Category Archives: Parenting for the Workplace

Get Out Of The Way Of Your Kids’ Success

bulldozer“Doing it for them” is one of the things parents are doing to get in the way of their children’s success. “Guidance and support” are ways to get out of the way and let them succeed on their own.

Joanie ConnJenningsWire_Banner_LOGO_2015ell gives tips on how parents can get out of the way of their children’s success in this podcast interview on JenningsWire.

Dr. Connell answers the following questions in this 8-minute interview.

  • What is one of the biggest challenges young employees are facing right now?
  • How are you getting in the way of your kids’ success?
  • How can I help my kids be more successful as adults?
  • Why should you stop worrying about which college your kid goes to?
  • How can you turn your kid into someone you’d like to hire?

Are You a Victim of Learned Helplessness?

help wantedHave you noticed that parents are doing more and more for their children these days? For example, a mother of a ten-year-old tells me she still picks out her daughter’s clothes for her every day. She doesn’t have confidence in her daughter to choose her own clothes. A seven-year-old boy tells his daddy to put his socks and shoes on for him—and Daddy does! Daddy doesn’t push back to tell his son that he could do it himself.

Whether it’s the parents or the children who drive the dependence, it creates young adults who don’t know how to take care of themselves or do their work independently. This is what managers are complaining about. Young workers need “hand holding” to get them from one step to the next in task completion.

How do we raise children to learn how to do it on their own? Two things have to happen for children to develop into independent people:

  1. Parents have to let go and
  2. kids have to let go.

It’s that simple.

But it’s not that easy! Parents feel special when they are needed. They also feel special when their “best friends” love them unconditionally. Children feel good when they are taken care of, and it is so much easier if someone else does it for them.

In addition, it is scary to let go. It’s scary for parents to let their kids try things on their own because they might fail or get hurt in the process. It is scary for kids to try things on their own for the same reasons. It’s the discomfort that keeps the codependence in place.

Experiencing the discomfort of letting go andnervous trying things out on your own is not fun. Surely you can think of numerous times you have avoided doing something because you didn’t want to feel the discomfort. For example, it may be awkward for you to tell an employee that they haven’t done a good enough job. It may be heart-wrenching to discipline your child. It may be scary to take the car for a spin on your own for the first time or ask someone out on a date or travel far away to college.

We sometimes find ways around doing what we ought to do to avoid the discomfort. We ignore bad behavior, invite others along to accompany us, or decide we didn’t really want to do it anyway. We conclude the person’s performance wasn’t really that bad or choose to go to college closer to home. By doing this, we limit ourselves (and others) to being dependent and accomplishing less.

It takes courage to break through the discomfort. It may be scary, but we need to be brave to be independent and foster independence in others.

Forget Physical Fitness, Get the Right Job Fit!

happy face in sad facesOne day, I was called in to give feedback to a company’s leaders on one of their directors who had been through our assessment center. The meeting was curious to begin with, since exceptionally high-level people were there. The meeting was called unexpectedly after being put off for months after the completion of the assessment center program. But, being a consultant, I was used to flexing to the whims of clients.

Within minutes, it was clear the meeting was not a typical collaborative evaluation of an executive, with people from inside and outside of the company bringing their observations to the table. It was a meeting to develop a case to fire the director for not being able to manage the relationships in a business alliance under his charge.

The director was a smart, talented technical expert. He was not, however, skilled at building rapport and managing conflict. In the field, we call this a “derailing” factor. In other words, he was derailed from his upwardly mobile track because he did not have people skills.

This is, unfortunately, a very common occurrence in organizations. It would have been better for the director if he had learned people skills or, even better, taken a job that better leveraged his technical skills.

I coached another mismatched director—a very smart and talented woman who was an extreme introvert, who preferred to work alone. You can only imagine how absolutely miserable this woman was, when her job was to manage personal relationships among her team, her peers, and the board. She was desperate to change jobs without burning any bridges in the process. Unfortunately, this is also a common occurrence, especially in technology-based companies.

Sometimes it is not about competence, but it is about job fit. The earlier you learn that, the less time you waste in unpleasant job situations.

