Entries in Office (6)


Seven Ways the Generation Gap Divides the Office

Ciaran Griffin/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Generational divides are nothing new. In fact, Robert Wendover, managing director of the Center for Generational Studies, says you can trace it back to comments Socrates made in 400 B.C.: "[Our youth] have contempt for authority; they show disrespect for their elders."

What makes today's divide unique, however, is technology's influence in the workplace. The following list below shows how this gap plays out in the office, and what the generations can do to get along better.

1.) "Do you read?"

Rachel, a 26-year-old editorial assistant in publishing, was interested in taking on more responsibility at work. When she talked to the managing editor, in her 60s, about editing more pages in the magazine she literally had to explain why she was qualified by listing the books she's read. "I had to restrain my eyes from rolling out of my head," Rachel said. There's an assumption that because people are online so much they're not literate. On the flip side, Maria, 36, an ad sales director, will never forget when a junior co-worker asked: "Does "tweeting" something count as "saying"?" Huh?

Reality check: According to a survey by Lee Hecht Harrison Company, 70 percent of older employees are dismissive of younger workers' abilities, and 50 percent of Gen Y workers are dismissive of older workers' abilities.

2.) "How do you fill out a FedEx form?”

Danielle, 26, a magazine editor, had a problem when an intern asked her how to fill out a FedEx form. "What's so difficult about following directions?" she wondered. "Just read the form."

Reality check: Wendover suggests that the biggest thing both generations can do to get along is "show insatiable curiosity." Grant yourself the serenity to understand the difference between what others can teach you and what you can teach yourself.

3.) "I remember when cut and paste involved a glue stick."

When KC, 30, was an art assistant, her directors — typically in their 50s — recalled the days when "you literally had to paste paper together to make layouts." Though KC couldn't imagine working without a computer, comments like this would get, pun intended, old.

Reality check: That whole "when I was your age" thing can be eye opening but not when it becomes a crutch.

In an article for The New York Times, David Allen, author of Getting Things Done, wrote: "Our attraction to a world of infinite possibility, information and complexity is here to stay. The challenge is how to participate productively in this new and turbulent world, and not be paralyzed by it."

4.) "We're friends on Facebook."

Edgar, 43 and a social media marketer, hears this a lot from the younger generation.

"They think because they're connected with someone online that there's a real relationship there," he said.

This can be harmless of course until it comes to networking and expecting favors from someone you've never really spent time with in person.

"I literally had a co-worker ask me why I would waste my time going to events when I could just 'friend' people online," he said.

Reality check: It's true, recent college graduates are pretty green, but they're hungry for mentors. According PricewaterhouseCooper's 14th Annual Global CEO Survey in 2011, 98 percent of Millennials believe working with a mentor is a necessary component in development. In fact, they ranked training and development three times higher than cash bonuses as their first choice in benefits.

Rather than ignore an online request for help or guidance, suggest that you meet over the phone or in person instead. Teach the benefits of old-fashioned networking by doing.

5.) "What's a browser?"

Even people who work online aren't immune from running into a technological divide. Kaitlin, 27 and producer at an e-commerce site, explains: "Someone in our merchandising department (in her 50s) noticed a problem on our site so I asked her what browser she was using. She looked at me blankly and said: 'just a regular one.' She clearly had no idea what a browser is."

But when it comes to more antiquated forms of communication, those in their 20s may have a difficult time of it. For instance, when Andrea was working as an editor-in-chief she asked an intern to fax something for her. The girl's response: "I don't know how. My father usually does it for me."

Reality check: Thanks to something known as "helicopter parenting" it's the belief of many Gen Xers that kids today struggle with doing things on their own. In an article for The Huffington Post, titled "Are We Raising a Generation of Helpless Kids," Mickey Goodman interviews experts on how society got this way and what parents can do to teach their kids some independence.

One piece of advice from her article that applies to both generations: It's OK to fail and it's OK to admit you don't know something. Just learn and move on.

6.) "I was thinking I should learn Photoshop."

Alie, 31, is a designer for a popular handbag line. The creative director of the team is over 50 and keeps telling Alie he's "thinking about learning Photoshop."

"It's just funny to me because we don't even design in Photoshop," says Alie. "But yeah, it would be great if he took the time to understand at least half the programs his own team uses!"

Reality check: According to the LexisNexis Technology Gap survey, 49 percent of Gen Y use photo-editing programs at work versus 28 percent of Boomers.

In an article for U.S. News, career columnist Ritika Trikha advises that everyone keep their skills current, especially boomers. To get a leg up on the younger competition, she recommends: "Show employers that you're eager to adapt and keep learning by seeking out certification and classes on the latest software, database, or whichever application bolsters efficiency in your field."

