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Upcoming webcasts on social networking, Gen Y

Posted: - Modified: | gen-y, web2.0

Here are some free upcoming webcasts I’m planning to attend:

Brazen Careerist: Capturing the Hearts and Minds of Young Talent through Blogs
Presenter: Penelope Trunk, CEO & Founder, Brazen Careerist
Date: Wed, 3 Dec 2008
Time: 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM ET
Grassroots Networking: The Pros and Cons of Growing Your Social Network
Panelists: Shannon Baker, HR Manager, Cisco Systems, Inc. Deborah Casaubon, Director, Talent Development, Cisco Systems, Inc. Megan Hundley, HR Manager, Cisco Systems, Inc.
Date: Thu, 4 Dec 2008
Time: 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM ET
Best Practices in Integrated Corporate Social Networking: The Intersection of CSN, Web 2.0 and Talent Management
Presenters: Charles Coy, Director of Product Marketing, Cornerstone OnDemand, Allan Schweyer, Exec. Director & SVP, Research, Human Capital Institute (HCI)
Date: Wed, 10 Dec 2008
Time: 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM ET
I Can Do It Myself! Providing Gen X and Gen Y Employees with A New Breed of e-learning Tools
Presenter: Tom Casey, Principal, The Concours Group
Date: Thu, 11 Dec 2008
Time: 3:00 PM – 4:00 PM ET

Anyone else dialing in? =) Maybe we can share notes.

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Gen Y Perspective: Why Gen Y Won’t Stay at Jobs that Suck

| career, gen-y

In yesterday’s talk by Bea Fields on managing Gen Y, one of the listeners asked how much of a fun circus work would need to become in order to attract and retain younger workers. The well-known and much-criticized Gen Y tendency to job hop makes Gen Y retention a key issue for companies around the world. Here’s my Gen Y perspective on this issue: when work-life balance is important and career plans are chaotic, it just doesn’t pay to work at jobs that suck.

Why do people work at jobs that don’t make them happy? There seem to be three main reasons:

  • They need the money or the health insurance.
  • They don’t care about the sacrifices they have to make.
  • They see it as a stepping-stone towards a bigger opportunity.

Let’s look at those three reasons from a Gen Y perspective.

Do they need the money or the health insurance?

Many Gen Yers still live at home, so they have less financial pressure. Others live on their own or with friends, but aren’t carrying mortgages or supporting families. True, many Gen Yers experience financial pressure from student loans, credit card debt and other obligations, but most can get by.

What about health care? We’re in the prime of our lives, and most don’t need to worry about losing insurance coverage. Life insurance and family insurance needs are low, because we typically don’t have any dependents. That means we can shift jobs without worrying about not being covered in the meantime.

Why else would people take jobs they weren’t happy in? They might not care about the other sacrifices they need to make, such as working long hours and living under high stress.

I know many Gen Yers who work overtime and weekends, but I also know many Gen Yers who prioritize work-life balance and who make time in their lives for other things. If their jobs don’t allow them to have the kind of life they want, they’ll look for other opportunities. They know that for every company that talks about company loyalty and retention but then turns around and expects an unsustainable pace of work, there are also companies that walk the walk and are really interested in improving workplace flexibility–not just for senior employees, but for everyone.

Why would people work so hard, anyway? The answer is related to the third reason why people stay in jobs that don’t make them happy. They see those jobs as stepping-stones to greater opportunities.

It used to be that you would “pay your dues” in a boring, thankless job, eventually rising in the ranks and gaining a cushy position. Not any more. After rampant downsizing (I mean, “right-sizing”, or “resource actions”, as IBM likes to call it), the failure of even supposedly rock-solid institutions (hello, Fannie Mae!), and the un-cushy-izing of formerly cushy positions such as partners in law firms (who are now subject to the threat of de-equitization) is it any wonder why many people–Gen Y, especially, as we’re making these entry-level decisions–no longer believe in long-term career planning and in paying your dues in a thankless position?

Lesson One in Daniel Pink‘s unconventional career guide The Adventures of Johnny Bunko is: “There is no plan.”

