Category Archives: General

Are Millennials a Drawback or an Advantage?

Businesses are continually adapting to new technology. So, why not adapt to new generations of workers?

However, before I go into further deliberation on this question, I’ll provide brief descriptions on the generational workers one may find in the workplace today.

Millennials: Adults under 30 in the year 2011. Notable characteristics include goal oriented and proficient at multi-tasking.

Generation X: Age 30 to 50. They’re distinguished by their self-reliance and their concern for workplace rights and work skills.

Baby Boomers:  Age 51to 68. This age group is predominantly characterized in the workplace as workaholics and they view that employment is for life.

As I continue with my college education, my professors frequently express that finding a job following graduation will be challenging.  My job search will not only be difficult because of the current state of the economy, but also because I am of the generation of workers referred to as Millennials.  Millennials present new challenges to companies because of their key differences that differentiate them from senior employees classified as Generation X and Baby Boomers.  While I tried to deny that the studies my professors referred to only stereotype my generation, I admit my inclination was I encompass many of the characteristics detailed in the studies.

Soon, Millennials will comprise the majority of in the workforce and therefore businesses will have to accept the inevitable differences between generations, understand why they arise, and how to use them to their advantage.

Therefore, it only seems fitting, to detail the key characteristics of the immerging Millenials workforce and how businesses can adapt to these new generational workers.

Set up benchmarks. Millennials are inherent planners and therefore want an employer to take an interest in their future. Millennials have had much more time to practice time management and adhering to a schedule compared to Baby Boomers and Generation X.  Setting up benchmarks will allow you to gauge your employees’ accomplishments and progress while simultaneously helping them plan their future.

Provide guidance. Millenials want direction and like feedback. When assigning Millennials tasks, they prefer short-term, specific activities which provide them with direction so they can gage when they’re off track. Employers can use this to their advantage in prioritizing objectives to accomplish.

Offer hands-on-guidance. Millennials, unlike Boomers, trust authority figures and look towards them for guidance in the workplace. Although, employers may see this as a misuse of valuable time, smart employers will realize Millennials need for direction helps minimize errors.

Encourage informal socializing.  Millennails love to stay connected with a large group of people. They want constant interaction and collaboration with their bosses and co-workers. This may seem as a dilemma to employers who associate socializing with unproductivity. However, top-rated employers such a Google encourage informal socializing amongst the staff.

Emphasize positive impact. Millennials want to contribute to causes they see as ethically and socially important.  They want to feel connection with the community and want that connection to be reflected of their place of work. Employers can encourage Millennials to arrange innovative philanthropic events that can help broaden the face of the business within the community.

Incorporate advanced technology.  Young adults are always ‘wired’. Therefore; it’s not hard to guess that Millennials like to work for a business which uses cutting-edge technology. They value technology because it allows them to stay connected with their colleagues.  Employers need to integrate technology into their daily business operations not just to stay ahead of competitors but to gain bright new workers.

Adapted from “Why Generations Matter,” by LifeCourse Associates,


10 Management Lessons from Harry Potter – Kelley Brown/Leigh Steere

I’m a huge Harry Potter fan. I admit it.  I read all the books right alongside my two boys as they were growing up, fighting the urge to read ahead after they fell asleep. Yes – I was the “that person” who cried in the movies and, of course, at the end of the final book. So when I saw this article, I was immediately drawn in. Who knew that our beloved wizard friend could also teach us so much about management!? Thank you to author Leigh Steere (and Harry!) for these great lessons:

To conclude this summer’s Harry Potter mania, it seems fitting to study the HR implications of J.K. Rowling’s seven volumes.

Her novels explore human nature, communication dynamics, moral dilemmas, and social issues, so why not use them as a source of business inspiration?

Consider this scene from Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince:

Headmaster Albus Dumbledore gives Harry an urgent assignment. Harry makes one feeble attempt at completing it, but fails. He ponders other possible approaches to the task but postpones taking further action. (Sound like any employees you’ve encountered?)

Days later, Dumbledore asks Harry about his progress. After Harry describes his one measly attempt, Dumbledore sits in calm silence. He doesn’t yell or get mad. After a few moments, he simply responds, “I see. And you feel you have exerted your very best efforts in this matter? That you have exercised all of your considerable ingenuity? That you have left no depth of cunning unplumbed in your quest” to complete the assignment?

Here’s the beauty of Dumbledore’s performance management technique: By staying calm, he keeps Harry focused on performance. Managers who lose their cool miss a teaching opportunity. Why? The employee’s focus shifts away from the business at hand to managing a volatile communication.

Here are nine other business lessons from the series:

