The First Time Manager by Belker and Topchik Review

The First-Time ManagerListen up Gen-Y, if you aren’t already a manager at this point you will be someday soon. Those of us that either are or will be managers NEED to read this book. Do what I did, get the audio book and listen while commuting to and from work. It’s only 4 CDs which are those things we listened to before MP3s were invented. This book was recommended to me while I was attending a 2-day management class from my employer and I highly recommend it. Consider this one of those fundamental management books that everyone has on their shelf. It’s really all great advice and all management 101 foundation information. It’s a quick read at only 240 pages and well worth it.

Tim Ferro

Share This Review

Share This! by Deanna Zandt is a well written book with relevant examples but it does not really focus on its tagline of “How you will change the world with social networking”. It is a very nice overview of modern social media and shows how to utilize each for different purposes. It’s a quick read and I would recommend it to anyone over 30 that are new to social media; however, to my contemporaries and younger it is mostly common sense.

Tim Ferro

Gen Y-ify Your Company: Work Areas

Most companies don’t realize that the 25 square feet of office space that you occupy daily is extremely important. You spend 1/3rd of your weekdays in this space yet most companies don’t even give simple consideration to how employees feel about it. Though open cube farms are probably the most egregious use of space, there are numerous other issues that should be evaluated AND re-evaluated.

First and foremost is privacy. I have seen places where a cube farm would be a step up. Imagine a long table with multiple computers and monitors all in a row. That’s ridiculous! There is less than zero privacy in a place like that. Offices that have five desks that should only have two is another wonderful example. These are clearly extreme examples of having no privacy but they actually exist as well as many many lesser ones.

Following on with privacy would be peoples’ personal habits. Please be aware of how your personal habits affect others in the work place. Talking loudly or often in some areas, all kinds of body issues, any smells or old food items, etc. are just some of the personal habits that can be super annoying to others.

There was a time when “ergonomics” was a big issue in the IT world. It seems to have gone to the back burner, just like Six Sigma. However, ergonomics should be a main focus when setting up office spaces because it can prevent a number of long term work injuries such as carpal tunnel and back pain. Along with that, acquiring new technology such as an ergonomic keyboard and mouse and adjustable office chairs shouldn’t be an issue, yet those are rarely purchased without justification.

These are just the tip of the iceberg for Work Area issues. Please comment more and I will update!

Tim Ferro

Gen Y-ify Your Company: Management

After reading this article (What’s Wrong With The Boss) the other day, I knew I had to expound upon the topic. The article has a number of great points that bear repeating.

“In times like these, employees want to know more about their status and it promotes the ‘Where do I stand and how does this affect me?’ [type of] questions,” Thompson said. “Slow markets force managers and leaders to have more of these tough conversations. Unfortunately, they may not be equipped [and will likely] take the path of least resistance – and that really causes a lot of turmoil and dishonesty.”Source

“The good managers are saying, ‘If we’re going to be in a recovery sometime soon, I need to make sure my A-players know they’re my A-players, and that I’m providing them with career development opportunities to make sure they’re ready for the recovery,” he said.Source

“Investment can be time, attention and development; it can be making someone a mentor; it can mean including somebody on a task force; it can be taking somebody to lunch,” he said.  – Source

Managers already have their hands full leading their teams through uncertain and turbulent times. Even worse, more than a quarter of employees would like to see them get fired.   – Source

Honestly, 25% seems like a low number to me, but I digress. I don’t want this blog post to come off as just another “Gen Y is spoiled and wants this” or “Gen Y demands the system to change”. It’s not just Gen Y, it’s ALL EMPLOYEES!

Let me repeat that. It’s not just Gen Y that wants a change for the better in the workplace, it’s ALL EMPLOYEES! All employees want to be treated better. All employees would like a better work environment. All employees want better management. In at least half* of the articles on the internet where someone gets on a soapbox about Gen Y feeling entitled and wanting more, ask yourselves “Wouldn’t every employee benefit from this?”. Why does Gen Y get a stigma about entitlement when all we’re asking for is something that everyone wants but most are too scared to speak up about?

Tim Ferro

* a statistic I made up for the purposes of this post

How Gen Y Manages Gen Y

As an older member of Gen Y, I am now starting to see older Gen Ys being in charge of younger Gen Ys. This creates an incredibly interesting work dynamic. There are many advantages to this, but also a few drawbacks as well. Since Gen Y is incredibly motivated, this situation was bound to happen and sooner than most other generations.

