What Makes a Great Boss- a Millennial Perspective

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What are some of the top reasons that employees leave their job? Well, there are a million and a half reasons people give for leaving. Examples include going back to school, moving to different city/state, having to take care of a loved one, wanting to spend more time with loved ones, or a better opportunity presented itself. From my experience as an HR Professional people don’t quit their job, they quit their boss. So, all leaders out there reading this post- this is a shout out to you. I want to help you retain your employees.

As a leader you are held to higher standards- especially by your employees. Everything you say and do will be scrutinized. With this in mind we should ask: what are employees looking for in a leader? Employees are looking for a leader that cares about them; that will back them up in scary situations, someone that they can trust. Employees are looking for all of these things and more. Now, I am not saying you have to be all touchy feely and cry with people when they are feeling down- NO. I am saying that building a strong, trusting, and transparent relationship is important and will help build your credibility with your employees. You can build these relationships by learning what their hobbies are, about their family, what things are important to them, and what their goals are for the future; and then remembering the information.

The best boss I ever had did all of these things and then some. He was always truly genuine and when it came time for him to part ways with the company, everyone was devastated. A huge party was thrown, a video was made, and many cards were sent. Employees & leaders from all departments came to wish him good luck and farewell. I realize in hindsight all of the things that made him a great leader, and this is my way of sharing that information with you.

This boss truly cared about every one of his employees, even the intern. He knew their kids names, and their spouse’s names, sometimes even their dogs names and he asked how they were doing constantly. He also had a sense of humor! He appreciated every little task that was done by his employees. No task was ever too big or too small and it never went unnoticed. He put a lot of time and effort into building up his employees- making sure they had all the tools that they needed- and in turn this made him look good because all his goals & initiatives were getting accomplished ahead of schedule. When people came to him with questions or concerns, he wouldn’t dictate orders, he would probe and ask questions allowing the employee to deduce the correct answer. That way they learned & would retain the information better. Trust & transparency were big ticket items on his agenda and were things he looked for in his employees.

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In the end, what I learned from working for this boss was that caring about your employees, building genuine relationships, and showing appreciation are just a few things that can take you from good to great in your employee’s eyes. Who was your favorite boss and what kind of things did they do to separate themselves into the great category?

For more interesting reads about leadership visits:

Lolly Daskal

Bret Simmons

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Millennial Music Teacher Spotlight- Rachel Besand

IMG_0209The purpose of my blog is to research and learn how to “Recruit, Engage, and Retain” the Millennial Generation. So today I thought I would interview a Millennial that currently works as an elementary music teacher in Ohio. I wanted to find out what it is like to be a Millennial working as a teacher, and see what challenges she has faced.  The individual I chose to interview today graduated from the University of Akron with a degree in Music Education. I know her to be a very creative, caring, and a driven person. So I asked her the following questions:

  • What is your current job title? What do you currently do?

Answer:   I am an Elementary Band Director for Strongsville City Schools in Ohio; which means I teach beginning band to 5th grade students and I also teach band to 6th grade students.

  • How long have you worked in this occupation?

Answer:   I have been working in this occupations for about 6 months, going around to different elementary schools, in three different districts.

  • What attracted you to work in this field? How did you get started in this position?

Answer: I feel like this career really choose me rather than me choosing it. I really enjoyed teaching and I have always had a passion for music so I just decided to put the two together as a career. I got started by looking for job postings, having a contact in my network, and getting lucky. There were over 200 applicants for the one Elementary Band Director position, and due to my hard work and my strong network I was able to land the position.

  • What do you like most about working as a Music Teacher?

Answer I love the age group of children, and I love the idea of getting them excited about being in a band program and starting them off with good habits. It also provides me with a great opportunity to be creative. I have been working towards this for so long. I have been taught by my predecessors and now I finally get to apply my knowledge. It is extremely rewarding to help teach these young kids who start out not knowing how to even open a music case to performing a concert.

  • What keeps you motivated & engaged in the workplace?

