Millennials and Engagement – A Two Way Street

I recently came across another report from Gallup on Millennials. Millennials –  those born between 1980 and 1996 are the generation in the workplace most likely to change jobs. They found that 21% of Millennial workers had switched jobs in the last year, a number that is more than three times higher than non-Millennials who report doing the same. Six in 10 Millennials say they are open to different job opportunities, which is also the highest percentage among all generations in the workplace. And Millennials who want different roles or new opportunities aren’t staying with their current company to find them. A separate Gallup study shows that an overwhelming majority of Millennials (93%) say they left their employer the last time they changed roles. Only 7% took a new position within the same company.

This is a huge issue, and opportunity, for employers who need to attract and retain these young, talented people. Managers in the Boomer and Gen-X generations must learn to understand and adapt to the values and desires of this generation. Complaining and pointing fingers isn’t the solution. The cost of turn-over is always high, not just on the bottom-line, but also to the people and culture of the organization. People of all generations, at the core, are looking for the same things in their work. Millennials will simply act quicker when they find they are not getting what they think they want in their jobs. The task for leaders is to learn what motivates this generation, and then feed them that!

Gallup asked workers how important particular attributes were to them when applying for new jobs. Among Millennials, they discovered that the top five factors are:

– Opportunities to learn and grow

– The quality of their manager

– The overall quality of management

– Interesting work

– Opportunities for advancement

As I look back over the past 30 years, I have tracked the many studies and lists published in business journals about what were the top motivating factors that people were looking for in their jobs. The list below has been so very consistent, not only in the content of what people say they most want, but in particular the order of importance they rank those very desires. The list typically is as follows:

– Interesting work

– Being appreciated for work done

– Feeling of being “in” on things

– Job security

– Promotion and growth opportunities

My experience is that, no matter your age, we all want very similar things at work and from our work. We want work that stimulates us, keeps us learning and growing, has opportunities for advancement, to be respected and trusted to be told what’s going on, and to work with leaders who see us a human being and get to know who we are and what motivates us. Beyond basic pay and benefits, these are things we inherently seek, and when we don’t get them, even if only sensed subconsciously, we become more and more disengaged, and then find ways to exit. I think the Millennials are simply acting on the disengagement-factor quicker and jumping ship, whereby older workers just “stayed and stuck it out” for the duration. Either way, the cost of unengaged workers is the number one problem and opportunity facing us at work today.

A challenge to the Millennials is also in order here. Business, beyond the profit aspect, is about serving people’s (customers) needs and wants, and if a business isn’t capable of delivering the goods and meeting or exceeding customer’s expectations, no money changes hands, therefore no business. The key here is that we all have to deliver, we have to perform, we have to work together and make good stuff happen. While we all want to have things our way, we do at the end of the day have to get stuff done to someone else’s satisfaction. Look for the best place to work yes, but there is a reason we call work “work” – unless we get stuff done and deliver, there is no business, no job, to be had.

I also want to offer the Millennials another challenge. I have told all my coaching clients over the years that their role, and business in general, is the greatest ‘personal growth’ opportunity on the planet. I suggest you look at yourself as a business unit of one, and then look for other business opportunities that fit who you are and what you best have to offer. Get clear about who you really are – uncover your core values, connect with your root passion, discover your true gifts that in combination make you unique, and set a clear purpose of who you are and what you can best bring to the workplace. With that clarity, searching for firms who align with you becomes easier and more fun. Going into interviews is now more of a mutual exploratory conversation than the typical one-way monologue. And when the time is right to make a decision, you can say yes to a place where you see your motivators being honored, where you fully utilize your talents, where growth opportunities are what you make it, and where you feel you are a significant contributor to something that brings you more alive.

Engagement is a two-way street. Leaders must see how they can better understand their people and human nature in general, and then work to create cultures that ‘plus’ people rather than diminish them. Millennials also are responsible for their own engagement, and will have the better end of working when they see they generate their own connection to the company. If you’re not getting what you want at work – bring that up to your supervisors. Jumping ship has one common denominator – YOU. ‘You’ go wherever your new jobs are, and if you don’t see how you are truly motivated, or better understand the nature of work, you will never fit in, feel accepted, and then feel you have to seek relief by quitting.

I feel the Millennials are causing the biggest shift in management systems and leadership practices the world has seen. So I suggest we learn as much about them as possible. And I hope the Millennials will take the time to learn about themselves more as well soon, and then take that wisdom into their work.


If we all take responsibility for making work a noble practice, then problems turn into opportunities that can be easily resolved!

How to Discover Your Root Passion!

