Monthly Archives: July 2011

How “engaged” are you at work?

Earlier this week I had the opportunity to hear Marshall Goldsmith (NY Times Bestselling author of books like, What Got You Here Won’t Get You There and more recently, Mojo) speak. He had a really interesting message about taking ownership of your own engagement and happiness within your job (and life too, I guess).

As he spoke a few things really hit me. I thought about it and there are many things corporations are doing today to adapt as millennials/Gen Y workers enter the workplace. Being of this generation myself part of me is flattered and encouraged that corporations see how that we are different and are making strides to match our working and communications styles. The other part of me, however, is pretty discouraged. I realized that not much is being done to prepare us (Gen Y/Millennials, or whatever you want to call us) for the workplace. Companies are looking to adapt, but my experience shows that they are nowhere close to where they need to be.

That said, I think it is important to focus on ourselves. If we can adapt to the corporate world at the same time they are adapting to us then we will be a few steps ahead of our peers. We can avoid pitfalls and make the right moves to get promoted faster and make more money (and get the types of jobs we want).

The first thing to accept, though, is that things do not move at the pace we want them to. I am impatient just like you, and corporations are slow. Who wins when we go head to head? (No big surprise on the answer here) The corporation with the minutia of processes and red tape wins.

Bottom line, we need to take ownership of our careers and make sure we are asking ourselves the right questions to test our how engaged we are. Marshall Goldsmith suggests asking things like, “did I do my best to increase my level of engagement?” or “How effectively did I increase my own meaning?” These are good active ways to keep ourselves in check instead of complaining about something at work (and there is always bound to be a policy or process or person that we think sucks).

There will be a time when you get depressed looking out onto a sea of cubicles in your office wondering what you are doing with your life. If you have felt it, then you know. If you haven’t yet, be warned. It could hit you when you walk to your car when it is still dark outside for the 3rd day in a row about to fight 45 minutes of traffic on the way to the office. Or it may be when the project you spent weeks on gets tossed aside because someone in a big corner office didn’t think it match their ideas.

So what to do? The first step in the right direction is easy… I am reminded of when I was pledging for my business fraternity during college. The importance of attitude and integrity were constantly pounded into us. I will leave integrity for another post, but attitude really matters. If you walk around acting like you are entitled to be the CEO after working for a couple months you will be in trouble. Put into context that many of our co-workers have been around for years, and often it takes a long time to build a reputation and trust. You can choose to think of a bad turn of events as a lesson that will help you improve or just another thing to add to the list of things that didn’t go the way you wanted them to.

Stay tuned for next post. I’ll go into some ideas for how to take ownership of how engaged and successful you are at work…

Let’s Get it Started

They say that all good lessons start out with a story (I am not sure who “they” are or why they say it, but I have to say I agree).  Let’s go back a few years to my very first performance review in my first job out of college…

“I am just not sure that you really ‘get it.’” [Long pause] “You appear to be a sharp young person but I rarely receive any feedback or questions from you, so I am not sure you really even understand how to do your job.”

The words that came out of my boss’ mouth during my first performance review, 3 months into my first job out of college, still sting.  I thought I was excelling. I figured my boss would be happy that I was not coming to her asking for help, instead trusting my own instincts.  The first of many questions raced through my mind; ‘why didn’t someone tell me how to handle my performance review?’ Without even knowing it I had committed one of the deadly sins to avoid when starting a new job: I did not get to know how my boss liked to communicate.  I had used other resources like asking my peers for advice on fulfilling my job description, but I did not take the time to connect with nor understand my manager.

This is just example of the many ways things a young professional can do that will derail your career.  In the blog posts to come, I will give you key advice on what to do in situations like these, so stay tuned.

But first there are a few important questions to ask…

Who Am I?

I am a 28 year old corporate manager at a Fortune 20 company (a company that I guarantee everyone has heard of). Being part of Gen Y (or a millennial or whatever the heck they want to call us), I know exactly what you are going through in the first few years of your career.  The questions, the doubts, the setbacks, and the successes (both big and small).

After graduating from undergrad I joined the company as part of a rotational leadership program. Day 1 they put me in charge of 20 people, most of whom had worked at the company longer than I had been alive. I then rotated into marketing and operations positions before being promoted to Area Manager in sales (and ultimately being selected for the company’s “Diamond Club” a distinction only awarded to the top 1% of sales leaders worldwide). After a couple more years I was appointed Regional Vice President and currently am in business development and strategy for the company.  Outside of my corporate job I have founded and run a couple companies, (www.Pong360.com and www.FlagdownTaxi.com) and started a charity (www.cupsforequality.org).  I am also a pretty avid traveler, having been to over 30 countries (more on this later).

Besides all of this, I have mentored a bunch of friends and co-workers (both formally and informally) and have been told I give pretty good advice (but keep reading and you tell me).

What is YP Edge?/What will I be writing about?

Young Professional’s Edge (or YP Edge as I like to call it) is a resource for young professionals to get advice. I am really looking to have a back and forth conversation, so reply to posts and message me if you have any opinions of things, have questions or want me to write about something in particular.

Who should read it?

YP Edge is for young professionals.  That term doesn’t really have an exact age limit on it since many times we change careers and companies or go back to grad school and have to start building a career all over again.  I am sure there will be some readers out there that are still in college/grad schools.  What I write about will definitely help you too… you are already starting to get ahead of the curve.

Why is it important? And how can it help you?

Working is not the most fun thing in the world (it can be rewarding but many times there are other things that I wouldn’t mind spending my time doing).  It is tough and I remember that many times I didn’t have the answers to questions I needed. I looked for mentors but most were more senior managers who had no idea what it was like to be a recent graduate in jobs at the bottom of the corporate ladder.  Having the right answers and mindset would be great, right? That is what YP Edge will give you. A leg up, great advice and a place to discuss questions you have about the corporate world and your career.

That’s all for now.  Since I don’t have a clever way to end my posts yet I will just end with [insert super cool catch phrase here].

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