AnswerTeaching is kind of a thankless job, but for me it is very rewarding when you see a kid get it, and accomplish the impossible. My favorite moments are when you help those kids who are struggling, are frustrated and just not getting it, and you help them reach an “ah-ha” moment. When the light bulb clicks on, it motivates me to continue through the hardships of teaching.

  • Do you feel like you have opportunities to move up in this occupation?

Answer: Yes, I do. In the school districts there are many different music departments and the longer I am in the same district there are many other career paths that I can apply for such as Department Head- which is like a Band director/admistrator for all music faculty in the district. So there are options but it is very competitive.

  • What is it like to be a Millennial working in elementary education?

Answer: It’s very interesting. I look very young and so it has been difficult in some instances. One instance in particular is when I was teaching/subbing a high school art class. A different teacher came into the room as I was starting to teach the class and asked the students “did the substitute teacher show up yet?” I just must have blended in because she didn’t see me until I raised my hand. I have been working very hard to cross over to becoming an equal and a professional amongst more seasoned teachers/professionals. It’s difficult because as a teacher you are expected to do 100% of your job on day one as if you had been doing this for 10 years. You are expected to be able to handle any and all situations right of the bat with little to no assistance. There is one day of New Teach Orientation/Training. But other than that, I cannot see myself doing anything else and the experiences have been extremely rewarding and fulfilling.

In the end, what I learned from this interview with Rachel is that teachers are underappreciated. The work that is expected of them right off the bat is unreal. But regardless of the high expectations, what motivates and engages her to keep going is getting to witness the “Ah Ha” moments when her students finally accomplish/learn what was being taught. Helping her students to grow and develop is something she said she wouldn’t give up for the world. Overall her passion is to help young people grow. So next time you see a teacher think about all the hard work they put into helping education others and thank them!

Photo Credit: All photos were provided by and approved for use by Rachel Besand

Hands on Training for Adult Learners

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It is true that “everyone you will ever meet knows something you don’t”- Bill Nye. It is important for people to continue to learn, grow, and develop moving into the future. People constantly learn and grow each day whether they are aware of it or not, through life experiences, classrooms, conferences, seminars, webinars, etc. Many people have dedicated their lives to learning & education. It is imperative that when new things are discovered and developed that we are able to pass down & transfer that knowledge to the many. That is why training and development is such an important pillar for each company.

Andragogy is the discipline that studies how adults learn. It is based on five assumptions (Self-Concept, Experience, Readiness to learn, Orientation to learning, and Motivation to learn). When working in training it is very important that you get your audience in the right mindset. An individual must be both willing to learn and have the ability to achieve the learning objectives. If employees are required to attend a training program and they already have a strong understanding of the topic, then they will have no motivation to attend and learning will most likely not occur. Additionally if an individual is required to attend a training program on something new and innovative but has the perception that there will be no support for their new knowledge when they return, their learning will suffer as well. I guess the point I am trying to make with all of this is that as a trainer you have to understand your audience, their existing knowledge, and what you can do to help them.

As a trainer you are going to face barriers and obstacles. Some people have a low tolerance for change, some have a lack of trust in the information, some people are influenced by peer pressure and what their co-workers or colleagues are discussing on the topic. So, it is important that you address these barriers early on in the training. This is why you must work hard to get your audience in the right mindset to learn and absorb the information you are trying to transfer. You want your audience to understand that you are there to help them in a way that is conducive to their specific needs. It is also important for a trainer to understand the different learning styles: visual, auditory, and kinesthetic. Different people have different preferences and it is important that when working in training you use all three to help increase the retention of the information.

So in the end, you must be able to show your audience what is in it for them; how this training is going to help them be more successful in their role today! You need to earn their trust and build your credibility by demonstrating your understanding of their needs. You must also be wary not to treat your audience as ignorant on the subject matter, if they feel that you are condescending in your methods and approach to teaching then you have lost them and no learning will occur. Adults are tricky audiences to master, but once you have created that participative program that gives them hands on experience, then you have reached your goal as a trainer. What training challenges have you faced in your organization?

