I was unfairly discounting my recommendations. I am constantly learning through my own actions (and via coaching clients) that we are often our own biggest critics.

The truth is, my coworkers recognize that I bring new experiences and skills to the table and are excited for me to share my thoughts and reactions. Having a fresh and unbiased view on topics and processes can be incredibly helpful with workflow efficiency and professional development.

Five Step Process for Finding a Career you Love

A lot of the coaching work I’ve been doing with emerging leaders inside organizations and people in their 20’s and 30’s has been about finding a career they love. They are having success in their current role but feel that there is something more out there for them. Often times I hear they don’t know where to start and feel “stuck.” Very often people immediately jump to job searching online without doing the internal work necessary to figure out something they actually want to do and end up frustrated when that process doesn’t work. With that being said, I wanted to share a five-step process based on research for finding a career you love.

  1. Reflect on your values, strengths, and ambitions

The first step in figuring out where you want to go with your career is to identify what’s important to you, what you’re good at, and what you want out of a career. Very often identifying our values can help us figure out how to make the best decision. When we make a decision without thinking about our values, that is when stress tends to occur. Additionally, it’s important to get a good unbiased opinion of what your strengths are as positioning yourself in a job focused on your strengths will lead to a more positive situation.

Question to ask yourself – “What are my top 5 values and why?”

2. Define multiple career paths that could be fulfilling

There probably isn’t only one career that will be fulfilling for you and trying to identify that one opportunity will only lead to frustration. It’s important to cast a wide net in the beginning and do some internal searching to figure out what could be interesting for you. It’s also vital to write all of these down as opposed to just thinking of them in your head, checking a few online job boards, and then moving on. Think about some careers your friends and family have and if you could see yourself in a similar situation. Try to think about people that are similar to you and the careers they have found themselves in.

Question to ask yourself – “What fulfills me outside of work, and why does that fulfill me?”

3. Identify your network and network of networks

It’s no secret that the way to a new job in 2019 is utilizing your network and network of networks. What I mean by network of networks are those people that are connected to people you know that are doing something that is interesting to you. Don’t be afraid to send a message on LinkedIn asking to learn about the work that someone else is doing. Do not ask for a job, but you never know where those LinkedIn coffee meetups can take you. Enter with a mindset of curiosity and learning as much as you can and leave by showing gratitude for the other person’s time. This is the part of the job process that can get some people uncomfortable, but there is a good way to do this. During or after your conversation, see if there is a way to provide value in this person’s life. Maybe they have young child that is an athlete and you can offer to do a free sports lesson, or possibly you can return the favor and connect them with someone in your network. Think of a way that you can provide value for this person taking the time to meet with you.

Question to ask yourself – “What value can I provide this person when we meet?”

4. Test out careers of interest

The try before you buy method that is typically mentioned in retail can also be useful when thinking about your career. It can be detrimental to rush into a career that you think is going to be great without doing your homework and actually figuring out ways to try it out. If you are interested in a specific career, ask to shadow someone for a few hours and actually try to do that type of work. If you are applying for a sales job, make sure that you know you like sales and try selling something even if that’s different than what you’ll be selling in your new job. This often requires thinking outside the box, but before making that jump, identify a few ways to test out what you’ll be doing next.

Question to ask yourself – “Where can I find opportunities for me to try out different careers?”

5. Launch into a job search

Most people skip the first four steps I’ve described above, and immediately launch into sending their resume into the dark hole that are job boards. They put their resumes on Glassdoor, LinkedIn, Monster, etc. and get frustrated when nobody is reaching back out to them. The truth is that this does not work, and a very high percentage of jobs are not found this way. A better and more effective way is to utilize your network to learn about organizations that are of interest. Reach out to the alumni that works at a company you’re interested in or find a way to connect with someone at the company through a mutual friend, and offer to meet them around their office for coffee or for a quick phone conversation. The best way to learn is to ask questions and get curious about the good/the bad/the ugly of that organization.

Question to ask yourself – “What are the 5-10 organizations I’m interested in, and how can I make connections there?”

The two biggest issues I’ve found people make when looking for a meaningful career are, they don’t write down their thoughts/internal work and they do not fully utilize their network or network of networks. If you are ready to take the next step to find a career that you love and would like to work with me, feel free to email me at HFanaroff@gmail.com, or find me on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Five Ways the Washington Nationals Manager Embodies Leadership

As many baseball fans across the world are aware, the Washington Nationals came back from a season in which they started 19-31 to ultimately win the World Series. Winning the World Series is an incredible feat but doing so after such a difficult start is truly remarkable. In order to engineer such an incredible turnaround, it takes a true leader and team of leaders to make this happen. Given this remarkable story in my hometown of Washington DC, I wanted to share five ways Davey Martinez (Washington Nationals Manager) displays remarkable leadership traits.

  1. He accepts blame and deflects praise

Throughout the entire season, Davey was the king of accepting blame for struggles and then deflecting praise to his players when things were going well. He got torched by the media and fans when they were 19-31, but he continued to believe in his boys and accepted blame for the poor start. There’s no doubt that he kept the trust of his players by not throwing anyone under the bus. A weak leader would’ve blamed those players on his team, but a strong leader understands he needs his players and never blamed his guys. The manager of the team portrays the culture, and I love this quote from GM Mike Rizzo during their struggles, “Not one person pointed a finger, no anonymous quotes, no clubhouse lawyers, no backbiting,” said Rizzo. “Loyalty. And that’s why we’re here today.”

2. He focuses on the little wins

When they were 12 games under .500, it seemed impossible to climb back and get to where they ended the season, world champions. If they focused on being 12 games under .500, they wouldn’t have been able to make the climb up in the standings to get into the playoffs. Instead, Davey focused on and got his players to believe in the 1-0 mentality. I love Davey’s quote, “Remember, 1-0. 1-0 is not over. 1-0 means waking up tomorrow and winning your day. Win your day.” Davey focused on winning every day and accomplishing what they could every day, and that is what got them to their larger goal.

3. He keeps a positive mindset

It would’ve been easy for Davey to get down when they were struggling immensely in the beginning of the year. It would’ve been easy for him to change his personality and start being a hard-ass to his players and the other coaches, but Davey remained the same. He remained his usual calm, positive self and that got them out of the funk. I love this from Ryan Zimmerman, Mr. National, which embodies what Davey stands for, “I have had a lot of managers, obviously, and they all come into spring training and say they’re going to stay this way no matter what, we’re going to be here for you, it’s going to be us, we don’t care what anyone says,” Zimmerman said. “And then as soon as stuff goes bad, every manager has pretty much kind of thrown that out the window and sort of gone into self-preservation mode, where Davey, honestly, has stayed the same way. He’s positive every day, his energy, he always trusts his players and has his players’ backs. And I don’t think it’s been any different this year, even when we started as poorly as we did, he stayed the same.”

4. He trusts his people

Many fans and people in the media called for the Nationals to make radical changes to their team when they were 19-31. They said they should trade x player, release x player, but Davey continued to believe in his people and knew they would come around. That belief in his players helped them get to where they ended up as world champions. I love this quote from Davey when the Nationals were at their lowest point, “When we get healthy, we’re going to take off.” Davey never lost the belief in his guys and he got the ultimate reward for it.

5. He stands up for his team

A good leader stands up for his team and makes sure they know he has their back. Davey isn’t one to lose his cool, but in game 6 of the World Series when the umpires made an unbelievably bad call, he stood up for his guys. Davey understood the magnitude of the moment and how his team needed to know that he had their back. He argued a call and ultimately got thrown out of the game. Davey probably knew his actions were going to get him tossed out of the biggest game he’d ever coached, but a good leader always does whatever it takes to stand up for their team. After his ejection post-game Davey shared a quote that sums up his leadership, “I don’t want to sit here and talk about me or the umpires,” Martinez said. “This is not about me or the umpires. This is about the Washington Nationals and those guys in the clubhouse coming to Game 6 and playing lights out, knowing that this could be it. And I’m super proud of them.”

6 Ways To Improve Your Confidence

I’ve been working with a lot of people that are in the process of switching jobs or trying to switch jobs whether that be internally or externally, and therefore going through the interview process. While going through the interview process, I hear a lot of “I’m not confident enough,” or “when I didn’t get the job, the feedback was that I wasn’t confident enough in my communication.” The good news here is that confidence can be built, and people are not born with confidence. That fact in itself is pretty surprising to people and once we start to believe that, we can get on the road to improving our confidence. Given how often I’ve been hearing the statement, “I want to improve my confidence,” I figured I’d share six things you can do to improve your confidence.

  1. Prepare for the event

Perhaps the most important thing you can do before an important conversation whether that be an interview, client meeting, or meeting with your boss is make sure you are prepared. Have you thought about the potential questions they could ask, have you done enough research on the position, do you know your client’s priorities based on what you can find online? These are all important question to make sure you know so you are prepared. If you have done your preparation, there’s no reason you shouldn’t feel ready for the big meeting.

2. Practice like the performance

A lot of the times, we aren’t used to having “important” conversations and when we finally get into that situation, we freeze or talk too fast. It’s important in your preparation to re-create what the meeting or interview will be like. Try getting time with a friend, colleague, or family member to put yourself in a situation where you can go through what this interview or meeting will look like. Get feedback from that person after the mock meeting and treat it exactly like you would the actual meeting. If you already go through this type of pressure via a mock interview or mock meeting, by the time you have the actual meeting, it will be way less intimidating.

3. Notice your self-talk

What we tell ourselves is so incredibly important and taking control of our self-talk is an underutilized skill. We have the ability to control what we tell ourselves and stopping those negative thoughts is crucial. It’s the norm to have one bad meeting/interview and therefore think that all the others will be just like that. However, we can change those thoughts and it starts by just recognizing what those thoughts are and being with them. Understanding that one bad meeting/interview doesn’t make all of them bad, and that the next one can be your best. Think of a mantra or saying that you can say to yourself before the meeting/interview that can help your self-talk.

4. Embrace or push away the pressure

Understand if you are a person that thrives on pressure or chooses not to think about pressure. For the select people that thrive on pressure situations, think of ways that you can make this situation big and important. For the majority of us that work better when we don’t hype situations up in our mind, find ways to mitigate the importance of the meeting. If it’s an important meeting with someone very high up in the organization, tell yourself things like “they put their pant leg on one leg at a time,” “this is just another meeting, there will be plenty more,” and “they’re just another person,” as opposed to our typical thought of  “Oh my God, this person is so important I need to make sure I’m elevating my voice.”

5. Explore where your confidence comes from

Start to do some exploring whether that be with yourself or with another colleague/friend/coach as to where your confidence comes from. Is there something holding you back that you think was a huge deal, but really once you talk it out, you understand it’s not that a big deal and happens to everyone? It can be so rewarding and relieving to understand that everyone goes through events where they “fail,” and it’s human to have bad meetings/interviews. It’s worth it to talk it out and figure out where your lack of confidence is coming from and having that conversation can help relieve your stress from a specific event.

6. Focus on your body language

Dr. Albert Mehrabian, author of Silent Messages, conducted several studies on nonverbal communication and found that 55% of any message is conveyed through nonverbal elements. It’s very common that our words are expressing confidence in a certain situation, but our body language is exuding no confidence. Make sure you are sitting up tall, projecting your voice, making solid eye contact, and doing your best to mirror the body language of the other person. It’s your job to connect with the other person and bringing strong body language can help with your confidence. It’s very often not what we say but how we say it that people will comprehend from us.

5 Tips for New Managers

In many of the coaching conversations I have with emerging leaders in organizations, the question of “how can I be the best manager?” continues to come up. People are hungry to be effective managers and want to know the secret sauce to managing people. They are afraid of micro-managing, but at the same time want to ensure their direct reports are making progress on the overall organizational goals. People thrown into managerial roles are often never trained and therefore worry if they are managing “correctly.” I have spent a lot of time studying how to be the most effective manager, have been managed by many different people, and managed many different people so wanted to share five tips for new managers.

  1. Have your direct report fill out a new team member document

I share a “new team member document” with every new manager that brings up this topic of how to be the best manager. The truth is most people don’t take the time to learn about their direct report – what motivates them, why they took this job, what their goals/dreams are, etc. and by asking these questions you are separating yourself as a manager. Additionally, take 30 minutes with your direct report to talk through their answers as there may be things they didn’t want to write down. Even if you’ve been managing someone for a long time, it’s still recommended to have this type of conversation later in the relationship.

