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…


About Young Professional's Edge (YP Edge)

Aaron McDaniel is a corporate manager, entrepreneur, author, public speaker and community leader. Aaron has held numerous management roles at a Fortune 500 company, being appointed Regional Vice President at the age of 27, and is the founder of multiple entrepreneurial ventures. He is also the author of the book, The Young Professional's Guide to the Working World ( Aaron instructed a highly rated student-led course on leadership at UC Berkeley’s Haas Undergraduate School of Business and has a book, The Young Professional's Guide to the Working World: Savvy Strategies to Get In, Get Ahead, and Rise to the Top, due to be out later this year. Aaron offers advice that helps young professionals build the foundation for a successful career. Visit his blog, to learn more.

Posted on July 29, 2011, in Solid Advice and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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