There is no plan. If there can be no neat plan from getting from point A to point B, if being the office gopher won’t get you to the corner office, if you can burn yourself out because of overtime and high stress but still be laid off because of unpredictable market conditions, then it makes sense to take a step back, invest in yourself, and do work that creates value and make you happy.

Gen Y knows this: your employer pays you, but you ultimately work for yourself. You are ultimately responsible for developing your own skills, finding your own opportunities, and making the life that you want.

Gen Y challenges for recruiting and retention, such puzzling issues for HR departments all over the world, are really just logical reactions to the realities of the marketplace. It makes sense to pick jobs and organizations where you can create value, learn, and enjoy working. It makes sense to contribute and learn as much as you can, then move before you get moved–whether it’s to another job in the organization, or to another organization entirely. It makes sense to make sure that there’s something in it for you.

Does that mean that Gen Yers are mercenary? No. In fact, money isn’t the biggest reason why Gen Yers leave organizations. Gen Yers are looking for opportunities to make a difference, to grow, to connect, and to work with people they admire. Dot-com-like perks like foosball tables are fun, but they don’t make up for opportunities to make a difference.

The organization that can quickly tap new Gen Yers’ passions and skills, move them into a position where they can contribute in a meaningful way, and help them build the social networks that will make them even more productive–that’s the kind of organization that will be able to easily recruit and retain Gen Y, because that’s the kind of organization that understands what matters.

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Gen Y Perspective: Flexibility, Work-Life Balance, and Curb Cuts

Posted: - Modified: | gen-y, management

In today’s Teach Me Teamwork seminar on managing Gen Y, Bea Fields (the author of Millennial Leaders) mentioned that many managers are taken aback by Gen Y’s demands for flextime, telecommuting, and other work-life balance initiatives. Some companies complain about the lack of work ethic in young employees and wonder how much of a circus work needs to be in order to retain and engage Gen Y. Other companies are adapting, exploring results-only work environments and other-than-traditional-office arrangements.

I am really glad that Gen Yers have the chutzpah and the numbers to make workplace flexbility and work-life balance a front-and-center issue. We’ve seen the consequences of other people’s decisions. We’ve seen people work overtime, weekends, and holidays for companies that then laid them off in resource actions or folded because of market circumstances. Many Gen Yers come from separated families where stress from work took its toll. The lesson? Making a living can’t be more important than living a life.

What do Gen Yers want? Here’s what often comes up:

  • A focus on results, not just face-time
  • The ability to work from home or from anywhere
  • The flexibility to work when we’re most effective, whether that’s early in the morning or late at night

Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Workplace flexibility and work-life balance weren’t a Gen Y issue in the beginning. This started with working mothers who found themselves pulled between the demands of family and job. Some fathers were interested in this too, but social conventions stopped it from becoming a real issue. Gen Y of both genders care about work-life balance and flexibility, and not just because of family responsibilities.

I read a lot about work-life balance, and I talk to a lot of people who’ve made decisions either way. I’ve heard how focusing on work can become a vicious cycle: if the rest of your life suffers because of your focus on work, then it’s easier to focus on work and harder to build up the rest of your life to the point where you enjoy it again. I don’t mind the occasional crunch. I want a sustainable pace, and life is too short to work at a company that wants to burn me out instead of help me grow.

Initiatives for workplace flexibility and work-life balance are like the curb-cuts that make cities better for people in wheelchairs: they benefit many more people than the original targets. If you’ve ever rolled a stroller or a suitcase along a busy street, you know how great those curb-cuts are. Flextime, telecommuting, results-only work environments, and other initiatives aren’t just about attracting and retaining Gen Y. They also help companies make the most of other people’s talents: Baby Boomers phasing into semi-retirement, Gen Xers starting to raise their own families, and people who work in non-traditional arrangements.

Flexibility and work-life balance: good for everyone.

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Knowledge [shared] is power

| gen-y, social, web2.0

Here’s an excerpt from Aaron Kim’s blog post about meritocracy and social media:

Furthermore, Web 2.0 and Social Media are leveling the professional playing field. Two quotes by Pauline Ores (who is the IBM personification of Social Media Marketing) during the O&M event caught my attention:

  1. In the Social Media world, the most powerful person is the one who shares the most.
  2. Control in Social Media is like grabbing water: the stronger you grab, the less you hold. There’s a right way to retain water, but not by being forceful.