Job fit is important at all levels in an organization—manager, employee, consultant, business owner, and so on. College students choose “majors,” fields of study that hopefully hold their interest and in which they get good grades. Of equal or greater importance, however, are the work environment and tasks associated with a particular job.

For example, I had planned to be a therapist before I applied to graduate school in psychology. But after talking to a couple of therapists, I found out that it was a very passive job, where you sit in a room all day and wait for people to come to you. It was not at all a good fit for me. I was so glad I had done the research ahead of time to learn what the work environment was like. I recommend you do the same.

2 Things Well-meaning Parents Do that Make their Kids Less Successful at Work

Parents helpingParents usually want the best for their children.  Sometimes what’s best, however, doesn’t make them feel better–at least immediately. Well-intentioned parents want to help their kids, but helping can actually hinder them in the long run. Here are two common things parents do that can stunt their children’s growth.

  1. Solve problems for them.

Picture this. It’s Thursday night at 5:00. Your child tells you they have a class project due tomorrow. What do you do? Do you let your child fail? Do you get on the Internet or go to the library and do the research for them? Do you rush out to Staples before they close to buy a poster board and other supplies? Do you stay up till the wee hours of the morning putting the finishing touches on the project while your child gets some sleep? Or do you simply give your child some advice on what they can do to put together a project in one night and let them take care of it?

There is a tendency for parents today to solve problems for their children. We want our children to excel academically. It’s so important to get good grades to get into college to get a good job. It’s so hard to watch our children fluster, fall, or fail. However, if kids don’t learn how to solve their own problems, they won’t be able to take care of themselves in the long run.

Workers need to be able to solve problems. Continue reading 2 Things Well-meaning Parents Do that Make their Kids Less Successful at Work

Emotional Intelligence Improves Millennial Communications at Work

babies crying

By Joanie Connell

A mom confided in me she had gotten so frustrated with her 7-year-old daughter that she started crying. She said that once her daughter saw her crying, her daughter immediately stopped misbehaving and came over and held her to comfort her. The mom was beating herself up for letting that happen, but I offered a different perspective. Look at what the daughter learned from that experience. Her behavior frustrated someone so much that it led them to cry. When someone cries it’s good to comfort them. And, the mom got over it and was fine after that. How empowering to the daughter to see how someone can get upset and get over it. How educational to understand how her behavior can affect the emotions of others and vice versa. Continue reading Emotional Intelligence Improves Millennial Communications at Work

Breaking Away: Is the College Transition Harder for Parents or Students?

waving goodbyeBy Joanie Connell

College is a transition period between living at home and living independently. At college, emerging adults tend to still be dependent on their parents financially, but the idea is for them to start to figure out how to live on their own. They have to manage their schedules, get to and from classes, eat either in the dining facilities or prepare meals on their own, and figure out how to navigate life without their parents at hand.

Millennials have been preparing their college applications (or their parents have been) since they were toddlers. They are more educated, coached, tutored, and accomplished than any previous generation. You would think that would make them even better prepared for college, but that is not necessarily so. Their over preparedness is missing a key ingredient: independence. Continue reading Breaking Away: Is the College Transition Harder for Parents or Students?

The 12 Days of Back-to-School

The Twelve Days of Back-to-School
(sung to the tune of The Twelve Days of Christmas)lockers
By Joanie Connell

On the first day of back-to-school my mother gave to me
The best decorated locker.

On the second day of back-to-school my mother gave to me
2 musical instruments andteen flute player
The best decorated locker.

On the third day of back-to-school my mother gave to me
3 club sportsteen baseball player
2 musical instruments and
The best decorated locker.

On the fourth day of back-to-school my mother gave to me
4 AP classesteen studying
3 club sports
2 musical instruments and
The best decorated locker.

On the fifth day of back-to-school my mother gave to me
5 best friends!teen friends
4 AP classes
3 club sports
2 musical instruments and
The best decorated locker.

On the sixth day of back-to-school my mother gave to me
6 private tutorstutor
5 best friends!
4 AP classes
3 club sports
2 musical instruments and
The best decorated locker.

On the seventh day of back-to-school my mother gave to me
7 ettiquette lessonstie
6 private tutors
5 best friends!
4 AP classes
3 club sports
2 musical instruments and
The best decorated locker.

