4 Great Things About Your 401K Taking a Dump!

The stock market is in the crapper and everyone’s 401K took a hit that will take years to recover, so how can any of this be great!?!

Oh, just give me a minute to explain…

Yeah, it sucks! I mean panic in the streets sucks, I just lost my retirement condo in Boca sucks! I’m trying to make light of a bad financial situation. Oh wait, I kind of am.

The reality is we all put ourselves in this situation. We gambled. We put our money into mutual funds and 401Ks and other investment vehicles and we loved watching them gain money for the last ten years! Since the great recession, the S&P 500 has tripled! If you got in early, you’ve seen your entire retirement increase substantially from where it was.

Good news, bad news. It sucks we are all taking this hit, but we’ve had a great ride up! Plus, it will ride up again, for those who have a few years. For those who don’t, I’m very sorry, truly. It’s a great lesson for us all that as we get close to retirement, get the vast majority of your money out of the market and into much more conservative investments.

So, what about this nightmare do I think is great?

1. GenX lives! It’s too late for the Baby Boomers, they’re out. The Millennials thought they were on the cusp of taking over, well sorry, kids, Daddy isn’t leaving just yet! Thanks to the market fall, Gen X is here to stay for another decade and the Millennials looking to take over as leaders are just going to have to sit back and relax.

2. Retirement is Boring! I know you wanted to retire. It seems so great sitting around Florida watching your friends get older, sicker, and eventually die. Look, you get one run around this rock, why just stop, let’s keep this thing going! There isn’t one part of me that is looking forward to retirement. What am I going to do, sit home and watch crappy CBS cop shows? Nope, apparently, I’ll be getting a second job to help pay for the food bill with all my Gen Z kids at home that can’t find jobs.

3. Being Poor is a Great Diet Plan. Do you know no one has ever written a diet book about not having money and how it reduces your caloric intake? It seems like someone would have ‘scientifically’ picked up on that. Ugh, I lost most of my retirement in the stock market, now I have to stop going out for the nice 3,000 calorie dinners at the Applebee’s! America is way fat! LIKE WAAAAYYY FAT! We all need a diet. To feel a bit hungry again. We’ll all be tougher for it!

4. I’m buying great companies at a super discount! I’m a conservative gambler. I only like winning! Do you know how you win? Buy great, profitable companies, at 50% off and double your money in a shorter period of time! Now is not the time to be gun shy. This will be one of the top 2 or 3 buying opportunities in the history of the market!

I know, there is a portion of folks who will read this and think, “Tim’s an asshole!” How can he say this!?! He has no empathy! (Editor’s Note: Tim is an asshole.)

We all choose to react to tragedy in different ways. This sucks. This sucks for me and my family. This sucks for my business. This sucks for you. We can all agree on that. I also need to move on. To move forward. We did that after the great recession and we were stronger for it. We’ll do that again.

Also, Gen X Lives!

The Top 5 Gifts to Get that Special Someone at the Office for Valentine’s Day!

Let’s get creepy today!

Remember back when you were in elementary school and your mom or dad would take you to the store and you would pick out your box of Valentine’s to give out at school? You had to make one of those little ‘mailboxes’ out of shoebox so everyone in your class could drop off one, and then you would go home after school and analyze each one like the Zapruder film!

Did Amber make me her ‘special’ Valentine or did she use a generic message card on me!?! Why did Jill put a ‘heart’ on top of her “i” to me? Why did Billy give me the card with kittens? Oh, the humanity of trying to figure out who loved you through the meaning of store-bought valentine cards!

Talk about stress! I’m not sure a kid goes through something more stressful than getting down to those last two or three cards and having to decide which crappy card you have left to give to the school bully so you don’t get beat up!