7.) "I couldn't find the Internet."

Margaret, 31, and a marketing director, couldn't understand why her boss, 45, wasn't online during a recent business trip in L.A., especially since she had just returned from the same trip and had no problem. "She said to me: 'I was trying to do Linksys, you know, that Internet that is free everywhere. I get it at home, but it wouldn't connect at the hotel.' I didn't have the heart to tell her that Linksys is not some U.S.-wide free WiFi network, and she's been stealing her neighbor's Internet."

Reality check: "I couldn't find the Internet" is officially the new "the dog ate my homework."

It is important to understand the Internet in the workplace at any age.

According to Wendover, "The reality is that most of what makes the world go round is based on the collective wisdom of those who have come before. If older people reach out, young people are more likely to embrace the relationship over time."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Workers Are Mad for The 'Don Draper Effect'

Frazer Harrison/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The TV hit Mad Men may take place at a fictional ad agency during the 1960s but some of its workplace dynamics are still applicable today.  At least, according to a survey conducted by recruitment company Futurestep that encompassed 1,500 companies in the U.S., United Kingdom, China, Brazil, Germany, France and Australia.

Even though Mad Men might not be an international phenomenon, some of its plots are universal, including the strong relationship secretary-turned-copywriter Peggy Olson has with her boss, agency head Don Draper, the series' rakish lead character played by actor Jon Hamm.

In what has been referred to as the "Don Draper effect," Peggy learns she can get ahead by getting close to the boss. That also seems to be the number-one real-life lesson learned by workers in their ambition to move up the corporate ladder.

Of lesser importance is forming close relationship with co-workers.  Intelligence seems to rank lower than nearly anything else, reinforcing the longtime belief that it's not what you know at work but who you know that counts.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Workers' Biggest Pet Peeves Revealed

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif.) -- "People not taking ownership for their actions" tops the list of workplace pet peeves for Americans and the world. A new global survey by social networking site LinkedIn found that in the U.S., rounding out the top three office peeves are "constant complainers" and "dirty common areas," including community microwaves or refrigerators.

"People not taking ownership for their actions" was also the most common pet peeve globally, chosen by 78 percent of total respondents.

But not all pet-peeves are equal when it comes to gender, the survey found. In the U.S., women reported being more annoyed than men by "clothing that's too revealing for the workplace." That bothered only 29 percent of the men surveyed, but 62 percent of women.

LinkedIn conducted the research in 16 countries and collected data from 17,653 professionals. In the U.S., LinkedIn surveyed 1,953 people.

The office pet peeve that bothered hiring managers (65 percent) more than non-hiring managers (55 percent) in the U.S. was "showing up late for meetings."

American professionals are more peeved than professionals in other countries when it comes to taking food from the refrigerator that isn’t yours, and the U.S. was the eighth most peeved-out country in this regard.

The country with the most pet peeves is India -- on average, Indian professionals selected about 19 of the 38 pet peeves listed in the survey. Italy had the fewest aggravations. LinkedIn said Italian professionals, on average, selected about 15 of the 38 choices.

Some of the biggest pet-peeves in other countries were:

  • Brazil: most peeved by excessive gossiping
  • Germany: dirty common areas (such as a dirty community microwave or refrigerator)
  • India: loud or irritating mobile phone ringtones
  • Japan: office pranks

A total of 38 pet peeves were listed in the survey:

  • Loud typing
  • Loud talkers / people who take calls on speakerphone
  • Loud or irritating mobile phone ringtones
  • Listening to music or videos without headphones
  • People chatting by your workspace
  • Humming/whistling/tapping
  • Chewing gum
  • A pungent-smelling lunch
  • Taking food from the refrigerator that isn't yours
  • Dirty common areas (such as a dirty community microwave or refrigerator)
  • Not putting things in the office kitchen/pantry back where they belong
  • People throwing things in your garbage
  • Messy desk
  • People borrowing and not returning items from your desk
  • Too much perfume
  • Grooming (filing/clipping/polishing nails, tweezing, etc.)
  • Clothing that's too revealing for the workplace
  • Constant complainers
  • Eavesdropping and then chiming in
  • Excessive gossiping
  • Too much talk about health issues, spouses, children
  • Colleagues who make too many personal phone calls
  • Office pranks
  • Too many meetings
  • Starting meetings late or going long
  • Showing up late for meetings
  • Using phone or laptop during meetings
  • Hitting "reply all" on mass employee emails
  • Being CC'd on a long email string that doesn't pertain to you
  • People that don’t respond to emails
  • People who send too many unimportant e-mails
  • Not filling an empty printer with paper
  • Overachievers that pander to the boss
  • Overuse of workplace/industry jargon
  • Trivial interruptions
  • People who are first in and last out "just because"
  • Coming to the office when sick
  • People not taking ownership for their actions
  • Other

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Bosses Don’t Listen, Study Finds

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A new study seems to confirm what some disgruntled employees have long suspected: bosses don’t listen.