On the eighth day of back-to-school my mother gave to me
8 college visitscollege buildings
7 ettiquette lessons
6 private tutors
5 best friends!
4 AP classes
3 club sports
2 musical instruments and
The best decorated locker.

On the ninth day of back-to-school my mother gave to me
9 designer backpacksteen with backpack
8 college visits
7 ettiquette lessons
6 private tutors
5 best friends!
4 AP classes
3 club sports
2 musical instruments and
The best decorated locker.

On the tenth day of back-to-school my mother gave to me
10 test prep classestest answer sheet
9 designer backpacks
8 college visits
7 ettiquette lessons
6 private tutors
5 best friends!
4 AP classes
3 club sports
2 musical instruments and
The best decorated locker.

On the eleventh day of back-to-school my mother gave to me
11 service hourscommunity service
10 test prep classes
9 designer backpacks
8 college visits
7 ettiquette lessons
6 private tutors
5 best friends!
4 AP classes
3 club sports
2 musical instruments and
The best decorated locker.

On the twelfth day of back-to-school my mother gave to me
12 therapy sessions!therapist

Generation 2 Nice?

By Joanie Connellsmiling young woman

In the recent New York Times article titled Generation Nice, author Sam Tanenhaus talks about how nice the Millennial generation is. While I agree, I simultaneously wonder if we all might suffer from the Millennials being too nice. In other words, might we be better off if they toughened up a bit?

ANTI-BULLYING TO THE RESCUE

The movement to use culturally inclusive and gender-neutral language (a.k.a. “PC movement”) started at about the time of the Millennials. A huge amount of good has come out of being inclusive. But, like so many trends in the U.S., people seem to think “if a little is good, a lot must be better.” We’ve gone from avoiding discrimination to encouraging fragility.

Banning words like “stupid” at school, including gossip as a bullying behavior that can result in a call to Child Protective Services, and suspension for pointing a finger like a gun are, well, stupid.

I in no way condone hurtful behaviors and am in complete agreement that action needs to be taken when life threatening orfragile extreme cases occur. But mild bullying starts right at home—with siblings—and continues through school to work, to international politics. Recent accounts of Putin and Kim Jong-un’s bullying are prime examples. If we protect our kids by banning any and all bullyish behaviors entirely in schools, our kids will grow into fragile, helpless adults. And where does that leave our nation in a few years? Do we really want softies competing for global market share and standing up to nuclear threats?

 DO-GOODERS: ANOTHER NICE MILLENNIAL BEHAVIOR

Obviously, we want a nation full of do-gooders. But people don’t always have the opportunity to reject corporate life and “riskily pursue their own ventures” by “working out of their parents’ basement.” Thesmiling selfie Millennials—or more precisely the middle class Millennials—choose where to shop and work because they can. They have cushions (i.e. parents) to fall back on if they opt out of a job offer from a profitable enterprise. They have parents to subsidize their sustainable, organic, local vegetarian eating habits. It’s great to force business in America to be socially responsible. I am all for that. But I wonder if allowing the Millennials to choose to be socially responsible by living off their parents is the right way to go. I mean, how socially responsible is that really?

LESS IS BETTERstrong compassionate man

It’s great to be nice, but too nice can be a detriment. It may hinder not only the Millennials, but also the rest of our society as Millennials move into leadership positions. It might be better for Millennials to strive to be a strong and compassionate generation.

Don’t Fall Victim to College Burnout!

By Joanie Connell

burnoutCollege students, beware! Make the most of your summer break and take care of yourselves when you go back to school. There is enormous pressure on you to continue exerting exorbitant efforts to maintain your academic competitiveness, after nearly killing yourselves getting into college to begin with.

Overachievers burn out young. On Harvard College’s Admissions website, there is an article written by the dean of admissions and other Harvard educators that advises high-achieving students to take time off to avoid burnout. The letter starts out by describing the over-stressed lives of children who are pressured to achieve. At Harvard, they know about college burnout and they have noticed a definite increase from one generation to the next. Harvard is not alone in seeing the correlation between high achievers and burnout; the mainstream media has noticed as well.