Thankfully, we are now all adults! Now we just have some weird or creepy person at work who believes they are in love with us and also believing that Valentine’s Day is the day they should profess this love! I’m going to make it easy for you, weird, creepy peeps! I’ve been there. I’ve been in love and struggled for the right gift! No worries, I got your back:

1. Their favorite work-appropriate drink. That special someone likes Starbucks double-shot, low-fat caramel mocha whatever, get them one! If you don’t know their drink order, you aren’t even trying to be a proper crush! This says, hey, I like you, but I’m not a completely insane stalker. Drop it off and be casual, and just say, “I got you your drink, wanted you to have a good start to your valentine’s day”, then walk away, don’t make it awkward!

2. Something sweet. Candy, cookie, cupcake. It’s traditional. It’s thoughtful. It doesn’t have to be consumed immediately. You can drop it off when they are at their work station or when they aren’t with a little note. Don’t be weird and make some creepy note (“I got you something sweet because I bet you taste sweet!” Vomit!)

3. Flowers from Anonymous. If you really want to win the day. Send that special someone flowers, but make it anonymous, and keep it anonymous! The great thing about the anonymous flowers is that person will talk about it all day, if not longer. The downfall is they might assume they came from the person they are really attracted to and that person might not be you! This doesn’t work if you’re already “kind of talking” to this person.

4. Jewelry! Kidding, don’t ever give jewelry to a co-worker that you are not romantically involved with! This is super creepy! Plus, it’s poor taste to do that level of gift at work. Only give jewelry to that special someone when you’re alone. Those idiots who propose to their special someone in a public place should be shot.

5. An invitation. You don’t know until you know…The reality is we all want to be wanted, but they might not want you, or they might. An email that says, Happy Valentine’s Day! I would love to take you out for a drink or dinner or a coffee. Let me know. Big risk, big payoff or big rejection. But, it allows the person in their own space to make a decision. If you don’t push the issue, you can survive this in the workplace. Pro tip: if you get rejected on this attempt, never do it again with this person and never mention it, ever, to anyone. Lock it away! The most creepy people in the world will turn this into a public thing at the office. Don’t do that!

So, you’ve got your one-week warning! Next Friday is Valentine’s Day. Valentine’s Day on a Friday is like the holy grail of Valentine’s Day. Crazy stuff happens because you have the weekend to fall in love or recover from your heartbreak! Are you ready!?!

Kobe on Leadership and Life!

It seems like the entire world is talking about Kobe. The tragic accident that cost nine people their lives, including Kobe and his daughter.

I’m a Kobe fan.

It’s complicated, being a Kobe fan.

He has been accused of something horrible in his past. Like most rich people in the world, he got it to go away without any of us truly knowing the truth, but suspecting a whole bunch.

Kobe is one of the best basketball players ever. I loved watching him compete. I love watching him yell at teammates and seemingly not care if he was liked or disliked because he wanted to win more than anyone else on the planet. I love watching him with his daughters. Maybe the worst thing in his past, made him even a better father and husband (I don’t know).

Kobe is not like you or I. He was a true genius. He was better than 99.999999% of people who have ever played basketball. Most of us aren’t in the top ten percent of anything we do in life. Genius is extremely rare. Most people can’t understand genius. It’s a bit scary and completely uncomfortable from what we are used to.

As I said, it’s complicated being a Kobe fan.

In 2012, Kobe posted this on Facebook about leadership-

So, let’s breakdown the brilliance of what Kobe is saying about being a great leader:

1. Are you willing to make those around you uncomfortable to make them better?

2. Are you willing to push those around so much they might actually hate you at the time?

3. Success is more important, in the end, than being liked. 

4. Don’t tolerate victims.

5. We all have a leadership style that will get us to our highest level, it’s not all the same. 

I mourn the loss of a great basketball player and parent you died tragically with his daughter in a helicopter crash, as he was taking her to play the game he loved. I can’t imagine the heartache of those they left behind. As a father that has done that thousands of times, my own heart aches.

We are a totality of what we do in the world. That’s hard for me to reconcile. Humans can do the most wonderful, uplifting things we can ever imagine, and the most awful, and be the same person. Like I said, life is complicated and I tend to actually like how Kobe viewed leadership.

 

The Truly Absurd Power of a Bad Idea!