1. Recognize your prejudices. In the Potter books, we meet “squibs” (offspring who lack magical skill), “mudbloods” (witches and wizards with non-magical parents), giants, and werewolves. Various people shun them just because of their “status.” Managers: Who makes you uncomfortable? Discomfort often signals a lurking prejudice.
2. Treat people as equals, and they will give their all for you. Dobby, the house elf, blows his nose into his clothes, instead of using a tissue. Luna wears odd jewelry and rattles on about far-fetched topics that cause fellow students to label her “Loonie Lovegood.” Harry steadfastly treats them as equals. He listens to them and genuinely considers their input. Do you treat everyone as equals, regardless of their job or salary? When you do, they’ll go to the mat for you.
3. Choose competence over pedigree. Some think Hagrid’s lack of credentials should disqualify him from teaching Care of Magical Creatures, despite his clear gifting with critters.Are you passing over great candidates, because they have diplomas from community college instead of Harvard?
4. Pause before judging an employee’s potential. Neville Longbottom can’t seem to get anything right in the early books. In one class, he ends up suspended from a chandelier. Physically clumsy and lacking confidence, Neville becomes fodder for pranks and bullying. Yet he emerges as a key hero later on. Have you written off any employees as “lacking potential?” Take a second look.
5. Speak up if you see what’s holding an employee back. Neville is extremely gifted in herbology. But his grandmother thinks working with plants is a “soft” occupation and actively steers him toward another career. He begins succeeding when Professor McGonagle encourages him to play to his strengths instead of his grandmother’s whims. Millennials with helicopter parents may be marching to mom’s and dad’s rotors. Help young workers break the tether and find their own flight path.
6. Avoid saying “shut up and follow the rules.” That’s oppression, not leadership.Dolores Umbridge shows what happens when you saddle people with layers of regulations. Some lose their motivation, psychologically “check out,” and continue plodding along with their heads hung low. Others rebel in disruptive ways. The Weasley twins’ exit in Book 5 is breathtaking. Are your employees plotting dramatic departures?
7. Be humble enough to change your mind publicly. Harry Potter has many reasons to hate Severus Snape, who constantly makes disparaging remarks about the young wizard. But in the end, Potter gets new information that reshapes his thinking. Harry names his second child Albus Severus Potter in the ultimate public reversal of sentiment. Managers: willingness to admit mistakes builds workplace trust and respect.
8. Foster collaboration. Discourage “lone cowboy” mentality. Harry and Ron would not have survived without Hermione’s textbook knowledge. None of them would have made it without help from Aberforth, Order of the Phoenix, and Dumbledore’s Army. Does your organization reward prima donnas or great team players?
9. Break the elder wand. Power corrupts. Succeeding in business isn’t about collecting power. It’s about serving others and improving the world in some way. How are you personally making a difference in the workplace?

April Showers Bring…

Indiana Thunderstorm

This photo was taken by an amateur Indiana Photographer from the Flickr Group "Indiana Thunderstorms." Click on the picture to check them out!

With all the bad weather and severe storm warnings we’ve been getting in Bloomington lately, we figured it would be a good idea to write out some suggestions for designing and implementing your plan in case of an emergency. The magazine Communication Briefings published an article concerning this very subject. They outline a series of steps a business could take to control a crisis situation in a way that minimizes the effect the crisis has on regular business flow. Because this model is a great resource for coming up with your disaster plan, we wanted to share it with you!

Step 1: Develop a crisis communication plan

a. Create a plan for how your employees and associates would communicate during an emergency; Start by creating an outline of rules that supercede normal procedure. Perform mock drills, and make sure to candidly critique your own readiness and performance. Designate a crisis team who will take charge during an emergency. Organize your crisis team by determining assignments each member can assist with in the disaster, including a primary spokesperson position. Make sure to compose the following materials: an up to date list of possible media contacts, federal emergency agencies, and important contacts that will need to be notified about the crisis and could help.

Step 2: Remember that perception is reality.

Remember that rumor control is critical in the business world. Do your best to manage your crisis effectively, and avoid the assumption that everyone knows you are trying your best to control the situation. Rather, assert that you are with solid public performance.

Step 3: Treat the event seriously.

When working in the public eye, keep in mind that all of your words and actions should echo the compassion you feel for any and all persons effected by the crisis. React seriously as if lives, careers, and your business are on the line, because they just might be!

Step 4: You only know what has been confirmed.

When dealing with the media in a crisis situation do not speculate about the impact of the emergency before you know what they are. When you speculate, you open the door for rumors that could hurt your business in the end. Stick to the facts

Step 5: Communicate early and often.

Like the previous step, do not make public comments until you have all of the facts. Make sure that you aren’t speculating, but early communication is just as important as accuracy in rumor prevention. As a rule of thumb: Provide as many facts as possible, even if they are little things like the square footage of the building or the number of employees that work on site.

Step 6: It ain’t over until it’s over!

Don’t assume because the story isn’t on the front page anymore that your business is in the clear. Make sure to reassure your important customers and business associates that everything is okay.

Step 7: Get back to business.

Make sure to get back to business as soon as possible. This will show customers and clients that your business won’t let a crisis like this prevent it from functioning normally. Be prepared for media. They may want to film you back at work, so make sure you are ready!

Hopefully, these steps will help you create an emergency plan, especially in case Bloomington continues to receive the crazy weather we’ve been having this spring! Stay safe and dry out there!


New Year’s Resolutions in a Digital World

With the new year come New Year’s resolutions. People tell themselves that this will be the year they go to the gym three times a week, or this will be the year they stop smoking. As with many things in our world, resolutions have changed with the times, and now many of the resolutions I’ve been hearing about relate to the internet and social media. Whether it is a pledge to not check Facebook during work, or to learn how to use Twitter, the internet has altered what we place importance on and what we want to change about ourselves. This fad has rubbed off on me, and I too am making a resolution that I wish I could take credit for thinking of, but in fact WordPress proposed. I am going to do my best to write a new blog post at least once a week. Anyone else want to join me?

So what will I write about? For the most part, your guess is as good as mine. Since this is Chamber INsider, basically everything I write will be related to Bloomington, The Chamber, or a business issue. My goal is to give readers a peek into how things work here at The Chamber, what we are focusing on, and how what we do can help your business. When what’s going on in the office isn’t very exciting I’ll spice up the blog with some posts about great things going on in Bloomington, and occasionally I’ll discuss a new website or piece of technology that I think will have a profound effect on how people do business.

Want to join me in my weekly blogging? Have a suggestion for topics? Any questions about The Chamber that you always wanted to ask? Let me know in the comments below or e-mail me at and I’ll be happy to discuss anything and everything (within reason of course).