Meritocracy, Pauline Ores and the multi-dimensional IT Professional « The bamboo raft

It reminded me of something that I learned while putting together a presentation on Generation Y and how work is changing.

Knowledge is still power. The old way was to keep knowledge secret, thus ensuring your power. The new way is to share it, and thus to make it grow.

Together with lots of other people in IBM and elsewhere, Aaron Kim helps me realize that I’m on to something good.

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The Road to Me 2.0: How I Was the Chosen One « Personal Branding Blog – Dan Schawbel

| gen-y, web2.0, writing

In The Road to Me 2.0: How I Was the Chosen One, Dan Schawbel writes about how he got a book deal on Web 2.0 career development for Millennials. This of course makes me slightly envious, because I’m passionate about that topic too, but then I’m supposed to already be working on my Emacs book. Mrph.

But that’s okay, I can just keep writing blog posts…

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First impressions in an e-mail world

| gen-y

I really wish I could’ve spent more time in Washington–not only to spend a month or two in the Smithsonian Museum, but also to run into people like Jeff Widman, who’s normally based in Seattle but who happened to be in Washington when I was there.

Jeff e-mailed me last Tuesday to introduce himself and see if we could get together and chat about Gen Y and social media. That in itself was cool (I love connecting with other Gen Yers working in this space), but you know what was even cooler? He attached a PDF to introduce himself. Digging around on his blog, I came across an online version of it:

Neat idea! I’m tempted to make one myself (or refine my self-introduction in verse), because people often wonder (a) what I do for a living, and (b) how on earth I managed to get an opportunity to do that. =)

Good idea. Go out and make your own. =)

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Slidecast: New Media, New Generation

| enterprise2.0, gen-y, presentation, talk, web2.0
new media, new generation

View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: enterprise2.0 web2.0)

I gave a panel presentation entitled “New Media, New Generation” at the Corporate Voices meeting in Washington DC on September 9, 2008. Around 40 director- and partner-level people (many in HR) attended from private corporations and nonprofit organizations. On the panel with me were Paull Young (Senior Account Executive, Converseon) and John Wolf (Senior Director, PR, Marriott). Things that went well:

  • People loved the informal style of my hand-drawn presentation. They told me that the stick figures were both clear and engaging.
  • People also really appreciated my energy, enthusiasm, and passion.
  • I met lots of people and gave them tips on social media.
  • I enjoyed figuring out a good structure for the presentation. The symmetric structure (new media = social media, new generation = net generation, and a 2×2 matrix) was easy to remember, and I figured out how to make the topics flow into each other.
  • I told stories as part of my presentation, and those stories were easy to remember as well.
  • Joining people for dinner beforehand and listening to a number of the other presentations gave me not only a sense of what people were interested in, but enough rapport with people so that I felt comfortable chatting.
  • I remembered to record audio and video, and to ask someone to pay attention to the video camera. Most of the talk was captured on video – hooray! I’ve added the recorded audio to my presentation on Slideshare (see above), and I’ve synchronized it with the slides.

Things I can do even better next time:

  • I can update my Talks page before heading to the presentation.
  • I can ask the organizers for an attendee list so that I can get a better sense of who the audience members are.
  • With a little more polish, I can make the presentation handout a good opportunity for more branding and help.
  • I can work on pausing instead of using filler words like “right?”
  • A proper video camera set up on a tripod near the front would give me better-quality video recordings.
  • I can ask the organizers for tips on which airport I should use.
  • I can ask my frequent-flyer friends how they make the most of travel time. Two hours is too short to really get into code. Maybe I should go earlier? Maybe those frequent flyer clubs are useful for something after all. Maple Leaf Club Worldwide (Air Canada) is CA$599/year. How much would I need to travel in order to make something like that worthwhile, and do I want to travel that much?
  • I can bring a phone that isn’t on the fritz. =)
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