Have you ever been caught in a downward vortex of a truly crappy idea that at some point you wondered to yourself, “how the heck did we get here!?”

I like to think I’m the kryptonite of bad ideas in my organization. It’s part of my personality of being a bit unfiltered in my thoughts and ideas. If I think something is a bad idea, I’m probably going to say something. Or at least, I hope I will say something.

Why don’t we stop bad ideas in organizations?

  1. We never want to tell someone their idea is bad. We say things like, “there are no bad ideas!” Of course, there are bad ideas! That’s just a dumb statement. There are ideas that can ruin your company and your career. If some idiot opening shares a bad idea, it should be up to us as peers to point this out and help them out.
  2. The person sharing the idea is in a power position. This one is hard. Well, Tina is the boss! I don’t like her idea, but we have to go along with her or else it will probably look bad and she’ll make sure she crushes my career. This is the worst! If you’re a leader, you need to find someone who will tell you the truth about your stupid ideas.
  3. We all know it’s a bad idea but we’ve got so much already invested we need to make it work. Ugh! My grandmother would call this, “throwing good money after bad”. Well, we’ve come this far, we have to make it work. The best organizations know when to call it quits on a bad idea, take the loss, and begin a new in a better direction.

So, bad ideas grow and prosper basically because we don’t want to hurt feelings or hurt our own careers.

I do think there are some strategies we can use to help get us out of a bad idea. Some things that will allow us to protect our relationships and our careers, and put us on a better path.

If I think of the times that I saw someone’s bad idea blow up in their face, it happened because it was done publicly. If we have the ability to sit down privately with the individual and talk through it, I usually find that together we can create something better, and change a bad idea into something that will work, and it saves face for all involved.

In terms of people in the position of power who have bad ideas, I like, again, speaking to them in private, but also using data and competitive data to try and influence their decision in another direction. I’ve also used a strategy that is a bit risky, but it’s going over their head in a way that seems like you weren’t doing it on purpose. Like, “Oh, I want to share this data with the entire company because I found it so fascinating and thought others would have interest!” Data that shows we should be doing something else, in hopes, it sparks an idea for someone to change.

The reality is bad ideas happen every day in our organizations and it’s up to us to help create a culture where we reward stopping bad ideas. Where we respect each other so highly we are confronting bad ideas as a way to help that person’s career, not point out their failure. If we can get to that point, we put ourselves in a position to take the power out of bad ideas!

HR Managers! Sometimes Executive Compensation is Above Your Pay Grade!

From the front lines of in the weeds HR Management in Detroit – HR Manager claims to have been fired for whistleblowing on some unfair executive compensation practices!

From the front lines of real HR:

A human resources manager at the publicly-funded Great Lakes Water Authority has filed a whistleblower arbitration case against the agency, claiming she was fired only days after raising concerns about lucrative new retirement benefits for authority CEO Sue McCormick, and how they were handled.

The benefit netted McCormick, a former manager of the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department, more than $90,000 in additional retirement money in 2018 — an amount so large, it had to be split over two years to conform with Internal Revenue Service maximum retirement contributions by an employer.

Hmmm…sounds fishy…continue:

Though other GLWA employees also received the benefit — designed for former Detroit water department employees who left city employment to come to GLWA before becoming vested in the city’s pension system — McCormick’s bonus under the program was, by far, the largest, said Stephanie Stevenson, a human resources manager with the agency whose job included oversight of employee benefits…

…Stevenson said it seemed as if policies were being created specifically to assist McCormick with her predicament — and were being made without consulting Stevenson, who oversaw benefits.

“This was unfair. It was like an abuse of power — corrupt,” Stevenson said.

Rule number one in HR Fight Club – do not make a benefit change without first consulting the HR Pro in the house!

So, the GLWA decided to terminate HR Manager Stephanie. Did they terminate her because of the whistleblower complaint? “No!” was the exact quote from lawyers representing GLWA. Why was Stephanie fired? They weren’t saying…

Here’s the thing.

