How to engage your “entitled” millennial employee

Think Shift-Balaji Krishnamurthy
Think Shift-Balaji Krishnamurthy

Photo by The Next Web

If you don’t have any millennial employees today, you will soon.
Born between the early 1980s and the early 2000s, millennials will comprise the bulk of the workforce in 20 years. As a generation, millennials are accused of wanting everything given to them, which, some believe, has been.
They feel entitled to get a degree in a discipline with few employment opportunities, hang out in their parents’ basement, work as a barista at the local Starbucks, and post to Instagram from their iPhones, which are covered by their families’ plans. As Catherine Rampell of The Washington Post writes, “To some, this arrested development is evidence of a prolonged adolescence and a rejection of self-sufficiency, perhaps encouraged by indulgent helicopter parenting.”
The Great and Silent generations that have retired from the workforce found a loyal employer to whom they gave their working life. For these “one-company” professionals, engagement was essential.
The Baby Boomers and the Gen Xers realized there was no guaranteed employment; they had to guarantee employability for themselves. So, they devoted their working life to a career, albeit with different employers. For these “one-career” professionals, it was in their interest to be engaged and get the most from the job.
The millennials seem to centre their choices on a particular lifestyle. They choose a lifestyle and construct the necessary underpinnings of work, family, relationships, etc. to support it. Engagement in the job? Only to the extent that it supports my lifestyle!
In the “one-company” view of the world, employers could invoke John F. Kennedy’s language and encourage workers to “Ask not what your company can do for you, ask what you can do for your company.”
That rallying approach even worked in 1980 at Chrysler when Lee Iacocca returned from Washington with a loan to save the company, and as recently as 1995 when Lou Gerstner made a similar appeal to save “the greatest computer company in the world,” IBM. Can you imagine making that appeal today? How would your employees respond?
A culture of loyalty encourages going over and above the call of duty when the company needs you.
All cultural benefits have a shadow side weakness. In the case of loyalty, it can be entitlement. The employee argues that if he or she is expected to do something for the company when the company needs it, shouldn’t the employee expect the company to be there when he or she needs it? This sense of entitlement permeates loyalty-based cultures. When millennials enter into such an environment, they are more likely to grasp one side of the equation and not the other.
Why do the millennials not give as much?
Are they just takers? Not really. In fact, some say the millennials actually believe that they can “do well by doing good.” They were raised in a generation where doing good – good for people, good for the environment, good for the disadvantaged, good for different races, etc. – was in vogue. Their apathy toward corporate America stems from a different source.
Millennials entered the workforce just as the market crashed in 2008.
The recovery never trickled down to them. They don’t believe it ever will. Millennials have different utility associated with different resources. So, their utilitarian economics, if we may call it that, is very different from previous generations.
Whereas the previous generations were willing to readily give of their time in exchange for money, millennials find a very different balance in that equation. Whereas the previous generations had a lower discount factor for time value of money, millennials put less trust in long-term investments, and hence apply a high discount factor.
Whereas the previous generations respected their predecessors for their knowledge and experience even if telling them to modernize, millennials know that the non-digital previous generations are dinosaurs from whom they have little to learn. Finally, the millennials saw how their parents worked hard only to get nowhere, and the time they put in was just not worth it.
The millennials aren’t going to do that.
So how do you engage millenials?
You understand their lifestyle! Then attempt to not only see, but to advocate on behalf of, their point of view.
Dr. Balaji Krishnamurthy, chairman of Think Shift, is a veteran executive with more than 30 years of corporate experience. Time Magazine recognized him as one of 25 Global Business Influentials, and publications such as the Wall Street Journal have featured Balaji and his innovative concepts as representing a new genre of corporate leadership. Known for his innovative and thought-provoking ideas, Balaji works with CEOs to develop organic leadership through an intentional corporate culture.

Local lingerie maker teaches body love

By Brenlee Coates (photo by Janine Kropla)

Alesha Frederickson was struggling to find a place for herself in the fashion world when she first completed her studies at Blanche MacDonald Centre in Vancouver.
It was a trailblazer in the local fashion scene, Jill Sawatzky of Tony Chestnut, who helped her find her way.
“She wasn’t a schmoozy boozy fashion person, ‘cause I think that was pulling me away,” remembers Alesha.
“And she was like, ‘No, you don’t have to be. You just kind of do what you do.’”
While Jill helped initiate her into more of a “makers” scene, Alesha still hadn’t really found her medium yet. She knew she didn’t like the high fashion thing, but she didn’t necessarily want to make her living churning out bridesmaid dresses to order either.
“Then one day I started making underwear, and I just loved it,” says the designer of March & August underthings. “Something just clicked.”
The discreet nature of the items might appeal to her modesty – “Someone could be sitting beside me and wearing it, and I wouldn’t know,” she muses – but the response she’s gotten from the wearers is what’s really driving her.

