Sunday, February 21, 2010


Hello everyone.

“And the beat goes on............................”

Last week I listed some of the complaints from employees towards their bosses – most of which were directed from one generation to the other (in this case younger to older).

Based on the focus groups from the Hewlett study I did on the generations in the workplace and some scouring around the web, here are five complaints of bosses (and the older generation) directed at younger employees: (again, don’t shoot me, I’m just the messenger).

1. Unrealistic Expectations: Junior employees need to shed themselves of their sense of “entitlement”. They complain about the lack of promotion opportunities and seem dissatisfied if they aren’t promoted in the first six months. We’re in the middle of an economic meltdown, be realistic and be willing to pay your dues. We did. That’s how it works.

2. Lack of initiative: We’re all understaffed and overworked, ok? You say you want us to delegate more decision making authority to you, but often times when we do, you don’t run with the assignment. You seem to want someone to hold your hand and walk you through how to do it. If I had time to do that, I’d just do the job myself. This is the nonprofit world and sometimes we don’t have the luxury of not having to work overtime.

3. Skills level: You need more training. I know. We all do. You need to take some initiative and work on your weaknesses yourself. And most of you could use a lot of work on your written communications. Using text speak isn’t acceptable in the workplace.

4. Patience: You might have been the center of your parent’s universe as you grew up, but it is unreasonable for you to think you are the center of my universe. Be patient.

5. Manners: Try to remember that basic manners go a long way in any personal relationship. Too many of you seem to forget that.

And here are some complaints that seem common to all generations in the workplace – ten things that drive all co-workers crazy:

1. Putting PDAs Before People:
Christine Pearson, co-author of "The Cost of Bad Behavior", says that gadget-induced absorption is the No. 1 complaint she hears from office workers around the globe. "Most people find texting and e-mailing in meetings really offensive. The irony is, most of these same people admit that they do it," she says.

2. Eating Smelly Food:
Why should anyone mind if you have a little microwave Indian curry chicken in the afternoon? “Oh, no reason except the place stinks all afternoon.”

3. Hygiene:
Too much perfume, too little grooming. We all have to share the same space and nobody should have to remind anyone else that personal hygiene is an absolute must.

4. Failing to give credit to co-workers:
You help a colleague out and then they absently-mindedly forget to acknowledge your contribution – that is if they don’t claim all the credit outright. And sometimes, when there is blame to be assigned, it’s often somebody else’s “bad”.

5. The Rumor spreader:
Few things are as annoying as the office rumor spreader - especially since most of the time the rumors are false, and even misleading and damaging to innocent people. Just stop it.

6. Cover for me:
The person who constantly asks you to cover for them one way or the other. Even once is over the line. Don’t ask me that.

7. The Know it all:
Every office has one – the Cliff Claven (the character on the old Cheers television sitcom for those of you too young to remember) – the expert on everything, the person who knows the answers to every question – even those no one asked them. They have no idea how little they really do know, and after awhile their sense of superiority is annoying.

8. The Greedy One:
The person who invariably eats all the good cookies and leaves the ones nobody wants for everyone else.

9. The Borrower:
The one who eats your food in the refrigerator and asks innocently: “Oh was that yours” – if they own up to it at all. ‘Hey I put my name on it. Can’t you read?” And don’t forget the one who uses your coffee cup then leaves it in the sink for you to wash.

10. The Bathroom Splashers:
How hard is it to just clean up the sink area for the next person anyway?

A lot of complaints are minor, but over time mushroom into something larger because they go unchecked. Every workplace needs a protocol of some kind to keep that from happening. We live together all day long, we need some basic understanding of the ground rules. The wise manager will remember that. This is a professional development issue – yet another one we continue to ignore – important because it impacts and affects what we do, how well we do it, and ultimately our success as businesses.

Next week I want to talk about the critical deficit of professional development opportunities in the nonprofit arts world – from mastery of mundane business skills to the management of interpersonal dynamics in the workplace. I believe our lack of attention to training ourselves to be better and more competitive managers is a critical problem that impedes our best performance – in both good and bad times.

Have a great week.
Don't Quit!