Almost every executive makes so much more than the run of the mill employee, and HR Manager, that when you see something like your initial impression is something isn’t right about this! Executive compensation is a different animal altogether!

Now, I don’t know if Stephanie was fired for whistleblowing. But, when you hear the explanation of the additional compensation benefit and its design, whether it was done specifically for the CEO or not, they dotted their i’s and crossed their t’s, and while most employees couldn’t take advantage of this additional benefit, all were eligible.

“Unfair” isn’t illegal and sometimes that’s is so hard to accept. Is it fair this CEO gets a bunch of money given to them when most employees will not be given anywhere near this amount? No. Is it illegal? Also, No.

If I was a betting man, Stephanie, got fired not for whistleblowing, but for probably some stuff she did to prove something illegal was going on, when it really wasn’t, but it felt like it was. Why don’t people come forward with whistleblowing complaints? Because either way, no one wants you around afterward. Rightly or wrongly, a trust has been broken. That’s not right, that’s reality. Funny enough, most HR pros actually know the math on this!

What I find most helpful when dealing with executive compensation stuff like this is to bring a few people into the decision-making process, and have us all together at the same time. I want someone from my legal team, someone from my HR team, and someone from my finance team, hopefully with their CPA. Are we legal, are we following tax laws, are we breaking policy we shouldn’t? Is everyone good? Okay, go.

Executives are hired and fired for making decisions above our pay grade. Sometimes they get benefits that seem unfair and exorbitant. The big question you need to ask, is this illegal or simply just unfair? Those are two very different things!

Are you a “People Person”?

I was listening to an executive the other day talk about what he needed in an employee. Of course, there were the job skills and competencies, formal education was one, and then that magical phrase came, “Oh, and the candidates better be a ‘people person’!”

A People Person.

What the living hell does that even mean?

A People Person: A person who enjoys and is particularly good at interacting with others. 

Oh, so like a normal person who isn’t an asshole?

The skill of being “A People Person” might be the most over-valued skill of all time. And not because it’s not important, not one wants you to hire an asshole, but because have you ever met someone who when asked said, “You know, I’m just not A People Person!” No! You haven’t! Everyone, from the beginning of time, says they are A People Person!

The reality is, we ask for it because we know the truth, most people don’t enjoy interacting with others. We put up with idiots we run into every day, some of us are better at than others, no profession really does better than another.

In HR, we like to say, “We the People Person People”, but I find it’s actually the opposite. Most HR pros I run into might have the worst People Person skills, but they are paid to do a job, so put on the act fairly well. Once in a while, you find that true kind soul who seems, almost naively, to get along with everyone. “Oh that Mark, he’s a stinker, but you know he once opened a door for me, he’s good people!” Those people might be only real people persons in the world.

I’ve been labeled A People Person in my career. The reality is I’m an inch deep and a mile wide in terms of my interest, so I just have a skill of finding those few things I have in common with people I meet, so conversation comes easy for me when I meet new people. But, I dislike people at the same rate as others. I would consider myself as much of an asshole as most people, I might just hide it better at the right times.

Maybe that’s the true real skill of A People Person. Not being an asshole at the wrong time. Or at least limiting those times you’re an asshole.

Here’s the thing: The next time you hear someone say or ask for A People Person, just smile and chuckle a bit on the inside, because what they are really saying is “I just want someone who isn’t that much of an asshole” but saying “A People Person” sounds so much more professional!

 

2019 – A Year of Gratitude!

I tend to love the “Year In Review” shows and articles, etc. It’s easy to forget how much actually gets done or happens in a year! It seems like it goes by in the blink of an eye, the next one starts, and most of what happened is forgotten.

I had a lot happen in 2019, but as I began to write about all those things, the things seemed less important and the people involved in those things were really the things I remembered. So, I thought, Oh, I’ll just write about all the people I’m grateful to have interacted with and met in 2019. Yeah, that was way too long of a list!