When I ask people “what are you most passionate about?”, I most often get as responses – my family, my lover, my work, my hobby, nature, and so on. Then when I ask them, “what’s beneath all of that?”, I typically get some verbal rummaging, or even a blank look with an, “I’m not sure.” Many people respond by saying they feel they have lost their passion, and don’t know what it is anymore.

While we think passion comes to us from something outside of us, from another person, from some thing or place, or some type of activity, what that means is when those people-places-things are not present we then are dis-connected from our passion. When we rely on some external source for our own joy, energy, happiness or pleasure, then we suffer when we are without them.

Passion is the energy of positive, creative, loving, trusting, spirit that is self-generative. Passion is the juice of life that makes who we are and what we do come fully alive. If we don’t know what our passion is, or wait for some outside source to stimulate it, we have little option other than to just robotically go about our activities, relationships and duties. No wonder Gallop’s tracking numbers on the levels of employee engagement at work haven’t budged in over 30 years. They say that roughly 30% of all employees are engaged I their work, while the rest of the 70% are unengaged and 20% of them are actively disengaged. Wow, a very sad state for the bulk of our workforce, yet a telling indicator of how disconnected so many of us are not only from our work, but in our own lives as well.

If you desire to get reconnected and clear about your own passion – what is at the core of passion within you – take some time and reflect on the questions below, and take the Passion Exercise by clicking the link below. Really give yourself some free, uninterrupted time for self-reflection. Quiet your mind, so your inner voice of wisdom is the one answering the questions. Allow whatever wants to come up to arise, without judging the content against current expectations. Take these questions and journal them, and allow new concepts and answers to guide your pen. Make this all about you, about you becoming a higher version of You!

What do you currently think you are passionate about?

What dream or fantasy about your life have you held for some time?

What do you love about yourself?

What have you always wanted to do (but never done)?

When do you feel important and worthwhile, like you are contributing to others?

What do you love so much that you would pay someone else to allow you to do it?

What would you do or create if you knew you could not fail?

What do you think you are best qualified to do?

What are you most proud of having accomplished so far in your life?

What are you doing that no longer fulfills you?

If you only had a few weeks to live, what is the last message (lecture, note, gift, etc.) that you would give to your closest family members and friends?

What is the best gift you could receive from your family, friends, and humanity?

If you died today, would it have been enough? What would have been left to accomplish?

If you had all the money you needed to live your life exactly the way you wanted, what would you do? What would your life’s work be?

What would you do if everyone on the planet was fulfilled, healthy, happy, prosperous, and did not need you or your help?

Who is the YOU that you feel you were meant to be?

Click [here] to take The Passion Exercise.

There are three ways you can realize your passion fully in your daily life. Wherever you find yourself, now or in the future, you can always live your passion. Of the three options below, find a passion outlet for your life. Never leave home without it!

Your Passion Is Your Work – Seen as the most desired state by many, this is where we blend our deepest passions with our need to make a living. Many have been able to make this connection, and they keep the fire of their passion while at work. Many start young, when fear is not present, and some find this in the second half of their life. Either way, those who say they are living their passion through their work or business experience a high sense of joy, gratitude, and fulfillment while making a great living for themselves, their families, and those who work with and around them.

Your Work Supports Your Passion – Working to support your passion is an option. There are those who know their passion and are thrilled to devote their free time to the pursuit of it. They may have work that is enjoyable among people they find interesting, but their work is not their passion. They look upon their work with gratitude for all that it provides, knowing that their passion is waiting for them at the day’s end.

You Take Your Passion into All Endeavors – Some people have a strong sense that their existence is centered around a life calling: teaching, serving, caregiving, leading, performing, creating, exploring, thinking, connecting, loving, or learning. Their awareness of this sense drives them to embody their passion and enjoy the situations they encounter whether for work or pleasure. They seem to come alive in almost any situation because they see themselves, who they are, and what they are doing as passion / Life flowing and living through them. These people are the ones we often are most drawn to, and feel we get energy from them.

If you can live your passion in your work, and get paid for it, that’s great. If you cannot quit your day job, allow it to support your passion off the clock. If you can take your passion into any situation, especially at work, you have hit the jackpot. No matter your life circumstances, do not shortchange yourself and set your passion aside “until you make enough money.” Find a way to live and be connected with your passion daily. It is the greatest gift you can give the world and yourself!

Are you worth living a life full of passion? What would your life be like if you lived with more passion? Besides you who would benefit from you being a more passionate human being, friend, lover, and leader?

The time is now. I invite you to re-ignite your own internal flames – and get on to living a life rather than just being alive!


