Posts Tagged ‘leadership’

5 True Tales of Gen Y’s Parents Calling Bosses

July 02nd, 2015

Hi All!

By now, most people have heard the term, “Helicopter Parents”. You know, the Boomer parents of the Millennial (aka: Gen Y) Generation who have hovered over their kids since birth, guiding them through childhood, into college…and now following their “adult” children into the professional workforce.

What??? You weren’t aware of how prevalent this hyper-parenting phenomenon truly was? Oh, trust me, it’s a BIG deal (and issue) for many Bosses and companies. Some companies are even starting to add “do’s and don’ts” policies in Employee Handbooks for the PARENTS! I’ll explain why in a bit.Boss-Phone

And, just to be clear, I’m referring to employees who are in their 20’s, in corporate environments; not parents calling work on behalf of their teenager who has a summer job at the local mall.

Let me put this into perspective from my own first-hand experience: In my SEVEN YEARS of being a keynote speaker and conducting workshops for companies about how to better recruit, manage and retain Millennial talent, I’ve yet to ask this question and NOT get a hand raised: “Who here has heard from the parent of one of your Millennial employees?”

EVEN if it’s a small private session for a corporate Management Team (versus an audience of 500+), I always get at least 1-2 hands raised. Always.

This recently happened again at a presentation I conducted for Executives at an annual automotive industry conference last week. Six attendees out of 75+ raised their hands when I asked that question, and (as usual) I asked one of them to share why the parent called. I’ll share that story in a moment, so please keep reading.

The reason I always ask at least one person to share “why” the parent called is not only because I find it fascinating, but the answers always result in an outburst of laughter, mixed with shock & disbelief, from my audiences. Plus, I also ask why so that other attendees who (may) think “there’s no way parents call”, quickly realize I’m not making this stuff up.

Based on this new phenomenon in today’s modern workforce, I decided it was time to share some of these stories to illustrate how common this is. I’ve got hundreds of these real-world stories, but here are five. Each of them was shared at different speaking engagements I’ve conducted; all from different industries, located in different regions, and of different sizes, throughout the U.S. and Canada.

IMPORTANT: In the countless stories I’ve heard, sometimes the Millennial employees were aware their parents were calling, and sometimes not. So I do NOT want to imply the Millennials always ask their parents to do these things. Oftentimes, the Helicopter Parents do it on their own, and I’ve spoken to many Millennials who said they were mortified when they found out.

TRUE TALE #1: The Sr. Vice President mentioned previously at the recent automotive conference shared that she received a call from the father of one of her (26 years-old) Millennial employees. Dad called her to say he didn’t think his daughter’s private parking spot was located in a safe place for women so he requested that she be given a different one.

TRUE TALE #2: The CEO of a medium-sized company shared that he wanted to hold-off on promoting one of his Millennial employees because the employee (24 years-old) simply needed about six more months of training and on-the-ground experience. The next day the employee arrived at work with her Mom. They requested to see the CEO immediately and he obliged. Once in his office, Mom proceeded to pull out a long list that she and her husband had created the night before which outlined all the reasons why THEY thought their daughter WAS qualified to receive the promotion now…not in six months.

TRUE TALE #3: This does not pertain to someone’s “current” Millennial employee, but it’s another good example. The Sr. Director of HR at a Fortune 500 company attended my presentation for their Executive Team. Three days later she sent me an email to share that that morning she received a phone call from the Mom of a college senior. The Mom called her to inquire about internships the company had that her daughter could apply for. Mom explained she was calling companies on behalf of her daughter because her daughter was too busy at school studying for finals and being on the school’s swim team.

TRUE TALE #4: The Marketing Manager at a Fortune 1000 company shared at one of my presentations that a Dad called him, very upset. Dad said that his son (25 years-old) didn’t feel like he got enough time to share his ideas at the weekly department meetings. Dad asked the Manager to either make the weekly meeting longer OR call on his son more often.