And I’m stuck. Stuck in regards to what to write, for a person who never gets writer block! Probably because the big thing that happened in 2019 was I lost my mother, unexpectedly in February, and in our culture, and being a man, that should be over ‘by now’. We move on. The year certainly did. There are a few months that I’m not even sure what really happened. It’s all a blur.

The people in your life when tragedy happens are never appreciated enough. You aren’t in a space where you can appreciate them and by the time you are, so much time has passed it seems strange to even mention it. I’m so grateful for so many people surrounding this, I just need to show some of that gratitude:

My wife. I was stuck in Las Vegas on February 21, 2019. Vegas had measurable snow for the first time in a decade. I got the call my Mom had died. I was stuck. No planes in or out for 24 hours. My wife and sister had to take on the responsibility of the most terrible thing that has ever happen to us. I’m always in control. I’m the one the family turns to. I was locked in a hotel room in Vegas. Helpless. She did it. She handled it all. I’m beyond grateful for all of that.

My right-hand lady in business, Teresa Carper. I have this awesome, smart, caring, woman who works beside me. She lets me big ideas, and she executes. We’ve worked side-by-side for a decade, and she was also close to my mom. No way I make it through the year without her. Really the entire HRU team has had to put up with me basically being someone else for the most of the year. I’m beyond grateful for their patience.

My best friend, Kris Dunn. I’ve taken Kris’s call when his mom passed and had plenty of talks about his parents and their impact on his life. KD had to take that call from me this year. Two grown-ass men talking about feelings (that could be a great podcast I think!).  It’s unusual in our world where guys can have this and I’m grateful for my friendship with Kris.

My family – I’ve got this super weird, extended family dynamic that is a sitcom waiting to happen, but I had so many of my family step up in great ways. It’s too much to go into each one, but I’m so grateful for their support.

My friends – The night in Vegas when I got the call I was just walking out of my room to dinner with Carmen Hudson. I was speaking the next morning at Recruiting Trends. I called Carmen in shock, told her what happened, and this amazing woman took control. I don’t even really remember the conversation with her. She just made all of that stuff I was responsible for go away. I’m grateful for friends stepping up at the moment.

My mom. Since I was little, my Mom put me in a position to have high confidence in myself. She didn’t do that with everyone, but she did with me. That helped me succeed at a lot of stuff. She also fired me, which probably was the single biggest thing she did to help me become successful. I wasn’t ready, as a business person, to run her company. I was an asshole. Or at least I acted like an asshole way too often. Getting fired by your mom sticks with you for a while!

When the time came on February 22, 2019, to take over the business (for real) and take on leading the family, I was ready because of all those things my mom did for me. It wasn’t always fun. I didn’t always like her for doing what she did, but I was ready. I’m grateful for my Mom helping me be ready to take on all of this responsibility.

I could have listed a thousand people I’m grateful for. It’s a bit overwhelming and heartwarming that I have so many. I can definitely count my blessings in so many ways. I don’t think 2019 was my best year. It was good, but I was really knocked off-center for a bit. My hope is 2020 will be a better year in terms of focus. My plan is to write my second book and have it launched in 2021! (Oh, God, I’ve been contemplating this, but now it’s out in the universe, I better make it happen!)

I’m also launching a new podcast with my friends, Kris Dunn and Jessica Lee, called “HR Famous”! You should see episodes up by Mid-January. I’m speaking all over the place. I want to do more video work. Of course, I’ll be writing and sharing my thoughts, ideas, and reactions. Thank you for being with me on this journey. I’m grateful to have this platform and so many people who find it interesting.

 

 

The Best of 2019: The 3 Rules About Kissing Your Boss!

I’m on a holiday break. Boys are home, we’re going on a trip. So, I’ve put together a Best of 2019 post list for you to enjoy. I’ll be back after the holidays with new stuff and some cool announcements for 2020! (This post was actually written in 2017, but for some reason got new life this year and was of the most read) 

May 20, 2013, I published a silly little post on my blog called “The Rules About Hugging at Work”. The post might have taken me twenty minutes to write. It was just an idea I got, like thousands of others, I thought it was funny, so I wrote about it. To date, it’s been read over 1 Million times. Huff Post picked it up, it went viral on LinkedIn (I got over 1300 comments), I’ve been interviewed and called, “The World’s Foremost Expert on Workplace Hugging”.

Twenty minutes of writing, a throwaway idea.

Months later I posted the exact same post on LinkedIn’s publishing platform. This was before everyone could publish (remember that), you had to be invited. I got a call from the LinkedIn chief editor offering me access. I didn’t know if it was really anything so I just threw up old posts I had already written but added a few new pieces.

On the Hugging post, I added at the bottom my next post would be: The 3 Rules About Kissing Your Boss! as a joke. I never wrote it. Until five years later I got a message last week from someone who found the hugging post for the first time asking how they could find the kissing post! I didn’t even know what they were talking about!

So, here’s the kissing post! 

It would be easy to dismiss the notion of kissing your boss as something that would never happen. When I say ‘never’ I mean never. I mean honestly do any of us ever feel it would be appropriate to kiss your boss!?

This one is hard for me. I come from a family of huggers and kissers! My father is 73 and he still kisses me on the lips when I greet him or say goodbye. Some folks would find that super weird. Different cultures do different things.

My son was overseas this summer visiting friends in Belgium and it was quite common for new people he met to give him that traditional kiss on the cheek, but he said those same people would not give you a hug or a handshake. This kiss on the cheek greeting is very common in many parts of the world.

In America, you would probably get punched in the face if you tried kissing someone on the cheek you were meeting for the first time! I mean, look, if I don’t know you, I certainly don’t want your germs all over my face! Most Europeans I meet for business purposes in the states who come here often have gotten used to handshakes, rarely do I see one of them do the cheek kiss greeting.

All of this is way different, though, then kissing your boss! Kissing your boss would have to be a special circumstance or special occasion. I’m guessing if you’re kissing your boss one of a few things probably hasn’t happened in that relationship. You’ve probably become very good friends, some once in a lifetime event is happening, or you’ve become romantically involved, in which case, not really your boss any longer!

So, if we can see a time in which you might kiss your boss, the great HR pro in me says we better put some pen to policy and make some rules! Here are my three rules for kissing your boss:

1. No kissing on the lips. Kissing on the lips is a slippery slope you can’t put back in the bag! Wants that happens you might as well just get undressed, stuff just got real! We’re going to assume this kiss is not romantic in nature, completely as professional as kissing your boss can be professional!

2. Do not leave moisture on your boss’s cheek. Okay, somehow we got down this rabbit hole to a point where I’m kissing my boss on his or her cheek, let’s not make this super awkward by leaving a nice big wet spot on the side of their face. If you’re so excited to be kissing your boss’s cheek that you leave it wet, you should be checked into a mental ward.

3. Do not have bad breath. First impressions are critical and even though your boss knows you, your boss doesn’t know the kissing you. Do not go in for that first boss kiss with bad breath! I love Ice Breakers Mints and I have some close by almost always. Why? I can’t stand bad breath. Coffee breath is the worst and I know a lot of you are major coffee drinkers! Guess what? Diet Mt Dew breath smells like a flower garden! Think about that next time you go for a fill-up at the coffee station at work!

See? That’s how you do it. That’s how the World’s Foremost Expert in Workplace Hugging becomes the World’s Foremost Expert on Boss Kissing. You can’t be a one-trick pony in this world folks, we all need to keep striving on reinventing ourselves. Watch out fall conference circuit! If you see Sackett coming I might have just raised the game!

So, hit me in the comments. What are your rules for kissing your boss!?

The One Thing that Correlates to High Employee Happiness in Your Office!

Oh, I bet its working for a great boss! Or, maybe it’s having a best friend at work! No, it must be dog-friendly! Puppies make me happy! I wonder if it’s money or free tacos or something like that!?

No, you’re all wrong!

