So, you think the Millennials invented the idea of feeling entitled? Well, it’s not true. No, other generations of young people have felt entitled. I felt that way too. Yes, Gen X has our share of dreamers and employees that were so eager to take on new challenges. The difference I’m seeing is that when I was early in my career, I had older and wiser bosses who knew just when and how to put me in my place. There wasn’t concern about hurting feelings with direct feedback. They just did it. They lived it. I never once felt coddled.
I remember being twenty-seven years old and feeling like I knew it all. I thought I knew better than my boss and I really believed I could “see the big picture”. I just knew he was holding me back. After all, I had a M.A. in HR Management and a few years of experience. Why couldn’t he SEE how ready I was for a promotion?
Well, for starters, I didn’t put in enough time. In my exempt role, I thought work could be left at the door when I headed for home. Second, I didn’t do anything proactive to continue my learning in the human resources field. No webinars. No articles. Nothing. Third, I focused on administrative tasks. I wasn’t stretching myself to think of the impact of my tasks. Fourth, I had no idea what my boss really did. To me, it looked like he was on the phone and in meetings. How hard was that?
I remember the day I told my dad this boss was holding me back. He gave me some great advice that I still embrace today:
- Shadow your boss. Find out what he really does and how he reached that position. Watch for skills he uses to connect with people in the company and if he is successful, model those.
- Come to work early and work late. Learning how to do more than administrative tasks takes time and practice. Back then, this meant many hours in the office. Today, using technology, it’s easy to work early in the morning or late at night from the comfort of your home.
- Keep educating yourself. Always. It’s not your company’s responsibility to do it all for you.
- Volunteer to take on more challenging work without expecting money or title. Those will come in time.
Somehow, I made it to a more mature state of mind. I like to think I grew up. Not sure that it had anything at all to do with my generation, it was just more of a life lesson.
How did you progress through your career? Did you experience any similar feelings? What generation are you part of?
I’d love to hear all these answers (and more), so please jump over to my short, pulse survey on Generations and Leadership. It takes 1- 3 minutes to complete and I really appreciate the feedback!