“It is common to encounter even the most successful students, who have won all the ‘prizes,’ stepping back and wondering if it was all worth it. Professionals in their thirties and forties – physicians, lawyers, academics, business people and others – sometimes give the impression that they are dazed survivors of some bewildering life-long boot-camp. Some say they ended up in their profession because of someone else’s expectations, or that they simply drifted into it without pausing to think whether they really loved their work. Often they say they missed their youth entirely, never living in the present, always pursuing some ill-defined future goal.”

It’s not just the high achievers who are at risk of burnout. The kids who do not have high grades can be at risk of college burnout too. Some of the top predictors for college burnout, according to UCLA’s Higher Education Research Institute and the Koehler Center for Teaching Excellence at Texas Christian University, include a low high school GPA and a lack of comprehension of the material. In other words, if students are pushed into achieving a higher level than they are able to achieve, such as getting into a more difficult school than they can handle, they are more likely to burnout and dropout.

A major problem for young people in the workplace is that they are burnout 2already burned out before they get there or crash and burn shortly after they arrive. Even if they do not burn out, they feel they are entitled to greatness after all the effort they put into getting there and all the promises of sweet nectar from the heavens they have heard from the adults in their lives. Don’t work yourselves so hard that you crash and burn—either in college or when you start working. Pace yourselves. Life is a marathon, not a sprint.

Millennials: Your Reputation Is Key

By Joanie Connell

Last week I received a call from a lawyer who wasreputation up in arms about a Millennial he had just hired. But don’t stop reading because this is not a Millennial-bashing blog post. Millennials, this post is for you, to help you develop one of the most critical pieces of your attractiveness as an employee—your reputation.

The lawyer is a solo practitioner and he hired a college grad who is interested in going to law school to assist him. Literally, on the first day of work, the young woman said she was interested in other opportunities to get more experience in different types of law. When the lawyer questioned her further, the woman said she was, indeed, looking for other jobs and she might move home (to a different city) in a couple of months if she couldn’t find a good apartment here.

The lawyer hadn’t offered her the job lightly and he had said he was looking for a 1-year commitment. It was a big decision to hire her over anyone else and he had a big need to fill, being a single-person firm. He was investing a good deal of time in training the woman as well. To have to replace her within a few months would impact the business significantly.

It’s no secret that Millennials have a high turnover ratesome reports are as high as 60%. Others report that Millennials measure their job tenure in months, not years. I’ve also seen the Millennial work ethic described as a “self-centered work ethic.”  No matter how you put it, Millennials are seen as having one foot out the door.

The problem for Millennials is that you only have one reputation to maintain and you are getting a bad one. This is not only an overarching view of an entire generation, but a view of you, yourself, individually. If you switch jobs capriciously and mistreat employers in the process, you will lose credibility in the workplace. Reliability is a deal breaker. I, personally, don’t care how smart, well-educated, or experienced someone is if they are not going to show up. Seriously, what’s the point?reputation 2

The point is, it’s not only about you. Millennials, I know you get this because you have the reputation of being the most socially responsible generation yet. You understand that you are part of a larger system of Mother Earth and what you eat, buy, or do affects people on the other side of the planet. What you do also affects people closer to home. And despite what you think, people notice what you do (even if it’s not posted online).

Given the high turnover rate among Millennials, the lawyer in this case wondered if hiring a new college grad was the way to go. He also wondered if hiring a new college grad from a good university was the best idea. He contemplated hiring someone from the local community college who might need the job more and appreciate hard work and commitment. He observed that the privileged woman didn’t have a solid work ethic, need for a job, or understanding of the big picture. (The woman also asked, within 3 weeks of employment, if she could take a vacation day to go to the beach.)

This is just one lawyer, but he is not alone in his experience. I have numerous stories like this one. Millennials, take this as a wake-up call. You need to build your reputation to be employable. I can tell you right now that the young employee in this story won’t get a positive recommendation from her current employer. After a point, college grades and letters of reference from professors don’t carry any weight. It soon becomes all about what you can produce, the quality of your work, and how reliable you are in getting things done. Your reputation is key.

Stereotyping is bad and ageism is illegal. Hopefully, employers won’t base a hiring decision on a generation’s reputation, but they will base it on yours.