2. Manage the whole person

It’s so important to understand who the person is both inside and outside of the office. People are going to be much more motivated when they believe that their boss cares about who they are as a person. As long as the person wants to share, figure out what’s going on with the person outside of work. Understand that they are a person with interests and hobbies outside of the office and they probably want to share these with the people they spend so much time with.

3. Provide feedback with clear examples

Whether it be positive or negative, people want feedback with direct examples so they can learn. Feedback can be scary for some new managers and they can be worried about making their direct reports feel bad, but that can be mitigated by providing timely and direct feedback. Take it to the next level by understanding how your direct report likes to receive feedback. Does he/she prefer it be sent via email first so they can digest it, or do they prefer all feedback be in person?

4. Find a way to connect

Even if you don’t seem like you have much in common with that person you manage, it’s so important to find some way to connect with them on a deeper level than just the role. Be intentional to really listen in your early conversations for certain topics (travel, kids, siblings, sports, etc.) that you can connect with your direct reports on. It’s so important that you develop a relationship with your direct report, and that’s going to be done by creating those connections with shared interests.

5. Be a human being

This should be the golden rule of managing, but really this is what it comes down to. The best managers I’ve seen and studied are the most understanding of the people that they manage. Unfortunately, a lot of new managers are so worried about production and hitting goals, that they forget to treat the people that they manage like human beings. As long as your direct report is doing their job and getting their work done, it’s best to give them the benefit of the doubt when they are asking to do things like visit family for the holiday’s or go to a doctor appointment in the morning.

5 Major Benefits of Being Coached

As a coach, I have the privilege of working with individuals in all different stages of their career and life journey. I have worked with people that are new to leadership positions, executives within an organization, recent college grads that are new to the work force, individuals that have lost their job, individuals approaching retirement, those that are looking for their next career move, and many, many more. One of the parts I enjoy so much about coaching is that in order to be a good coach for someone else, it doesn’t mean that you must have experienced what that person is specifically going through. As a good coach it’s your job to be an incredible listener and ask the right questions for the client to get the answers for themselves. Now that I’ve recently crossed over the 100-hour mark of coaching, I wanted to share five benefits I’ve seen my clients experience during our time working together.

  1. Structured time to focus on what’s important

So many times at the end of my sessions, the client responds with “it’s so nice to talk about something that’s important to me and not just the latest fire drill.” We are all incredibly busy and spend so much time dealing with different issues, but it’s so important to take time for yourself. I can honestly say through my 100+ hours of coaching that we don’t take enough time to work on our ourselves which will therefore improve those around us. It’s important that we take time to focus on making ourselves better so we can positively influence those around us.

2. An open space to talk freely

It’s uncomfortable to be vulnerable and it’s even more uncomfortable to be vulnerable to our boss, our fellow employees, and those we manage, but with coaching it’s allowed. As a coach, it’s my job to provide an open space for my client to explore themselves, work on what they want to work on, and use no judgment. I tell every client before we begin working together that my goal is to help them become a better version of themselves and I’m going to do that by intently listening, asking great questions, and using no judgment. I’ve had so many clients tell me how helpful it is to talk with someone about an important area of their life with a person has no prior opinion or direct relation to it.

3. A new perspective they didn’t see before

One of my favorite parts about coaching is bringing an experience from someone’s past into a current issue they are facing. If we are constantly in that issue everyday it can be really hard to take some time to step back and really explore the issue at hand. We go through the situations over and over in our head but may be worried about exploring that issue with others who may judge us. By using a coach, you get the opportunity to talk openly about it and figure out if there’s a new perspective to take. I’ve had so many clients end our sessions talking about how they never really thought about the situation that way and how helpful it was to bring a previous experience into this one.

4. A return to honoring their values

When we are dealing with a big issue, it’s often most helpful to think through our values and how that relates to the problem at hand. Or it’s very possible that we are experiencing trouble with something because it’s directly against our values. I love using values coaching to help a person work through something that they are dealing with and feel comfortable about making a certain decision. I’ve had so many clients tell me how relating this issue back to their values helped them feel clearer about their decision, or they decided to do something entirely different because of how it was pushing against their values.