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Millennial Entrepreneur Spotlight- Nicholas Sawyer

Facebook-20150531-094458 (2)In my past blog posts I have provided many of my own opinions, as well as research I have read on how to “Recruit, Engage, and Retain” the Millennial Generation. So today I thought I would interview a Millennial that currently works for a family owned/run business. I wanted to find out what it is like to work as an entrepreneur.  The individual I chose to interview today is one I know to be very intelligent, dedicated, and business savvy. So I asked him the following questions:

  • Tell me about your family business & what services you provide?

Answer:   We are a small new and used retail business. We specialize in tools, construction, and equipment. Our inventory is about 70-80% new and used tools & equipment’s, as well as sporting goods and electronics. We focus mainly on selling to the male population. We purchase some of our goods wholesale and second hand. For the second hand products and for additional inventory we pursue estates and garage sales.

  • How long have you worked as an entrepreneur?

Answer:  My father purchased this business from my uncle in 2000, so I was about 13 years old when that happened. I have been working part-time for this business since I was 13 years old. After completing my Business Management Degree at the University of Nevada I saw the opportunity to continue to work and grow the business in hopes that one day I will take it over.

  • What attracted you to work for your family? Did you want to continue working for a family business or did you want to pursue a different career?

Answer: Growing up I was influenced by my father who was a very successful general contractor. He injured his back and could no longer work in that profession so he decided to pursue a full time career in retail. I have always enjoyed working with my father and admire him. I saw how successful he was with this business and that is what attracted me to work and pursue this career path. Other than trying to pursue a baseball career I never tried to pursue other career options.

  • What do you like most about working there?

AnswerI really enjoy all of the different responsibilities that range from sweeping the floors, to buying/dealing with wholesalers, running the cash register, to buying additional inventory from estates or garage sales. I love running a successful business. I also like having complete responsibility/autonomy over my work decisions. Essentially I enjoy being my own boss.

  • What is it like to be a Millennial helping to run your own business?

Answer: Because I have been working in this shop since I was 13 years old I have built up my network & established relationships throughout the town. When I was younger (high school) people would question my advice – asking what does this kid know about tools and equipment. But now that I have been working in this shop for 15+ years as well as earned my Business Degree people now regard me as an expert in my field. So I feel very confident in my knowledge and ability to run this business successfully.

Facebook-20150531-094633In the end what I learned from this interview with Nicholas is that having a passion, as well as understanding the work, is a key ingredient to a running a successful business. I have also learned that there are many perks to owning and running your own business- such as unlimited vacation, scheduling your own hours, etc. These perks however come at a great cost because more often than not it often takes a ton of commitment and dedication in order for it to pay off in the long run. Due to all the hard work put into this business by the Sawyer father & son team Nicholas is able to reap some of the benefits by being able to create his own schedule, and having the freedom & power to greatly influence/impact the business. Sounds great to me, how about you?

Photo Credit: All photos were provided by and approved for use by Nicholas Sawyer

Registered Nurse Millennial Spotlight- Jessica Hansen

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In my past blog posts I have provided many of my own opinions, as well as research I have read on how to “Recruit, Engage, and Retain” the Millennial Generation. So today I thought I would interview a Millennial that currently works as a Registered Nurse. I wanted to find out what it is like to work in such a highly regarded profession in the Healthcare Industry.  The individual I chose to interview today is one I know to be a very committed, caring, knowledgeable, and reliable person in her field. So I asked her the following questions:

  • What is your current job title? What company do you currently work for?

Answer:   My current title is Registered Nurse (RN) and I currently work for Renown Health on the Telemetry Unity (Cardiovascular Nursing)

  • How long have you worked as an RN?

Answer:   Almost two years now

  • What attracted you to work at the Hospital? How did you get started in this profession?

Answer: Growing up I have always had a passion for science, and pursuing a career in nursing I loved that I could apply my love for science in a way that could help people. So I decided to apply for Nursing school, upon completion of nursing school I decided that I wanted to utilize the knowledge that I gained in an environment that is challenging and up to date. From there I choose to specialize in Cardiovascular Nursing on the Telemetry Unit. My unit is fast paced and covers a broad spectrum of patient critical care.