The study, in the journal Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, claims that the more power an individual has in the workplace, the less likely they are to take advice from others. And on top of not listening, these inflated decision-makers are often wrong in their decisions.

“There’s a tendency for power to make you confident, which is a good thing because we want our leaders to be confident, but there’s a dark side to that confidence,” said Elizabeth Morrison, one of the study’s authors and a professor of management and organizations at New York University.  ”You can be overconfident and less open to input from others.”

The researchers collected data from over 200 managers as well as their coworkers. In addition to the real-life bosses, experiments were conducted where students were assigned different levels of power and asked to make various decisions.

Those in higher positions of power had the tendency to make decisions on their own without seeking or taking input from others.

Morrison said that the researchers were surprised to find that people in higher positions of power felt an overall confidence that lead them to make decisions on their own both in areas where they were experts and in areas that were not part of their expertise, simply because they were powerful.

The researchers noted that the decision-maker and his or her underlings see things differently. Often times, the employees in positions of greater power had “internalized role expectations” that powerful people are supposed to be confident in their decisions and that taking advice from others is a sign of weakness.

However, employees working under these decision-makers believed that bosses who take advice and input are better leaders.

The managers who made the decisions on their own were found to be the least accurate. Their overconfidence and inflated sense of their own judgment often led them to the wrong decisions.

The experiments also found that women were more likely to take advice than men.

Morrison believes that the study has real-life implications for the workplace. “If you feel you have the answer, recognize that there may be a tendency to be off in that judgment and force yourself to listen to other people,” she said.

The study was titled “The Detrimental Effects of Power on Confidence, Advice Taking, and Accuracy” and conducted by Morrison, Kelly See, Naomi Rothman of Lehigh University and Jack Soll of Duke University. It will be published in November.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Most Overused Lingo at the Office

Ciaran Griffin/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Biz-speak. Buzz words. Overused lingo. Call it what you will, we all have our lingua pet-peeves. Why do employees overuse words that, oftentimes, aren’t even real words?

Among some popular “officespeak” terms: net-net, ping, touch base, deliverable, incentivize, impactful, learnings, synergy, influencer. Or what about those TPS reports?

“Words get ingrained at work but it shows you are speaking the office vernacular,” Michelle Goodman, career and workplace columnist, said. “On the one hand, we’re trying to speak the language at work and fit in. But the downside is it bothers some people and creeps into your social life.”

Goodman said every industry has its own idioms, and the tech industry often has the most new phrases. Her least favorite terms?

“'Circle back' and 'take this offline' are two that drive me crazy. It’s just a wonky way to talk,” she said.

Another “weird” one, she said, tech companies use to describe using their own products: eat your own dog food.

“They also call it dog-fooding which is ridiculous. It’s software jargon,” she said. “That’s one I thought was so weird. It’s not really a great analogy either because dog foods to humans is a gross concept.”

Other words and phrases that can be overused:

    low-hanging fruit
    think outside the box
    not in my wheelhouse
    paradigm shift
    Chinese firewall
    build the deck
    shoot me an email
    hold the fort
    key insights
    key drivers
    key takeaways
    high level overview
    best practice
    action items
    next steps
    value proposition
    table this
    hard stop
    boil the ocean
    circle the wagons
    throw it against the wall and see what sticks
    parachute in
    low-cost country sourcing

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Politics at the Office: Passion or Foolishness?

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Real estate agent Kristan Malin isn't shy about expressing her political views, especially at the office. The 47-year-old Tea Party supporter leads a team of four employees and, among them, she said conversations about subjects like taxes come up naturally. With midterm elections inciting political fervor across the country, attitudes like Malin's seem more common.

Deborah Weinstein, an employment lawyer and adjunct professor at Wharton Business School, said that, like it or not, workplaces now are often a venue for airing opinions on candidates and public policy. It's symptomatic, she said, of the increasingly casual nature of American workplaces.

But just because you can debate politics in the office, should you?

Employee-side labor attorney Donna Ballman says no. With the exception of government employees, she said, the law doesn't protect workers from being fired over political speech. Ballman said she's worked with at least three clients who suspected they were dismissed from their jobs for either supporting or opposing President Obama in the 2008 election.

"People are absolutely shocked that they have no First Amendment rights at work," she said.

Weinstein advises supervisors to diffuse political tensions by stressing that while everyone has their own ideas, they all have to work together.

"You're not going to get people to agree but you can lower the temperature," she said.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio