There have been a number of changes to our culture over the past few years. We seem to be gravitating to a society that defines success through images on social media. The number of likes, retweets, or revines one gets for their 6.5 second video seems to be the new badge of honor. And of course most people portray their social status to be pretty amazing online. It makes me wonder what's next. Hopefully something that actually recognizes hard work. Like an app that high fives you for a job well done. Now that would be awesome!
When I speak to fellow business owners, there are a few culture shifts that stand out. Young people come to work these days often lacking a basic understanding of the dress and behavior that’s expected in the business world, and required to be successful in it. They simply lack the most basic training on how to act, talk, and socialize in a professional environment.
You’ve probably heard the complaints about the Millennial generation: spoiled, over-protected, entitled. I’m less judgmental. The problem, in a nutshell, is that Millennials grew up in the age of the reset button and the helicopter parent. If you’re losing in that video game, you just hit the reset button and start over. If you don’t like what’s on TV you can just flip through the channels until you find something better. If you get a bad grade, your mom or dad might just call up the teacher and argue to get it raised.
Our problems begin when young people show up on our doorstep dressed for the beach instead of business, or they think an 8 o’clock meeting starts whenever they can get there, or they are pretty sharp on paper, but have trouble differentiating the way they acted at school with the way they should act at work.
I've had countless opportunities to train new people and while times have changed, the basics stay the same. Since you can't hit the reset button after your first day on the job, and you certainly won't be coddled by your boss, here are a few tips for our young executives in the making, and perhaps some helpful reminders for the rest of us.
The Business Dinner
1) Do not order the most expensive thing on the menu. New-be orders the lobster and everyone else orders a burger...ouch.
2) Wait for everyone to be served before you start to eat. And if you really want to step up your game, wait for the boss to take the first bite (unless the boss forgets rule #2 all together, in which case, still wait for everyone to be served).
3) Break the bread versus shoving it in your mouth. You will look classy.
1) Do not to wear sneakers and white socks with suit pants.
2) Wear white t-shirts under your dress shirts (one of my own mistakes 20 years ago), especially when you are wearing a white dress shirt.
3) Make sure your belt matches your shoes.
4) Watch a video on how to tie a tie so you look like a pro.
5) Do not wear mid riffs, short short skirts, or show a lot of cleavage. Do not take cues on attire from your favorite TV show, especially if it runs on MTV.
1) Men, do not to say "chicks" ("so John, I had these two chicks in my interview and...") or even "girls" for that matter when referring to the "women" or "ladies" that work in the office.
2) Do not to share stories of drunkenness or smuttiness when talking to the receptionists.
3) Do not to tell off color, off gender, off sexual orientation, off race, creed, or nationality type jokes...ever.
4) Do not swear. I have a swear jar at my office. One dollar for the first offense. One dollar for the second offense. Five hundred for the third. I've collected many first and second offenses, but have had no third offenses to worry about.
5) Be early for work versus late. I've been known to lock people out of a meeting for being late. Today I have a softer, yet more effective approach which you can check out in a previous blog called, Leading the Habitually Unpunctual.
The good news is that I’ve also taught many people how to balance their check book, how to check their credit score, how to increase their credit score, how to open a ROTH IRA, how to negotiate rent for office space, how to negotiate everything because everything is negotiable, and how to write a business plan that works.
I've had the pleasure of working with thousands of college-aged men and women, teaching them how to master the basics of business. Treating them with this level of care and respect has allowed me to retain the very best in our business while helping the others go out and use that training to make money, grow their self-confidence, and advance quickly in their careers.
Final tip: if you want to advance quickly in todays workforce you must add value to your company. Look for cost effective ways to improve efficiency and / or productivity. Bring in a new client or volunteer for that new project. Do your homework and be proactive vs. waiting for someone to tell you what to do next. In other words, act as if the business you work for was yours. People will notice.
If you're on a mental break and in the mood for a good read, check out John's Shorts. Tune in next week for the latest blog. (Do they still say, "tune in"?)
by John Wasserman
Proceeds benefit Children's Dyslexia Centers