Much has been written about Baby Boomers beginning to retire. Make way for the Millennials!
If you are a professional climbing the career ladder, listen to your elders – and this is said in a most respectful way. Boomers joke about hiding their grey hairs, but know they have a responsibility to mentor new leaders.
Many young people, for their part, are uncomfortable because they don’t want to be viewed as not presenting themselves professionally and lacking leadership skills.
Becoming a Leader
Seasoned professionals understand the new generation expects more freedom and autonomy than they had when they began their careers. But the generations are more alike than they may think.
New professionals and seasoned pros want to succeed by doing the best job they can for their organizations. But it’s not enough just to do your job well. You need to develop the interpersonal skills and personal style that leads to success.
If you want to be perceived as a future leader, tuck in your shirt. Yes, your personal appearance is important. Proper etiquette always matters. Many businesses still operate under the old rules of a suit and tie for men and a classic dress or suit for women. Be sure you understand the culture of your organization. You don’t want to blend in but you do want to fit in.
Be a Mentor
As a current leader, you can provide invaluable guidance to people on the way up. The web has spawned such an informal environment that some employees don’t understand good manners.
Here’s a recent example. A CEO was conducting a meeting, and a young intern was asked to bring lunch to the conference room. He simply dropped a bag of food on the table and left. That’s not the way to serve a CEO…or, for that matter, anyone else. The intern could have put the lunch on a tray with napkins and silverware. That’s how to impress a leader.
Someone should have advised the intern what to do. Sure, delivering the lunch may seem like grunt work. But grunt work during a career never ends. And if you don’t do the grunt work well, why should you be given more responsible assignments?
To Get Ahead
You’re lucky if you have a mentor to show you the way, but not everybody has one. So follow these tips to make a positive impression:
- Speak with energy and authority. State your point of view forcefully. Avoid beginning with the weak, “I think….” Or, even worse, “um.” Develop the key messages you want to communicate and back them up with facts and examples. Don’t end a sentence with “up speak” as if you’re asking a question. “I’ve just become a financial analyst?” That does not convey authority.
- Dress professionally. Remember, you are always “on.” If you work for a creative agency, the dress rules are more casual. But that doesn’t mean it’s OK to arrive at the office looking all wrinkled like an unmade bed.
- Be aware of your body language. Your body language speaks volumes about your confidence and conviction. Use forceful gestures. Don’t sit slumped over the conference table or twirl your hair with your finger. Smile and make eye contact.
- Show respect. Dress appropriately, listen carefully and express genuine interest in others. Show appreciation. You can never say “thank you” often enough.
- Be willing to take direction. Learn from your more senior managers. Benefit from their years of experience. They’ve learned the hard way what works and doesn’t work.
- Grow in your job by watching. You can learn a tremendous amount just by watching seasoned managers on the job. How do they get their projects approved? What words do they use? How do they present themselves? How do they maneuver the internal politics that exist in every organization? Watch and learn from their experiences.
Your Next Job Interview
You may have thought your job interviews were over when you were hired. News flash: interviews are never over! Every step up the ladder in any organization involves another interview.
Ask yourself what do you want to be known for so that you’re seen as the best candidate for the position you want. You must give specific examples of your successes otherwise it’s a big “so what?” State that you increased income for your product by 50 percent over the prior year, not just that sales grew.
Be ready for what you may think are softball questions but will really trip you up if you haven’t planned for them: Why do you want this job? Tell me about yourself.
It’s a good idea to practice your responses out loud so that you are fluent and smooth under pressure when answering.
Be prepared to restate in the interview why you are the best candidate for a position that is now held by a Baby Boomer. With 10,000 Baby Boomers reaching 65 every day, many will be retiring soon. With so many jobs opening up with their retirements, you want to be at the forefront of the next generation of leaders.
- Baby boomers ‘driving cosmetic surgery increase’ (mya.co.uk)
- National study reveals baby boomer surge in independent employment (boomercafe.com)
- Single baby boomers facing increased challenges as they age (eurekalert.org)
- Few US cities prepared for aging baby boomers – The Associated Press (drugstoresource.wordpress.com)