Alesha Frederickson, the one-woman force behind March & August underthings.
Alesha Frederickson, the one-woman force behind March & August underthings.

While boudoir shots might generally be reserved for that special someone’s eyes only, Alesha finds herself accumulating photos of customers who feel comfortable in their skin while draped in March & August. Several have even given her permission to share the revealing photos on social media.
“Usually right in the morning I get them in my emails, and I just bawl,” says Alesha. “People have told me they don’t feel comfortable in lingerie, and then they’re the ones sending me a picture of them just workin’ it.”
Keep it cozy and personal
What might be drawing the unusual reaction to Alesha’s designs is she’s all about the wearer. The underthings are a purchase that the wearer is meant to enjoy – not a costume to put on or gift to wrap yourself in for a partner.
Comfort is also key to Alesha’s design sensibilities – she uses soft fabrics and has skipped out on underwire and push-up padding to date, making the sexy designs cozy and wearable.
Her motto: if you feel comfortable and sexy, and you want to share that with someone, great. And the designs can fill different needs for different people. “I like that it’s a personal thing for everyone,” she says.
While customary lingerie would have you believe the ideals of comfort and sex appeal are mutually-exclusive, Alesha’s empowered customers show it’s possible to possess both.

Alesha has a group of devotees for her pieces. Photo by Janine Kropla.
Alesha has a group of devotees for her pieces. Photo by Janine Kropla.

Love the body you have
March & August’s tagline, “Love the body you have,” is a genuine invitation to access her designs. She encourages all different strokes to don her items and consciously considers various body types as she dreams up designs. “I hate the word ‘normal’ and I hate the word ‘real,’” explains Alesha. “The same piece (can be) translated in different ways.”
Her social media posts showcase people of all genders, shapes and sizes rocking the underthings, and she builds most pieces to measurement for customers, so the underwear hugs the wearers in all the right places. “At the end of the day, I’m just drawing a new line,” concedes Alesha, of the alterations. (Custom-fit is another aspect that makes for happy wearers.)

Alesha builds most pieces to measurement for her customers.
Alesha builds most pieces to measurement for her customers.

The theme of different bodies and purposes is what inspired the name, March & August. She and her sister’s birth months reminded her how distinctive people are, how contrasting the seasons are, and how they all bring something to the table. And opposing factors don’t have to exist separately; you don’t have to choose between one or the other, you can be both comfortable and sexy. “A little bit more March one day, a bit more August another,” she says.
Now that Alesha knows Winnipeggers are happy to shed their layers for the camera in her underthings, she plans to incorporate a whole host of beautiful bodies in photoshoots when she rolls out her lines.
After a hectic Christmas season, Alesha is beginning preparations to make March & August her full-time gig. She hopes to move into a studio space (right now, she’s seized a section of her home), and to mobilize a small team to work with.
The one-woman team currently prepares most pieces to order, though some items are available at Edward Carriere on Spence Street.
While she safely estimates a launch date in April for the upcoming spring/summer line of March & August, her plan going forward is to have launches coincide with the brand. “As cheesy as it is, I would like to do it in March and August.”
Custom-sized orders can be placed at Follow @marchandaugust on Instagram to keep updated on the new spring/summer line of underthings.