  • What do you like most about working there?

AnswerI love the people that I work with the most. Additionally, I enjoy that every day is a new challenge that is never the same- I never have the same day twice. I also like that I have autonomy over my duties and responsibilities. I appreciate that I am trusted and respected enough to make important decisions affecting the care that I provide and my patient’s well-being.

  • What keeps you motivated & engaged in the workplace?

AnswerThe fact that I learn something new every day, and that although I am seeing someone’s worst moments I am constantly reminded of how wonderful it is to be human. What keeps me going each and every shift is knowing that I get to make a difference in someone’s life, and that sense of purpose drives me and motivates me each day.

  • Do you feel like you have opportunities to move up in this organization?

Answer: Yes- within Renown there are many opportunities to become more involved in different committees that allow you to directly affect the hospital and the community that it serves. There are also opportunities through what is called a Clinical Ladder- where you become more involved by doing research and then providing the finding of that research to the rest of the unit. By participating in this program you can help to improve and promote evidence based care and in turn be rewarded with a bonus. Additionally, there are many opportunities to be promoted into other nursing position throughout the hospital (and there are a multitude of different positions in different areas/specialties that nurses can hold)

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  • What is it like to be a Millennial working as an RN?

Answer: It’s very exciting because I am young and new in my career, but it’s also challenging in the sense that I have a lot of weight on my shoulders because I am responsible for people’s health and well-being. I think it’s exciting because Healthcare is changing a lot right now and I will get to witness and be involved in these changes. The only challenge I face in infrequent instances is patients concern with my level of experience and therefore my ability to provide sufficient care because of my youth. The way I overcome this obstacle is to share my knowledge with them so that it benefits them- for example how they are going to be successful when they leave the hospital. As well as, to always know your limits- never pretend to know something that you don’t know- and utilizing the resources/knowledge that is available to you.

In the end what I learned from this interview with Jessica is that she was able to align her love for science in a way that allows her to make a difference by saving people’s lives. She has a tremendous sense of purpose in serving her patients & her community that keeps her motivated and engaged. Additionally, she has many different opportunities and options for continued growth, development, and promotion. Overall this combination of purpose, opportunity, and constant challenge proves to be a conducive environment for the Jessica and those in the Millennial Generation. Helping people in some of their darkest moments is no easy task, in fact it is a very noble one. So the next time you come across a nurse please thank them for all that they do- because in reality they are the strong & forceful backbone of any healthcare organization.

Photo Credit: All photos were provided by and approved for use by Jessica Hansen

The Millennial Search for Self-Actualization

In the past months I have been interviewing Millennial’s in different industries and different occupations to find out what motivates and engages them. After interviewing a cop, a firefighter, and a military personnel; after interviewing someone in higher education, the food service industry, and a Baby Boomer working with a Millennial, I have learned an important lesson about how to engage & retain the millennial generation. It doesn’t matter what the size of the organization, Global, National, Local, or Non-Profit, it only matters that you provide a purpose- a vision that the employee can feel inspired by.

A sense of purpose provided by the job is what motivated each individual I spoke with. To know that the work they are doing is helping or affecting others is what this generation is looking for. The Millennial generation has been studied and examined closely because of the projected impact they will have on the work place. At a Northern Nevada Human Resources Association Diversity Seminar, some findings were presented in a very relatable way regarding generational needs. The speaker used Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs to discuss the different needs of each generation that currently makes up our work force today.

It starts with the Traditionalist Generation and how their needs related to the Safety & Security Needs on Maslow’s Pyramid. This generation, after surviving one of the worst depressions in history, wanted a stable job and stable income. Next we have the Baby Boom Generation, their needs are based on Love & Belonging in the work place. The Baby Boomers longed for an identity and usually got their identity from their workplace. They were a generation all about work. Moving on, we have Generation X, or also known as the latchkey kids. This generation was the early offspring of the Baby Boomer Generation. Because their parents were so busy working they were often left alone which created a very independent & DIY generation. That is why this generations needs aligns with Maslow’s Esteem Needs. They are a generations of Entrepreneurs that crave recognitions for their accomplishments. Lastly, we have the Millennial Generation, and as I said before this is a generation searching for Self-Actualization. We are a generation that wants to be happy, and that wants to give back.