TRUE TALE #5: The Director of Learning and Development at a large company had this to share with me and the audience: He had just hired a new Millennial employee (26 years-old) and during the on-boarding process the Millennial was given the standard Employee Benefits Package to review. Apparently, the Millennial had her parents review it because the next day Mom called her daughter’s new Boss to say that she (Mom), and Dad, had some questions about the benefits information.

I’m sharing these examples because, aside from being somewhat humorous, this topic is important for employers to be aware of. Why? Because if someone at work receives a call from a Helicopter Parent inquiring about things like promotions and raises their adult child didn’t get, and the Manager (caught off guard) engages in a conversation with the parent, it could cause serious legal issues for that Manager AND the employer.

The bottom line is that Bosses cannot discuss sensitive matters about employees (who are over 18 years- old) with the employee’s parents. Therefore, as an expert on Millennials and generational dynamics, I strongly suggest that this info quickly be shared with your Management and Leadership Teams.

By 2025, 75% of the workforce will be Millennials. That means the number of Helicopter Parents calling employers is only going to increase!

5 Steps to Managing Difficult Employees

March 23rd, 2014

Hi All!

In all the seminars and workshops training I conduct for Managers and Leadership Teams, I find that a majority of them struggle with managing difficult employees. And, regardless of their experience level, or age (Boomers, Gen X or Gen Y), I see two common ways many of them handle challenging employees: poorly or not at all…neither of which are effective!

But in a leadership role where you’re responsible for managing others, how you manage a difficult employee is critical. Why? Because undoubtedly you are forced to spend a disproportionate amount of resources, time, and energy on them, and this can cause frustrations and tempers to arise, productivity to decrease, morale to go down, retention of good talent to plummet, and your other team members (and possibly, customers) to become disgruntled.

What Can You Do? A Simple 5-Step Process:

1. Do Not Ignore the Problem

A small problem has the potential to turn big, so pay attention to red flags when you first see them. If you notice that an employee is exhibiting bad behavior, it’s time to take immediate action. The longer you wait, the worse it will get! Sticking your head in the sand will normally not make the issue magically disappear…and you’ll be faced with employees, and possibly your boss, wondering why you’re not taking charge of the situation.

2. Identify the Cause

Understanding the real motivation for their behavior unlocks your power to take the right steps to address the underlying cause. You have to find out WHY they are being difficult. Do they dislike their job? Are they having personal problems outside of work? Are they having issues with a co-worker you may not be aware of, such as a bully who is making them miserable? You cannot begin to determine solutions and a course of action if you don’t know “why” their poor behavior is occurring.

3. Provide a Comfortable Environment

Talk to your employee in a comfortable, non-threatening, environment that can enable them to disclose the reason for their behavior. Don’t forget to tell them that you’re there to help them, make their work life better, and help them be successful. Remember, your main goal behind this process is to uncover valuable information, so your communication should not be confrontational. Prepare your feedback ahead of time, ask questions, let the conversation flow, stay engaged, and listen closely. And once you’ve gathered the insights from your employee, you can then begin to determine a plan to resolve the issue(s).

4. Develop a Solution

When handling difficult employees, it is important for Managers to identify the problem and suggest a solution; not demonize them. Your goal should be to develop a plan which not only reflects your agenda, but also incorporates their perspective. If you need time to come up with a plan after you have your “fact gathering session” with them, take it. However, if you feel comfortable and prepared to discuss solutions right away, do so. Either way, make their input part of the plan to work together so that you get their (enthusiastic) buy-in. Just because you think your plan of action for them is great, doesn’t mean it can actually work. The objectives and goals that you establish have to be ones they can accomplish, and ones that they are very clear on.

5. Monitor and Provide On-going Effective Feedback

Once your plan has been mutually agreed upon, actively monitor their progress and provide them with regular, specific, effective feedback. Many Managers express their grievances and expect the employee to drastically change their behavior without any on-going guidance. That type of management style FAILS most of the time. Just like dieting, people tend to be way more successful when they have on-going guidance, feedback, encouragement, and support.

In closing…

As a Manager, if you do not take the appropriate steps to handling difficult employees, you are doing a huge disservice to yourself, your career, your company, as well as to your other employees who are working hard towards the success of the department and organization. You need to improve the retention of your top employees; not frustrate them to the point of leaving.

Can all difficult employees be “turned around”? Of course not! But by helping them determine why they are having issues at work can also help you both determine if this job, or company, simply isn’t the right fit for them. If that IS the case, typically there’s nothing you can do to shift their behavior. They need to move on to a job where they’ll be happier…and that’s a win/win outcome for both of you!

Stress at Work is the New Health Epidemic Amongst Generations

December 11th, 2013

Hi All!

Dubbed the “health epidemic of the 21st century” by the World Health Organization, stress at work is increasingly being seen as a costly issue, thus stress management is becoming one of the most important challenges for employers across the globe. And employees, from all generations, are struggling due to stress. In the U.S. alone, 3 out of 4 workers describe their work as stressful!

A few of the key factors that cause stress for employees include: Firings, cost-cutting, business readjustments, working in an uncomfortable environment, unclear supervision, trouble with the boss, changes in financial status, altered responsibilities, variations in work hours, changed work conditions and office procedures, and transitioning to a different line of work.

However, work-family conflicts are increasingly common, especially with the growing issue of Baby Boomers being “caught in the middle” as The Sandwich Generation. They are now not only caring for their own Gen Y (aka: Millennial) children but also having to be caregivers for their elderly Veteran Generation parents…all while having to maintain a full-time job in the workforce!

The financial, emotional, and physical stress of this dilemma on the Boomers is staggering, and it’s going to continue to grow in severity. So employers are going to have to manage and support it…quickly.

Smart companies are addressing stress in the workplace because it makes good business sense; employee stress-related issues are costing employers around the globe a fortune. Here’s just a few fast facts (out of many on this topic) to illustrate this:

  1. According to a study in the UK, 20% of employees experience work-related distress on an average day, which amounts to 40% of sick days.
  2. On average, American businesses suffer annual losses worth $300 billion, with each employee contributing $2,000 to the losses, in lower productivity, absenteeism, staff turnover, medical insurance, workers compensation, among other stress-related expenses.
  3. 60% of lost workdays each year are attributed to stress.
  4. Only 29% of employees are able to operate at peak productivity levels due to stress.

Based on those stats, it is crucial for employers to take earnest steps to deal with the problem and help employees cope with occupational stress.

Organizations looking to compete in a volatile marketplace are proactively making efforts to address the issue seriously. Examples include:

  • Analyzing the situation to find the root cause of the workforce stress and developing solutions to reduce the issue, such as: educating employees on work life balance, offering telecommuting opportunities, and providing flexible work weeks.
  • Leveraging employee assistance programs, which may include individual counseling, interpersonal skill development, team building, and organizational consulting on change management.
  • Encouraging employees to take responsibility for their health and motivating and supporting them to do so.
  • Requiring staff to do self-assessments in order to find out how they are feeling and asking them to identify factors they think might be contributing to pressure or stress. By getting feedback from staff and responding with a customized plan for each person can be very effective.
  • Taking steps to improve the company’s marketing approach to raise managers’ awareness of the employee benefit programs, such as: online wellness workshops, employee assistance programs, online seminars on issues of workplace stress, and mindfulness training.
  • Communicating regularly with employees to reduce uncertainty in their minds about job security. An employer, and its Leadership and Management Team, should ensure that communication with employees is friendly, motivating, and supportive, giving an equal opportunity to the latter to make themselves heard. It is the employer’s responsibility to show employees that they are valued to the organization. Rewarding workers is a good way to recognize their performance and reinforces their sense of worth to the company.
  • Reducing environmental stress, such as uplifting the workplace by improving air flow, natural lighting, reducing noise pollution, and providing quiet rooms for rejuvenation, can also help improve employee focus and attention, thus reducing their occupational stress.

