Thursday, July 31, 2008

What motivates YOU?

"I am not a dolphin. I do not work for food."

That's something my husband says when he hears about someone's boss "rewarding" the team with bagels -n- cream cheese.

"Good worker," pat pat on the head. "Here's a treat my good good worker," rub behind the ears.

I think the food-as-reward technique is something that may at one time have been effective, but it's now just insulting. You know what motives me? Money. Respect. Fulfilling work.

I had a job not too long ago where someone was always bringing in some type of breakfast food and leaving it in the breakroom for everyone to pick at. As if a doughnut will improve morale. After lunch, however, the doughnut bringers would treat you to a verbal bitch-slapping for something that probably wasn't your fault in the first place.

I don't think this is really a generational issue. It's more of a changing workplace issue. Back in the day when girls were girls and men were men, the secretarial pool probably put on a mean potluck that was enjoyed by all the executives (men, of course, who weren't required to bring a dish to pass.) Today, the workplace potluck is something to try to get out of.

What are some better ways to reward employees? How about money? How about sending them home a couple hours early on a Friday? Oh, yeah, and my favorite: How about treating them like adults and respecting the talent they bring to the company?

There are a lot of great bosses who do it right. But I think we all have our stories of bad ones.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Yo Bert, Yous and Ernie Rock!

When I was a kid, I had Ernie and Bert puppets. Then one day, my little sister, Amy, tore off Bert's hair and eyebrows. My mom was so freaked out by it, she drew Bert's hair and eyebrows back with a sharpee marker. My mom still has the Bert puppet with the drawn on hair and eyebrows - my kids play with it (man, sharpees are good markers, yo).

Today, my husband found this. If you are an Xer - and this doesn't bring a tear to your eye, then I'm not sure you're really an Xer.

What's your Sesame Street memory?

This one is for you Amy!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Anyone else bored with the Boomer/Millennial love fest?

There seems to be an awful lot written recently about how great the Boomer/Millennial relationship is. How they work together. How they will do it all, because (if we're even mentioned), Gen X is sooooo small.

I think this is a bunch of crap and it makes me not want to read blogs.

Here's the thing, it doesn't matter if Gen X is small. We still invented Google,, and Grunge rock.

Gen X is small, but it doesn't mean you don't need those workers ages 29-44.

Gen X is small, but we are still responsible for the most recent baby boom (what, you thought the parents of all those babies being born now are 55-year-old boomers? Not.)

So here's the thing I'm wondering - what's annoying you lately?

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

I know why people hate their jobs

A recent study of more than 7K American workers reports that 78 percent are burnt out. So I thought to myself, I know why this is going on - and it's not the increased workloads, less employees, blah blah blah.

It's because their bosses suck.

We are in a time of great change right now. The Industrial Age is over, but someone has forgotten to tell the bosses. Until a year ago, I worked for probably the worst boss ever. He did everything wrong. But the two things he did worst were 1) Make sure I was in my seat at all times and 2) Think he knew how to do my job better than I did (he didn't).

However, now I work for a great boss. That's why I know the survey is not on the mark. My workload is probably four times what it used to be. But guess what? I'm a telecommuter. I can work when I am most productive. And as long as I meet my outcomes, I have no one making sure I'm in my seat. It is liberating. And I am a happy camper.

So here's the thing: Knowledge workers are not factory workers or fast food workers. Crappy bosses want everyone to make sure that you know you are on their time - and if there's time to lean, there's time to clean. Crappy bosses are also worried about losing their jobs (and they should be, because the Information Age is making them obsolete).

So, if you want your staff to be happy and productive, stop acting like you're Mr. Slate and they're Fred and Barney. Start evaluating based on outcomes, not inputs. And stop being a jerk.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Gen X fashion style not worth mentioning

Generation X has been ignored...AGAIN.

This time it's for our keen fashion sense.

A recent article in Business Week discusses the conflict going on in the workforce today between the pantsuit-loving Boomer women and the "if you got it, flaunt it" Millennials. No one seemed to notice that Gen X women are masters of work dress - and they don't have to shop in the men's department to do it.

What annoyed me about this article was not its rant against young women wearing revealing clothes to the office (trust me, I don't want to look at anyone's butt crack either) - nor its suggestion that "butchier is better" (hey, if it works for you go for it). It bugged me that the assumption was that there are only two generations out there in the workforce.

Don't Xers get offended by flip flops? Well, maybe not so much. I ask myself, do I really care if you want to look like an idiot? I guess that goes back to the Generation X "mind your own business" attitude. I doubt an Xer would even take the time to evaluate someone else's clothing style when there's still work to get done.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Boomers think they're getting the shaft

I got a kick out of the Washington Post analysis of a recent study released by the Pew Research Center. Basically, the Boomers say it's harder to get ahead than it was 10 years ago, and it's starting to bum them out. The analysis was definitely written by an Xer, which is probably why it made me giggle so much. Check it out for yourself and let me know what YOU think.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

The real reason there is less conflict among faculty at today's universities

A recent article in the New York Times claims that as the Boomers leave faculty ranks for retirement and Xers start to make up more and more of the U.S. college and university professors, that old rifts are fading. While I agree this is true, the NYT does not understand the real reason why. Here's a bit of the article:

Yet already there are signs that the intense passions
and polemics that roiled campuses during the past couple of decades have begun to fade. At Stanford a divided anthropology department reunited last year after a bitter split in 1998 broke it into two entities, one focusing on culture, the other on biology. At Amherst, where military recruiters were kicked out in 1987, students crammed into a lecture hall this year to listen as alumni who served in Iraq urged them to join the military.

In general, information on professors’ political and ideological leanings tends to be scarce. But a new study of the social and political views of American professors by Neil Gross at the University of British Columbia and Solon Simmons at George Mason University found that the notion of a generational divide is more than a glancing impression. “Self-described liberals are most common within the ranks of those professors aged 50-64, who were teenagers or young adults in the 1960s,” they wrote, making up just under 50 percent. At the same time, the youngest group,
ages 26 to 35, contains the highest percentage of moderates, some 60 percent,
and the lowest percentage of liberals, just under a third.

The article basically argues that the younger people - mainly Gen Xers - are simply more moderate than than the Boomers. While that may be true, I think the real reason is that Xers are more likely to take a "let's agree to disagree" attitude.

Karen Ritchie wrote in Marketing to Generation X that Boomers feel their position is the correct one and if they can just put together the right words, they can convince you they are correct. Meanwhile, Gen Xers don't really think they can change your opinion. I'm a perfect example. My best friend and I are polar opposites in our political views. We've never argued about it. We've never insulted the other's view. We both believe there is room for both of our opinions in the world. I find it difficult to see an ultra liberal Boomer woman and an ultra conservative Boomer woman being best friends.

So for all our Gen X glib remarks - and our sarcastic poking at others in the name of humor - we do seem to be able to live peacefully with a bunch of different views and opinions. At least in academia...