Live passionately. Everything else is a waste of time.

What Gets You Up In The Morning?


Do you have it? If you do, what is it, where does it come from, and what triggers it in you? Do you take that passion into your work, your role, your relationships at work, your culture? Did you used to have passion, but seem to have lost it? Have you ever had passion for the work you do now, and if not, why?

I want to touch on passion because of its central nature to our being. We have all witnessed people who are passionate about what they do—artists, athletes, poets, singers who are “in the flow” of what they do. In moments of flow, time stands still, things come and go with little effort, and the person feels alive, connected, creative, and whole. Most people have experienced moments like this; many connect with their passions at least occasionally. Those who are following their dreams and living their lives with full vigor do so from their deepest passions. For those of us observing people who wear their passions on their sleeves, are we not in awe of them, maybe even envious? They seem to be more successful, creative, happy, and joyful!

Passion is based on one of the most fundamental forces of all: the instinct to express life fully. Passion is a force of nature. It is a rich, soulful emotion. It is always an internal event, not something from outside you. It connects your thinking and feeling parts, and it makes you feel bigger, better, bolder, and more alive.

Passion is the juice of life. It is joy manifested through you. When you are living your life through, with, and around your passions, you are elevated to the highest sense of yourself where enjoyment, connection, positive energy, pleasure, success, accomplishment, and meaning reside—all of which define a life well lived! Passion makes life worth living! It is the bridge between our thoughts, feelings, and beliefs about who we are and what we want. It is the creative thrust that arises from within us and propels us to action.

A key element of the authentic leadership equation is passion, because passion is the energy behind authenticity. Those who know what their passion is have a zest for life, and those who live their passion enjoy reward and meaning. They have reached enlightenment in and through their work. In fact for these folks, work isn’t work, it is “play on steroids.”

I have come to know passion and its importance for the human family. It is at the center of our existence. It has been said that love is all there is, and love is what makes the world go round. Love, manifest in human beings, is what we call passion—the eternal flame of love’s energy is at the root of all life. Passion is the life-force. It is our motivation system from fulfilling our basic survival needs to satisfying our most vivid, expansive dreams and desires. It drives our senses and moves us toward higher states of love, happiness, connection, meaning, and satisfaction. It fuels our values, vision, desires, and outcomes.

Passion = Meaning + Fulfillment + Love + Connection + Hope

Take a moment, and stop and ask yourself:

– “Do I know what I am passionate about?”

– “If I do, am I fully expressing my passion in my work?”

– “If I have lost my passion in my work, what can I do to bring it back?”

If you don’t know what you’re passionate about, are you willing to begin a journey of introspection, get some coaching or join a peer group, or explore new avenues to get your mind and spirit activated in new ways?

If you know your passion but don’t bring it to your work, then ask yourself why, what’s holding you back from bringing that personally positive energy into the thing you spend the most time doing? Or, are you just in the wrong position or with the wrong organization? Either way, what price are you paying for not being passionate about what you do, why you do what you do, or where you work?

If you are a leader:

– Are you channeling your passion mindfully every day, in every encounter with your people, to help bring about the best and highest results for all? How do you know?

– Have you misplaced your passion, and if so, are you ready to re-engage with it and bring it back into your work? What will it take for you to reconnect with your passion?

– If you don’t bring passion into your work, or are faking it, do you realize your people are probably on to you and your inauthenticity? Remember when you had someone pretending passion with you, and are you ready to wake up to the current realities of your working that way and the effects on your team?

We all have lapses with passion, maybe even at times question why you are doing what you are doing. When I do, I find an easy question I can ask myself is, “What do I truly stand for in this moment, with this endeavor, with these people?” It reminds me of what’s important to me and gets me right back to square with what makes me come alive, allowing me to be more present, open, inviting, connected and effective as a leader.

Passion is directly linked to our values, our natural gifts and strengths, a vision, and a strong sense of purpose. It takes plenty of personal soul-searching and reflection to gain conscious clarity about who we are as values, passion, gifts and purpose. I encourage you to turn the light of inquiry inward, and connect your spirit to your higher ideals. This will re-ignite the pilot-lite within you and allow you to see and think more clearly and creatively, connect more deeply and meaningfully with others, and enrich and enliven your life and others’ lives around you.

Passion is the fuel of being a conscious leader. Light yourself up and watch your world improve dramatically!