By focusing on individual stress management and organizational change, businesses can produce more productive, healthier, happier, and motivated employees. But employers have to make it a priority and foster a corporate culture that truly embraces health and wellness in their workplace…not just “say” they do!

27 Ways to Prepare Gen Y Employees for Leadership Roles

May 18th, 2011

Hi All!

Why do smart companies, large and small, spend so much time seeking ways to retain Millennials (a.k.a. Gen Y) and groom them for leadership? It’s truly boils down to basic math.

According to the Employment Policy Foundation (EPF), our country is at the beginning of a labor shortage of approximately 35 million skilled and educated workers, which is estimated to continue over the next two decades – especially now that Baby Boomers are starting to retire at an estimated rate of 1 every 8 seconds.

Out of necessity, Millennials – many of whom may only have one to three years of career experience – are moving into management roles much sooner (and younger!) than the generations before them did – and are expected to perform in these roles successfully. That’s why many companies also hire me to conduct my leadership training workshops and seminars for their Gen Y workforce!

Based on these facts, invited me to write a 3-part series addressing this topic to help employers better retain and groom their Millennial talent for leadership.

And, they also decided to run a contest where you can win a copy of either of my books, Millennials into Leadership or Millennials Incorporated!

All you have to do is submit a 1-2 sentence answer to this question: “What advice do you have for working with Millennials?”  (submit to in the comments section of the third article below).

Ten (10) lucky winners will be drawn at random by! But their contest ends tomorrow, May 20th, so submit your answer today. Click here for entry info!

To read my 3-part series, simply click on the links below:

Part One: Six Ways to Retain Your Gen Y Employees

Part Two: 9 Ways to Teach Gen Y Employees a Leadership Mindset

Part Three: 12 Problem Solving Tips to Teach Your Gen Y Future Leaders 

And many thanks to Mary Lorenz, staff writer at and manager of CareerBuilder’s popular blog, Mary is who contacted me about writing for them. Thank you, Mary, for your interest and support! 

Bye for now,


The Top 10 Leadership Books All Gen Y Employees Should Read

January 31st, 2011

Hi All!

I conduct various seminars and workshops on Leadership and Personal Leadership Branding for Millennials (Gen Y) employees and college students, and one of the things I tell them is to “feed your brain”. That is a key trait of effective leaders regardless of how high up the ladder they are in their careers…they never stop learning to be better.

Along with that advice, I’m also asked,”What books on leadership should I read?” Obviously, I can’t resist recommending mine, “Millennials into Leadership”. I would be crazy not to!!

But here are some of the other (wink) top books on leadership that I think Millennials, and all other generations at work, should read to learn and nurture their leadership and management skills. Quick side note: Just because you’ve been given a leadership role, doesn’t mean you’re good at it! Some people are born leaders, but MOST everyone else needs training. That’s why organizations hire me to conduct leadership seminars for their Millennial employees!

Okay, back to the list…this article was in and written by Andrea Useem, and the list was created by Jack Covert and Todd Sattersten, who run the business book publisher and website 800 CEO Read. And based on their research, this is what they chose as the 10 best leadership books.


…and how did they choose them? “We had three litmus tests,” Sattersten told me in a phone interview. “Was the book accessible and well written? Are its lessons applicable today? And, third, would we apply the insights in our own business?”

1. On Becoming a Leader, by Warren Bennis

2. The Leadership Moment, by Michael Useem

3. The Leadership Challenge, by Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner (NOTE: Recommended by one panelist as the FIRST book on leadership you should read)

4. Control Your Destiny or Someone Else Will, by Noel Tichy and Stratford Sherman

The other books on their list are:
Leadership is an Art, by Max De Pree
The Radical Leap, by Steve Farber
Leading Change, by John Kotter
Questions of Character, by Joe Badaracco
The Story Factor, by Annette Simmons, and
Never Give In! Speeches by Winston Churchill

So there you have it! Choose a few, or all, and get reading! Your employees and employers will thank you!

Bye for now,


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