This is the second part of the article with advice for millennials on succeeding in today’s business environment. Each part stands alone and can be read before reading the other. To read Part 1 click here.
Back to Basics – Part 2
If you have millennial employees, you know how creative, quick and tech savvy they are. They can be at a disadvantage, though, because their education and life experiences didn’t prepare them fully for work. And this lack may hold them back in their careers unless they learn now what they need to know.
Here are the “missing secrets” that will help them survive, thrive and become valuable employees.
1. Start each day with a smile. Repeat
It’s a scientific fact that flexing your smile muscles sends a signal to your brain that tells it you are happy. And when your brain believes you’re happy, you become happy. Really!
Happy people see the possibilities around them instead of troubles. Problems become challenges they’re eager to overcome instead. Over time, they become positive people. And positive people are like magnets drawing everyone to them. Who would you rather be around: someone who complains about everything, or someone who finds the positive and is solutions-oriented?
Positive people seem approachable to others, which is important in business relationships with your coworkers, your clients and your boss.
Tip: Smile before going into a meeting. You’ll instantly relax, your face will light up and you’ll look like you’re glad to be there. This is especially important if you’re anxious, or even a deep thinker. When you’re deep in thought, your brow knits (those creases between your eyebrows). And it’s really hard to smile with a knitted brow. (Try it…you’ll see.)
2. Pick a positive role model.
Simply smiling is something you can do right now and see immediate benefits. To maintain a positive attitude and truly become a positive person takes some time and work.
Choose a person you admire who has a positive attitude and emulate her or him. She could be a famous person; he could be someone you know. Either way, watch how your role model acts, speaks and reacts to tough situations. Note his body language. What does she do to seem approachable? What is it about him that you want to emulate?
If you know him, step up and ask how he became the positive person he is today. Ask about his first professional jobs and what he learned. See if he has any tips for speaking in front of a group. People like helping others when they can, especially those who are new to their careers.
Or, if your role model is someone you don’t know, you could even take a chance on writing to her for tips. Tell her she is a role model to you and why. You never know what could happen by reaching out. Maybe nothing, but then you can still study her from afar and do some research into her life for answers to why she is who she is today.
No one is happy and positive all the time. Everyone experiences huge ups and downs in life. Positive people know how to be their positive best in public or at work, when they need to be, by focusing on the moment.
3. Ramp up your energy level.
Some people are just naturally calm and laid back. Some are shy and hesitant to speak up. If you’re either of those, practice exhibiting an energy level that at least matches your clients’.
That means observing each client and learning to adapt your demeanor on a moment’s notice. Now, if your client is shy or quiet or laid back, you might be wise to match that. Most of the time, though, clients appreciate working with people who seem excited about the prospect. People who come in with ideas they’re excited to present and an attitude that shows you’re glad to be part of the team that serves them.
You don’t need to be the Energizer Bunny or the Road Runner. In fact, having those whirlwinds around on a regular basis can be hard to take.
Instead, dive into your work with enthusiasm. Be passionate about each task, and show it.
4. Think client 1st, company 2nd, employee 3rd.
If you’re in your first professional job, you may think your company doesn’t care about you. All they care about is profits, right?
Wrong. They do care about you. Hiring and training new people – especially young people without experience – is expensive and time consuming (which adds to the expense). You were carefully chosen from a large stack of resumes and dozens of interviews. Your company has high hopes for you.
But they are running a business. To be able to pay you and your associates, they must bring in enough revenue. How do they do that? By keeping their customers happy.
Client is #1.
At RMR, we tell all our employees to think about the client first. They’re Number One. You have to have customers to keep a business running. And you want to keep those customers rather than always looking for replacements. So keeping the client happy, and doing right by them, is the number one concern.
Company is #2.
Next comes the company. Ask yourself, “What’s best for the company as a whole?” Employees, managers and owners ARE the company. So thinking about doing the right things for the company is doing right by its employees, too.
Employee is #3.
The individual is third. The company has to think about the collective group before each individual, including the CEO. That doesn’t mean you’re an unimportant third. If you contribute to the company, and help keep customers and clients happy, you’re important.
Loyalty is a two-way street. The longer you stay with the company, the more you’ll contribute, and the more important you will be to the company.
5. Remember WIIFT.
In business – any kind of business – it’s important to ask yourself, “What’s In It For Them?” aka WIIFT. “Them” could be your clients, your bosses, the company owners or even the media. It’s whoever you’re trying to persuade to take action of some kind.
Think target market.
What’s in it for them? WIIFT? What are they looking for? What need of theirs can your company fulfill? Why are they unhappy? What benefit would help them the most?
Think individual client.
You and your coworkers might love the work you did, but does the client love it? How well do they think you’re serving them? What can you do to make your clients happier?
See management’s perspective.
If you want a raise, don’t say it’s because your apartment is expensive. Your boss might commiserate with you, but that won’t sway him towards giving you a raise. Tell him instead what you have accomplished in your job, what your efforts have done for the company, how you’ve served clients in an exceptional way, etc. Back it up with numbers and dates. Once he sees what’s in it for him or for the company, you may get your raise.
6. Pay your dues.
This is an old expression you may have heard your parents or grandparents use, but it still holds true today. No matter how stellar your resume is, and how many A’s your college transcript holds, you still have to prove your worth to the business world and to your company. Your accomplishments to date have gotten you a foot in the door. Now it’s up to you to get further.
Whatever your current job is, give it your all. Every job is important to the company. Meanwhile, learn everything you can about the business, its history and its clients. Show that you’re an interested, dedicated employee. This is your time to be a sponge, to watch and listen and learn. The raises and promotions will come in time, and when they do, you’ll know you earned them.
7. A recession is coming.
As in “Game of Thrones,” where ‘winter is coming,’ sooner or later a recession will come, too.
Business both drives the economy and reacts to it. When the economy is robust and unemployment is low, it’s hard to imagine that a recession could be on the horizon. But those of us who have been doing this for a while know that the economy is cyclical.
There have always been ups and downs, good times and bad. One follows the other in a natural rhythm as surely as the seasons follow one after the other. So we know that a recession is coming.
Maybe not next month or even next year, but a recession will come. It’s not a question of if, but when. The factors that cause the ups and downs are so complicated that even seasoned economists can’t agree on their forecasts.
So what you can do, right now, is prepare yourself for the coming recession. There will be fewer job openings and more competition for the available jobs. By learning all you can now about the “secrets” to succeeding in business, you can become such a valuable asset that whoever is hiring will want to hire you.
If you’re in the age group called millennials, these “secrets” will help fill in the gaps between what you learned in school and what you need to know to be a valued asset in your job. You’ve got your foot in the door. What you do with that opportunity is up to you and we know you’ll be great!