It’s Ok if it Feels Like Work

I’ve been hearing more and more job seekers explain that it is time to make a change because their current position feels too much like work.  They want to be more excited and have fun on the job.  Unfortunately, it is called work for a reason.

While it is great to be passionate about the mission, to enjoy the people you work with and to be motivated and challenged by many aspects of your job, it is still a job.  I have been Director of the Graduate Career Center here at Northeastern’s D’Amore-McKim School of Business for more than eleven years.  I can honestly say that I love my job.  I enjoy working with the students and our employers.  I have a great team of professionals who make a difference for our students every day.  I don’t dread coming to the office but it is still work.  I work hard and sometimes there a very long days.  There are parts of the job that can be tedious or frustrating.  I do not always have the resources I would like to do everything I want to do but overall it is a great job.

There is an unrealistic expectation that work should be fun and that your colleagues should be your best friends.  Having been through a couple difficult mergers in my career which resulted in many people losing their jobs, the ones who had the most difficult time dealing with the changes were those who had no other interests or priorities in their lives.  It is important to enjoy time with families and friends.  It helps if you have hobbies, volunteer experiences or physical activities in your life.  That balance outside the job helps you keep perspective.

While it is ideal to believe in the mission of your company and to know that your work makes a difference, it is still work.   If it is not fulfilling all your needs, think about whether the job is truly the issue or whether it is a symptom of having the rest of your life a bit out of balance.


Millennials in the Workplace

The millennials are a growing presence in the workplace today and they represent a critical component of the company’s future success.  While it is important for managers to maximize the talents of this bright, capable generation, effectively motivating them will be critical to success.  Working with students to achieve their career goals, there are clearly some common themes in their expectations.

Let them Lead

They strive to be considered the leaders of the future and crave that leadership experience while acknowledging that they are likely not ready to manage people.  Put them in charge of projects.  They will reward you with their best efforts when they have an opportunity to lead.  They are energized by the opportunity to make a difference.  Start with smaller projects and as their success builds, increase the scope and complexity of the projects.  Challenge them by giving them these leadership opportunities.

Recognition Matters

The old “no news is good news” does not meet their needs.  The absence of feedback is not perceived as positive.  They crave regular feedback.  They truly want to do well but often need to understand just what that looks like in the workplace.  Regular meetings with their manager go a long way if regular feedback is included.  While they don’t all need trophies, they highly value public recognition for a job well done, extra time off, professional development or even more responsibility.  Professional development is very important – they crave opportunities to keep learning and improving.  Lack of opportunity to grow is commonly cited as the reason for leaving a company.

Seeing the Bigger Picture

They often grow frustrated if their focus is limited to the specific steps they need to do to accomplish their assignments.  They need to understand how what they are working on fits in the bigger picture.  Sometimes it is inviting them to observe a meeting or two to see where it all comes together.  Sometimes it is an intentional conversation with their manager to understand the full end to end process and how what they are working on makes a difference for the company.  They will still do the same work but they will be much more motivated and engaged if they understand how their work impacts the bigger picture.

Collaboration is Valued

They have worked in teams at school and are energized by the process of group think.  They are accustomed to working together to accomplish a shared goal.  Giving them opportunities to collaborate increases their satisfaction with the work they are doing.

Work Life Balance Matters

Most of them don’t have families yet but they do have lives outside of work and maintaining a healthy balance between work and life is very important.  Many of them were strongly influenced by parents who worked long hours and made significant sacrifices for their careers.  They highly value flexibility in their schedules, time off, the opportunity to telecommute occasionally, etc.  They expect to leverage the technology to get the work done without a rigid schedule about time or place.

This is a talented generation of workers and they represent the future leadership of business.  Helping to effectively motivate them early in their careers will build loyalty to their employers.  But, they do not have an abundance of patience.  They want to be successful but if they fail to see the opportunities for growth, they are not hesitant to move on to find those opportunities.