In fact, the one thing that correlates to high employee happiness at the office is the one thing you’re destroying! Isn’t that great! We’ve got one shot, one opportunity, to seize everything our employees ever wanted, but in that moment we let it slip…

There was a study done recently that asked about their modern workplaces. What was it in their office that made them the happiest? Turns out 90% of us want a private office. Yet, on the flip side, in all of our brilliance over 54% of us are converting our offices to open floor plans! Why? Because we’re stupid!

Also, because employees are kind of stupid in answering these kinds of surveys! They will tell you they want one of those cool, open office concepts with the bean bag chairs and picnic tables in a big room because look at those pictures of all the smiling faces of those employees. Also, is it just me, or do those smiling faces seem really attractive as well!? You know what? If we had open offices we would be more attractive!

For a decade, idiots like me and every media outlet known to man as talked about how Millennials just want open, collaborative spaces. We’ll be more productive, and have better teamwork, and make faster decisions, and be more collaborative, and we’ll solve global warming! The reality is much different. Turns out, working in a big, loud room with a bunch of fellow idiots employees makes you less productive.

Oh, great I get to sit in the middle of a giant room, across a giant table and watch Steven pick his nose.

Here’s what happy productive employees actually want in an office:

  • Private.
  • Great WiFi and up to date technology.
  • Quiet.
  • Comfortable.
  • Cool design (which doesn’t equal ‘open concept’).
  • Well lighted.
  • Professional.
  • Clean, but not sterile.

Do we really hate cubes? Well, we hate cube farms that remind us of 1979 Soviet Union. I don’t think most hate cubes that are designed for modern workspaces. The problem is we tend to not think about how we can use cubes in a modern design that lets people have a private space, but also open space for times they want that as well. It’s either cube farm or giant open warehouse, we tend to not think in between.

Ultimately, our employees want privacy and cool. So, now you can figure out what that looks like over the next decade!

If you think GenZs are Entitled Snowflakes, You’re an Idiot!

I made this joke on Twitter recently:

This has been a frustration of so many of my peers in Human Resources over the past couple of years. We have leaders, usually Gen X or Boomers, who think anyone younger than them are called “Millennials”. It’s uninformed at best, and just a bad look for leaders in our organizations.

The crazy part is it’s not just about getting the generational names correct, it’s also about how we tag a generation. I’m not a fan of “generational” training programs, but they are hugely popular. I get requests to come and talk about generational differences to organizations monthly, and I’ve never spoken about generational differences!

For some reason, we are fascinated by the concept of having multiple generations working together in the workplace. We want to know all the broad differences between the generations, knowing as soon as we throw out one of those stereotypes, we immediately look like idiots.

I’m particularly triggered by older leaders who feel Gen Z’s are just a bunch of kids you are entitled snowflakes on their phone all of the time. I’m this way because I have three Gen Z sons and see who they, and their friends, are becoming and in so many ways they will outshine my Gen X generation over the same period of time, by a mile!

CNN did an article highlighting four GenZs who are doing amazing things:

  • One is teaching swimming to people with disabilities.
  • One started a movement to cheer up kids going through difficult times.
  • One is helping Vets in need.
  • One is making and delivering “Blessing Bags” for the needy.

What all of these GenZ people have in common is what I see from my own GenZ connections. GenZ grew up during the Great Recession and saw what hard times do to people. In turn, that experienced shaped them into young people who want to help others, are willing to do the work to help others, and do it in a way that is modern and digital.

Yes, they are on their phones a lot. So, are we all. But, they use this digital world to do things a speed we could have never comprehended when we were their age. They are consuming information at a rate far exceeding every generation before them, which makes them better informed than most before them.

I wouldn’t call them entitled or snowflakes. They are not delicate or looking for a handout. They were raised in hard times and they are giving back as much as any before them. You might call me a fan of this generation. I have so much hope for what they will bring to the world. As a parent, I guess we probably all feel that way about our kids.

As we get ready to go into 2020, I would love to see all leaders embrace this growing younger workforce in a way that is positive and hopeful for the future. I think we are in good hands with GenZ!