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Once a leader, or a company understands the needs and wants of each generation, then they have the opportunity to build a strategy, (a strong mission, vision, value system), that can help create a better chance to recruit, engage, and retain their talented workforce. We all know that a company’s human capital (employees) is its most valuable asset, so the concept of putting employees first shouldn’t be a farfetched idea. Those companies that take the time to understand their employee’s wants and needs & then create a company culture to help fulfill those wants and needs are ones that are going to be around for many years to come. Can you relate to this generational pyramid of needs? What do you think?

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Higher Education- Millennial Spotlight- Zack Fourgis

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In my past blog posts I have provided many of my own opinions, as well as research I have read on how to “Recruit, Engage, and Retain” the Millennial Generation. So today I thought I would interview a Millennial that currently works in Higher Education, for the University of Nevada. I wanted to find out what it is like to work in this industry and what companies to do Recruit, Engage, and Retain Millennial workers.  The individual I chose to interview today attended this University and received his Bachelor’s Degree and is currently back working towards his Masters. I know him to be a very dedicated, spirited, and hardworking person. So I asked him the following questions:

  • What is your current job title? What company do you currently work for?

Answer:  I am an Accounting Assistant at the University of Nevada, Reno.  I work for the Extended Studies department at the Redfield campus in south Reno.

  • How long have you worked for the University of Nevada in higher education?

Answer:  I have worked for the University of Nevada for 6 years (4 as an undergrad and 2 as an alumni)

  • What attracted you to work at the University? How did you get started in this position?

Answer:  I have always loved working at the University during my time as an undergrad and after graduation I wanted to continue building a career there.  So when the opportunity presented itself I jumped on the first job that was available and I have enjoyed working there very much.  I plan on working for the University for a long time into the future, because of its great benefits and fun atmosphere.

  • What do you like most about working there?

Answer:  What I like most about working at the University of Nevada is that it has a very relaxed atmosphere and I work with a very cohesive team.  I have bonded and become friends with all my co-workers and we genuinely care for one another.  Additionally, I also really respect and look up to my boss. She is very helpful and has taught me so much about accounting at the University.  She is a really thoughtful leader and always asks how I am doing in life.  I like that feeling of teamwork that is entrenched in our work culture.

  • What keeps you motivated & engaged in the workplace?

Answer: I love that I am constantly learning new things and that there are always new problems to solve each day.  It keeps me on my toes, constantly challenged.

  • Do you feel like you have opportunities to move up in this organization?

Answer:  Yes definitely! Another thing I love about working in higher education is the easy opportunity to further my education. I am currently working on my MBA and the university culture promotes going back to further your education.  After graduating with my MBA I plan on trying to work my way up to upper management within the University.

  • What is it like to be a Millennial working in higher education?

Answer: When I started working at UNR I was by far the youngest employee in my department.  It was a big challenge at first to relate to my co-workers, but after short period of time I was able to relax, connect, and then felt very comfortable with my surroundings. After getting to know my team on a deeper level I learned that a good majority of my co-workers are afraid of technology! I believe it is just a generational thing.

In the end what I learned from this interview with Zack is that working in higher education can be a wonderful and long-standing career for those who have a passion to learn. Working for a wonderful place like the University of Nevada gives faculty, students and employees a great sense of pride. Those working to make sure the University runs smoothly understand that they are helping to shape young minds that can help build a brighter future for our community. Working in higher education provides many benefits and perks like free education, and opportunities to travel/learn. After interviewing Zack I can now understand why he looks forwards to a long and exciting career with the University of Nevada. To learn more about higher education read Zack’s Blog or follow him on Twitter @Zackfourgis

Photo Credit: All photos were provided by and approved for use by Zack Fourgis