5. Accountability for continuous improvement

We all need accountability partners in our life because face it, we are human and other things come up. A continuous coaching relationship is a structured way to make sure you are moving towards your goals and becoming a better person. We have all tried to do something and have it end a few days, weeks, months later just because we lost steam. I’ve had so many clients tell me how our consistent sessions helped them stay on track to make sure they were continuing towards their goals. It’s easy to give up, but it’s much more difficult to give up when you have a coaching session on your calendar to discuss what you promised to work on the previous week.

Main Takeaways from my Hogan Certification

I recently went through a Hogan Assessment Certification course to become certified to give the Hogan Personality Inventory, Hogan Development Survey, and the Motives, Values, Preferences Inventory. Hogan is an organization that provides science-based personality assessments to help improve workplace performance. The three assessments I became certified in focus on a person’s typical day to day strengths, how they act under stress, and their overall values and desires. With that that being said, I wanted to share 5 things I learned from the two-day certification.

  1. Having personality data helps us become more self-aware.
  2. The more self-aware we can be, the more intentional we can be with our actions.
  3. Understanding our reputation and how others view us helps us become better employees.
  4. Certain traits are better for certain jobs, so personality assessments need to have context.
  5. Helping someone figure out their values helps them to figure out the career they should be in.

5 ways to build a strong mentor relationship as the mentee

There’s a good chance you’ve experienced a strong mentor relationship with someone at some point in your life. Whether that has been at work when you have a new task to take on, a teacher in school that helped you figure out your career, or a coach when you were playing a sport, we’ve all had experiences with mentors. The research shows that there are tons of benefits to forming mentor relationships in the workplace including promotions, raises, and increased opportunities. Mentoring has proved to be so beneficial that 71% of Fortune 500 companies offer mentoring programs to their employees. While the stats are important, mentoring will not lead to any positive results unless there is a strong relationship built. With that being said, I wanted to share five techniques for building a strong relationship as the mentee.

  1. Provide value at no cost

This person is taking time out of their busy day to meet with you and help you with your career through their experiences. Think about what you can do for them that can be helpful. Is there a task that they talk about doing that you could perhaps take off their hands or a stretch project they’ve always wanted to do but never had the time? Think about ways that you can provide value to your mentor as that will only strengthen the relationship.

Helpful tip: Be alert for areas the mentor says they are working on that you could help take off their plate. Be okay asking the question, “what can I do to be helpful for you?” Mentor relationships work best when both people are helping each other.

2. Set the agenda

It is your job as the mentee to come up with what you want to talk about during each session. The mentor is taking time out of their day and you want to make sure that it is a good use of each other’s time. Spend 15-30 minutes before the session thinking through what you want to talk about with your mentor. It is best practice to jot down a few notes on what you want to talk about, and then bring that journal to the session to take notes.

Helpful tip: Taking notes during the session will ensure you are able to remember if the mentor gives you a book recommendation or piece of helpful information that you want to remember.

3. Come prepared and ask good questions

Become curious about your mentor and ask them good questions that help you learn as much as you can from their experiences. Good questions tend to start with “what,” or “how” and are usually shorter in nature. Asking good questions shows that you are present and care about the relationship. People love to talk about their experiences and it’s important as the mentee to get curious about your mentor’s life. Make sure you look your mentor up on LinkedIn prior to meeting so you have a sense of their career to date.

Helpful tip: Come prepared with 5-7 strong questions that you want to discuss with your mentor during each session.

4. Be comfortably vulnerable

As the mentee, you get to set the tone as far as how deep you want this relationship to go. Understand it is okay, and often encouraged, to share things that you are struggling with to your mentor. Nobody is perfect and sometimes younger employees tend to want to make themselves look as if they have everything figured out. Your mentor will appreciate when you talk openly and honestly about your strengths and areas for improvement. The mentor is not there to tell your boss about a difficult issue you are facing, but rather they are a confidant than can be helpful to talk you through a similar situation they’ve faced.

Helpful tip: Establish a confidentiality agreement up front that you will not share anything your mentor says, and you ask for the same from them. The more your conversations can go below the normal surface we typically operate on, the better the relationship will be.

5. Be present

This one may seem obvious, and it’s important for everything in life, but be present with your mentor. Make sure you are doing things like closing your computer, keeping your phone in your pocket on silent mode, and making good eye contact. You will get so much more out of the relationship if you are able to shut off what you were working on and be 100% present in this conversation for the 30-60 minutes that you have scheduled.

Helpful tip: Utilize a grounding breathing technique prior to the start of the conversation to help you move on from your previous meeting.

Myth vs. Reality on Millennials

During many meetings that I’m in with Executives at different Higher Education Institutions, the topic of engaging and motivating their employees continually comes up. A lot of these Executives are in their 50-70’s and mention the generational gap they are dealing with when trying to work with others in their division. This conversation usually begins with a discussion about productivity and employee turnover, and then we inevitably get into a conversation about motivation and how the workforce is changing. Many of these leaders are aware that millennials are now the largest generation in the labor force, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data in 2016, so this is where their attention lies. Just to clarify, anyone ages 23 to 38 in 2019 is considered a millennial using this analysis. The current leaders understand that millennials are the future leaders of their organization and are eager to find ways to engage and motivate them. With that being said, as someone that is a millennial, has coached many millennials, and also done my fair share of research on the topic, I wanted to share six things that millennials want in the workplace.

  1. Quick growth and multiple options for growth

This stat floored me when I first saw it, but it speaks to how much millennials are willing to speak up about growth and a bump in pay. According to this recent report more than half of millennials have asked for a bump in pay in the last two years, and nearly 80% of those were told yes. Compared to previous generations, millennials are more willing to talk about money which is most likely due to the increased knowledge we have about salaries of comparable positions through companies like glassdoor. Additionally, millennials don’t typically have a set career path or goal when they enter a company. They want opportunities to figure out how they can test their different skills and have a more zig-zag career path than a straight up one.  

2. Ability to work in a non-structured way

Gone are the days of your typical 9-5 job where you get in and get out at the same time each day. The world doesn’t work like this anymore, and we can be connected 24/7, so we are. A stat from a Millennial Branding report found 45% of millennials will choose workplace flexibility over pay. Millennials are willing to work hard, but it just doesn’t have to be during the old normal workday hours. They are expecting to be on all the time, but also expecting to be able to come in an hour late because of the gym or leave an hour early to meet a friend who is visiting from out of town. Millennials want to be judged on the work they put out and not the hours that others see them sitting at their desk.

3. Opportunities to make an impact

Millennials want to make an impact in their career and to many, it’s no longer enough to just have a job that pays the bills. According to the Talent Report, 72% of millennials consider having “a job where I can make an impact,” to be very important or essential to their happiness. Money is important, but millennials need to know that the work they are doing is making a difference in the world. Most of your millennials are not just focused on improving the bottom line but are interested in the broader impact their work is having.

4. A diverse and inclusive environment

As the world is becoming more diverse, millennials need work environments that promote diversity and inclusion. According to this report, nearly half of millennials (47%) actively look for diversity and inclusion programs in prospective employers before making a final job decision. Millennials have grown up with instantaneous access to the internet, and because of that have seen a wide variety of perspectives shown and the success of organizations that promote ideas/thoughts from all different people. Millennials are comfortable with uncomfortable conversations and enjoy having conversations about sensitive topics such as diversity and biases in the workplace. Millennials have grown up with that idea that diversity and inclusion are vital and consider its importance to be an ethical imperative.

5. Organizations that say thank you

Companies and organizations need to move and innovate as fast as ever. Given this stress, that also means it’s more important than ever to stop and say thank you to your employees that are putting in the time to move your organization forward. Given the world we live in, millennials expect quick feedback and in fact this recent Gallup survey showed that employees are happiest when they receive some form of recognition every seven days. The constant hustle and focus on innovation and improving your product/services may seem important, but just as important is taking the time to honestly and appropriately thank your people.

6. Investments in their leadership and other “soft” skills

Companies today are smaller and growing fast, and as a result, they are typically more focused on building the business as opposed to their future leaders. Millennials were able to gain the technical skills while in college or on the job, but are now lacking and looking for “soft skills,” (I hate that term) development and training. According to a Deloitte study of 10,455 millennial workers, the top four things they wanted to improve on were: 1. Interpersonal skills, 2. Confidence and motivation, 3. Critical thinking, and 4. Innovation and creativity. It is the job of employers to provide their employees with the ability to work on these skills. These are areas that organizations sometimes ignore and assume people have, but the science shows that these are skills that can be trained and that our most successful leaders excel in.

6 ways to be a leader when you aren’t at the top of your organization

What is the definition of leadership? According to the dictionary, leadership is “the action of leading a group of people or an organization,” but that doesn’t really give us much. As someone that spends a lot of time reading about leadership and what makes a good leader, I am always searching for how I can be the best leader even when I am not in the C-Suite of my organization. Even if you do not manage a lot of people, there are still numerous ways that you can be a leader within your organization. Leadership to me basically means acting in a way that others want to follow, and in order to do that, you don’t necessarily need people directly reporting to you. Leadership is important because it creates a certain culture for how the people in your organization will act which therefore impacts the results and bottom line of your business. With that being said, I wanted to share six ways you can be a leader even if you aren’t at the top of your organization.

  1. Show up consistently every day

You know what you are getting when a leader shows up to work every day. They need to be consistent so that everyone who depends on them knows what they are going to get each day. No matter how good things may seem or how bad things may seem, you choose how you show up every day and others around you are watching. If you are bringing that same positive self to work, day in and day out when others are starting to lag, that’s how you can separate yourself as a leader.

2. Be someone others want to be around

We all know that one person that comes into a meeting and everyone (silently) moans because you know the energy they are going to bring into the room. Well… we all also know the person that comes in and everyone gets excited because of the energy they are going to bring or the helpful thoughts and ideas they will bring to the meeting. How do you make yourself that person each and every time you walk into a room? If you are leading the meeting, what are you doing to make things different and exciting in this meeting? Good leaders are people that make things happen, change things up, and make you energized to be around.

3. Treat others how you want to be treated

It’s so basic but good leaders don’t treat other people at their organization a certain way because of their title or their age. Good leaders treat people how they’d want to be treated no matter who it is. Nothing drives me crazier than the recently promoted person talking down to a person in the role they used to be in. People don’t care what your title is, but they care how you treat them. Next time you’re thinking about sending that frustrated email to the new inside sales rep at your company, it’s probably a good reminder to think about how you’d feel getting that email five years ago when you were in a similar role. Similarly, who are the people at your organization that seem to work in a thankless job, and nobody ever congratulates them on the amazing work they do? Leaders seek out these people and find ways to build connections and thank them for the work that they do. Don’t just build relationships up the organization, think about how you can build relationships throughout the organization.

4. Go out of your way to help others

You often hear about selfless leaders or servant leaders, and for good reason, you never hear about selfish leaders. Leaders go out of their way to make things easier for others in the company whether they are above them or below them. How can you use your talents and skills to help others in the firm? Did someone on your team recently help you a lot with a project? How can you thank them and give them recognition in a way that highlights their success? The best leaders do things to highlight others without asking for anything in return.

5. Take on firm-wide initiatives

What are some of the major areas of focus for your executive team? Where are they spending their time? Leaders don’t wait to be asked to help with major issues, but rather figure out a way to input their skills into those big initiatives. For example, if your organization has trouble onboarding new staff, how can you step in as a mentor for the new staff and make sure they are having a smooth transition? Make yourself an asset that helps move the business along in ways that have a greater impact than your specific job function.

6. Be willing to listen and be okay with being wrong

Leaders needs to be good listeners and can’t just give orders all the time. If you are bringing an idea to the table or sharing your idea during a meeting, are you listening to other viewpoints? We tend to write off other ideas as not as good as ours, but good leaders listen to all viewpoints before coming up with their final decision. There is a true benefit to diversity of thought and opinion, and the best leaders do this in order to come up with their strategies. Good leaders admit when they thought something, but then had their view changed by someone with a strong argument. Nobody is right all the time and in order to be a good leader, you must be willing to gather information and listen to others within your organization.