The advantages. Communication transparency and options are endless. Prior to our generation, if a manager needed to get a hold of a team member they would send an email to their work account, call their work phone, and in emergencies, call their house. That’s it. Gen Ys can contact team members through all those plus Gmail, Facebook, Twitter, Text Messages, and more. Since Gen Y has been raised on open collaboration, we have no problems communicating through any medium regardless of who can see it.

The disadvantages. Too much transparency. Gen Ys don’t necessarily want to be friends on Facebook with their managers. They probably don’t want their managers following them on Twitter either. Gen Ys need to be more careful about what they post online. This is true all the time but moreso with a Gen Y manager.

Another possible disadvantage is that since, I feel, Gen Ys have gotten into managing other Gen Ys earlier than other generations, they have less overall managerial experience. It’s never easy to be a manager, and it’s even harder when you are young and managing other young employees. Managing Gen Y is inherently different than managing all other generations. For me, managing a baby boomer was much different than managing Gen Ys, but that’s a whole other post.

I have only scratched the surface on this topic but please leave comments so that I can either write a follow up or update this one. Thanks.

Tim Ferro

Gen Y-ify Your Company: Education

Education, both training and post graduate, is immensely important to your employees. Most employees want to be able to get some kind of training or go back for their masters, but this is especially important to Gen Y as they have no experience. In order for their careers to progress, they will need experience and current skills. Experience takes time but current skills can be gotten through training classes and certifications. These certifications can also legitimize the work that they are already performing. Certifications greatly compliment real world experience.

Education is clearly important to all employees but Gen Y will be the most active in pursuing these goals for a number of reasons. First, Gen Y is fresh from college and is used to studying, writing papers, and pursuing knowledge. Second, they have more free time to work at these as they most likely don’t have children or extremely full social calendars.

Your company needs to have a proper training and education budget and policies. These need to be documented, but more importantly, encouraged.  There needs to be enough time and money for those that want education to explore those opportunities without hindrance. If your company has these already, great, now review them to make sure they are up to date. Education costs rise every year, has your budget? If you don’t have these things in place, call a meeting and work on it.

I hope this sheds some light on this topic.  Let me know what you think.

Tim Ferro

Gen Y-ify Your Company: Technology

We all agree that technology is expensive, and staying “cutting edge” is not a reasonable or cost effective goal of any manager. But outdated and slow technology is an issue that affects everyone, especially Gen Y-ers. Slow and outdated technology causes many issues including decreased productivity, stress, and dissatisfaction at work. There are varying degrees to how tolerant employees will be with old technology. For older generations, who have seen even older technology, the 512MB Windows 2000 computer is light years ahead of what they had “back in the day”. For Gen X & Y, however, when our laptops at home are four times as fast, coming to work can seem almost counterproductive to what we could accomplish at home in one third the time. This issue is exacerbated by the fact that Gen Y-ers are usally bottom of the totem pole when it comes to receiving office technology. Conversely, giving younger employees the newest technology will cause dissension among the longer tenured staff.

So what do you do? Answer: Have a technology upgrade plan that accounts for everyone and stays current with acceptable standards in technology. The details of this will vary from company to company but having this will help alleviate issues and produce happy productive employees. Technology is important to Gen Y and being stuck using outdated technology is more than just an annoyance; it can be seen as a sign of a mismanaged company. For those of us who work in the technology industry, staying current is paramount. Tech companies that don’t keep up risk losing talented young employees because spending too much time with outdated technology can be detrimental to their careers.

Tim Ferro

“Gen Y-ify” Your Company

This post is the introduction of a new series of blog posts focused on how to make you company more Gen Y friendly; how to “Gen Y-ify” your company and places of work.

There is a large and growing number of blogs, articles, and discussions about how Gen Y is “not loyal” and “diva like”. There is much less going on about how to address the situation. Most of the conversations are being had by older generations and they don’t know what to do about it; they just complain. I am here to tell you that what Gen Y wants is not too dissimilar from what most employees want; we just have the fortitude to demand it. If we don’t get treated as we believe we deserve, we leave and go looking for another company that will be better. This is not “disloyal”, it is smart career building. Who wouldn’t want to work at a better company?

Keep checking back for more blog posts about how you can “Gen Y-ify” you company and your office. Leave comments with ideas and suggestions for future posts!

Tim Ferro