Finding a mentor – and why they’re all the rage

The Corporate Climb-Laura Wittig
The Corporate Climb – Laura Wittig

Photo by Beibei Lu

Throughout my education, I often heard the word “mentor” being tossed around. Having a mentor was the thing to do. I understood the term: to my knowledge, a mentor was a super cool human being who you could look up to and draw inspiration from. They were someone that has “been there, done that” – and did a darn good job of doing “that” too, whatever “that” may be to you.
They were someone whose brain you could pick, to whom you could run your top-secret ideas by and divulge your greatest passions – as well as your deepest darkest secrets, successes, and failures. Essentially, a mentor sounded like a fun, successful new bestie (perhaps sans manicures and wine). All that was left for me was to go out and find this amazing superhuman who wanted to embark on this mentor/mentee relationship with me. Sounds pretty simple, right?
Could I not just start handing out the applications? There should be tons of people eager to start help shaping this young mind. This, folks, is where reality kicked in. Although the concept of having a mentor seemed simple, fun – perhaps even trendy – it’s not quite so easily achievable. Here are a few things I learned upon entering the mentor matchmaking scene.
1. You must have a mutual interest and passion. Finding a mentor isn’t quite as easy as business school made it sound. It requires a great deal more work that typing out an email with the subject line, “Mentor Me?”
In order to have someone want to invest time and passion in you, you have to first show your own passion. Keep in mind that this person will be investing a lot of their resources in you, out of simply the goodness of their heart and their desire to see you succeed. Maybe they see themselves in you, or maybe they share the same values and ambitions.
Whatever it is, they have decided that you are worth their own very precious time, so don’t let them down. When you schedule time with them, don’t be late, and never waste their time. Come full of questions, but also let them talk and tell their story. It is amazing how much you can learn from not only somebody’s professional experience, but even more so from their life experience.
2. It will happen naturally. Finding a mentor should be organic. Don’t ask someone to be your mentor for the sake of having a mentor. It is said that often your mentor will find you, which makes perfect sense. Your mentor could be someone from your same company or in the same industry. You will run into them at events that will emphasize your shared interests.
If you are passionate about a particular cause, maybe you will find them heading a board that you have just started to volunteer on. If you find yourself instantly impressed by somebody, do your due diligence and learn more about their story. Didn’t instantly hit it off and book a lunch date? Don’t be afraid to contact them – but be professional and know your stuff, explaining that you are new to your industry, career, or whatever it may be, and that you would love to have the opportunity to take them for coffee or lunch to pick their brain.
After your “first date,” it will usually be clear to both parties if it is a relationship that is worth pursuing, so make sure to put your best foot forward.
3. It comes full circle. What? Me? A mentor? When I was approached by a younger student with some questions about my path, I was shocked. What could someone possibly learn from me?! Then I realized that she was me… six or seven years ago. While I was silently smiling and nodding at the then buzzword “mentor” in first-year university, this young student was way ahead of where I was then.
She was reaching out to people and asking them how they got to where they are today; strategically trying to figure out her next life steps. Although you may not have all the experience in the world, you have been there and done that when it comes to certain things. Sharing your story on how you made it through school (one venti latte at a time), graduated with honours, and now have started this incredible career might be somebody’s own dream. Don’t sell yourself short, and if you see someone who you think shows a lot of promise, invest in her future as well. You never know what you may have to offer one another.
4. Luck goes both ways. While the concept of finding a mentor may seem intimidating, there is no better way to learn than from somebody’s own personal real-life successes and failures. They are giving you an incredible gift by allowing you to learn from their wealth of experience and knowledge, so make sure you take advantage of this opportunity. Connecting with a mentor can also open up a large portion of their own network to you… and you know what they say: two networks are better than one!
Athena Leadership is a Manitoba-based, non-profit organization dedicated to advancing young women in leadership. Laura Wittig currently serves on the Board of Directors as the Director of Communications. She is a proponent of helping other women advance in their careers, and seeks to share her perspective on how we can always keep learning personally and professionally.

How the media almost lost us a key Winnipeg development

By Dorothy Dobbie (photo courtesy of True North Sports & Entertainment Ltd.)

I am a huge fan of Mark Chipman for his courage in stepping up to the plate for the Winnipeg Jets, and for what he has done to support downtown Winnipeg.
I have worked with, admire, and consider Curt Vossen a friend, and know that he genuinely cares about what happens to this city.
I have worked with Ross McGowan and respect his creative deal-making genius and consider that he was a fantastic get-it-done guy for CentreVenture Corp.
And I respect and support Brian Bowman as mayor because I personally know his courage and I believe in his passion for doing things right at City Hall and making good things happen for Winnipeg.
For the past month these four people – great guys that I admire, respect and enjoy – have been at very public loggerheads. How did this happen? They are all white hats and very sincere. They should be each other’s best friends.
Answer: the media
Unfortunately, the local media has had a huge part to play in stirring the pot, creating dissension and “dragging this thing though the mud.” The motivations vary from personal to political, but the sad thing is, this media frenzy hurts us all and it really hurt the four proponents on a very personal level.
I carefully read and listened to everything that was reported. What I heard reported as fact was often very different from what I heard actually being said. Words were taken out of context, comments were spun in a twisted way; it was made to look as though the Mayor was calling the integrity of the other guys into question, when what I heard was his concern about the optics and the process.
And when the issue about process was being made, I heard reporters deliberately steer the topic back to personal vendetta issues.
Here were three very media un-savvy guys – Bowman, Chipman and Vossen – being manipulated by some pretty experienced and somewhat cynical people.
I have reason to know how this works; a mike is shoved in your face and you are asked the “When-did-you-stop-beating-your-wife?” kind of question that you can’t answer without a denial, which makes you look guilty.
The other trick they use is to lob a question at you that leads to a specific answer – maybe the topic isn’t even in play, but no matter how you respond, the question puts words in your mouth.
Or they will quote an out-of-context comment from the opposing side that is designed to elicit an angry reaction.
By the way, not everyone in the media agrees with these tactics and some of them have shared their concerns with me. They also underlined the personal context that shaped much of the reporting in this case.

Advice to the Mayor and the businessmen
If something such as this ever comes up again, guys, here’s what should happen.
You need to call together a closed-door meeting. Yes, sometimes you do have to meet behind closed doors to clear the air and get things done. Twenty minutes of straight talk between you would have sorted this out.
What should not have happened was the continued rising to the media bait, which only escalated the miscommunication and hard feelings that were put into play. It’s time now to put aside all this crap (I use the word advisedly), and move forward.
Mark, you aren’t going to pull the True North Square project. Brian, you have to be pragmatic about the need sometimes to find creative ways that are not bruited about in the media. And Curt, CentreVenture needs to continue to do the exciting and creative things that have been making a real difference in our downtown. We need the leadership of all three of you and we need you all to be in sync.

Being a mom can make you better at your other job

By Ada Slivinski (photo by Marcio Ramalho)

Do an Internet search of “how having kids can benefit your career,” and the top results are all focused on men. Fathers are paid more than childless men – the break and stress-relief children provide seems to stimulate their brains into thinking about work problems in new ways, and thus often leads to promotions and new opportunities.
But for mothers, the popular narrative is quite the opposite. The bookstores and Internet discussion boards are full of cautious tales about why mothers who work outside the home can’t “have it all.” Pregnant women are often told their work will take a hit with all the responsibilities of being a parent. But what’s often overlooked is that parenthood can actually affect work life for mothers in the same positive ways it does for men if we know how to take advantage of the opportunity.
When I found out I was pregnant with my daughter, I was about to move across the country for a fantastic new job. I certainly remember people telling me that a baby would be a significant career roadblock. I can say that it certainly was a challenge to learn the ropes at a new place while struggling with morning sickness and running out for midwife appointments, but it also helped me connect with my new coworkers and interview subjects on a deeper level.
As a reporter, I have to ask tough questions that often put politicians and other decision-makers on the spot. I was surprised at how many times my growing belly provided the perfect ice-breaker, putting those I was grilling more at ease and thus leading to a better interview. Now that I have a two-year-old, sharing stories about potty training or hilariously misspoken words has the same effect.
Many other mothers who I’ve spoken with who work outside the home tell me they too were surprised at how their career benefited from the new role of parenthood.
Time management. One of the things mothers talk about is how they become better able to manage their time. A new mother, columnist, and lawyer friend of mine puts it this way, “I don’t have the luxury of saying to myself that I will finish something later. Who knows when later is!” Many parents also say they don’t want to bring work home with them, because that’s the time they have to spend with their children, so they learn to work smarter during the day and get things done at the office.
Patience and acceptance. Though being a parent can be extremely draining on your patience at times, it can teach you to be more patient and understanding at work, which can be a huge bonus when working with clients or a team. Having children also helps to put work into perspective. “No emergency at the office can compare to having a child with a life-threatening injury in the hospital,” a publisher with two boys recently told me.
Downtime better spent. It is also a great stress-reliever: a little kid running into your arms after a tough day at work immediately makes those office problems fade away. For many parents who choose to continue with a career after kids, having children motivates them at work – they want to provide for their kids so they may be more confident asking for a raise or a promotion, or further their education because they want to be a good role model. As gender roles shift and mothers are no longer the sole caregivers and homemakers, we can apply all we learn in our new role as parents to our work as well and see the benefits – just like men.