Leadership Nuggets to Stir Your Spirit

I attended a wonderful conference last week called Milestones in Leadership, put on by a good friend of mine – Ron Hoefer. Over 400 were in attendance, and the theme was to rethink the logic of your own success. From the three presenters, Bill Taylor from Fast Company, Peter Salvati from DPR Construction, and Garry Ridge of WD-40, I had some ‘stream of consciousness’ takeaways as I listened through the ear-pieces of authentic and conscious leadership. Here are some I’d like to share, and I invite you to allow one or two of the questions and comments below into your consciousness with the intent to stir you in new ways:

– Leader as ‘difference-maker.’

– What idea or ideal does your company now stand for?

– How do you as a leader enliven humanity within your organization?

– What gets you up in the morning?

– The most successful companies actually care more than others about their people and customers.

– Hire for attitude and values, train for skills.

– Are you open to see your own ‘blind-spots’ due to your success?

– How do we ‘over-throw’ successful companies?

– What is your core ideology? What does success look like?

– Why does your company exist…beyond even to make money?

– Remember – every industry, business and organization is about people!

– Always be on the hunt for great people, hire them whenever you find them.

– Put ideas and people first, technology and money will follow.

– What’s the biggest opportunity we face?

– There are no failures, just learning moments.

– Leadership is all about THEM!

– Create a culture of belonging.

– Teach leadership – set expectations of what great leadership looks like in your firm.

– Are you learning as fast as the world is changing?

– When was the last time you did something for the first time?

– True leaders give their people an open license and permission to play.

– Come to realize that the risk of staying ‘status quo’ is now riskier than undertaking your own change-

process and transformation.

– Create a ‘learning environment’ in your organization.

– People are hungry for more humanity – kindness trumps being clever or following policy.

– How can our organization do things that are more memorable?

– Stop making leadership a lonely profession – look at leadership as a ‘collective’ activity.

– Think of yourself as a ‘solution-finder’, not a problem-solver.

– No one alone is as smart as all of us together!

I hope some of these insights from very successful leaders resonate with you, and call you into new thinking and action. If we are not evolving intentionally, we are destined to continue revolving around our prior ways of thinking and acting.

“Leadership, at its core, is all about the development and evolution of human beings.”

How Millennials Best Play in the Workplace

Last week I attended the annual conference of Conscious Capitalism, and sat in on a breakout session on the topic of Millennials, or M’s. Kristen Hadeed, the 27 year old Founder of Student Maid, was the presenter – herself a Millennial. The audience, one of the largest of the sessions, was composed mostly of Boomers and Gen-Xers. She focused in on a few key areas and offered us some of the most insightful wisdom that we all can apply in present time to help this new, energetic and powerful generation truly blossom at work and become their higher and best selves in their careers.

The first topic she addressed was that M’s are afraid to fail! This generation was so protected by their parents that learning the lessons failing, making mistakes, and losing typically teach us was largely skipped over. Self-confidence and self-reliance are characters aspects that are therefore under-developed, and when M’s show up in the workplace they often hesitate to make decisions or take on full responsibility. Hadeed suggested we as leaders give the M’s our organizational values as a moral compass to understand what’s important and how to go about thinking things through to make better decisions in their roles. Turn values into everyday activities, and explain what you values mean by offering straight, desired action steps so M’s can see that failing, when attempting to do the right things, is often an outcome. Allow them to learn from failing.

I coach my clients, and hear this often more recently as well, that we leaders need to create an atmosphere that it’s “OK to fail.” If we are not trying, not looking for new solutions, not forging new pathways, then we are doomed to stay stuck, and prevent growth. In fact, some leaders go so far to say “Fail fast-Learn faster.” Life is messy and unpredictable, and if we are not learning by trying new things, then mediocrity and long-term failure will be the outcomes.

Hadeed’s next sharing was on why M’s struggle with feedback. M’s have been told since birth that they are great, that life is your oyster, and you can have anything you want. Somewhere in those helpful parental intentions M’s missed out on how to take in and give feedback that is so necessary for our own development both as a person and as an employee. She uses the F-B-I method and has all her leaders and employees trained on how to utilize it in any challenging, sticky or difficult situation between two people. It’s a three step conversation that addresses to another how you feel (F) about something the other did, what behavior (B) specifically the other did that trigger this feeling in you, and what the impact (I) is on you, the relationship, the team or the organization. This method works on all humans no matter the age, and it helps teach others on the impact of their words or behaviors.

Conflict resolution and problem-solving done well are so important to all relationships, personal and professional, yet we humans are so lacking in this critical skill-set. Hadeed reminds us of a simple yet very powerful and effective tool we all can learn and use in moments when things go sideways with one another. Many organizations are using tools such as this and others to help their managers and employees become more skilled at the art of effective conversations. I believe this is one the most important gifts we as leaders can offer our people, and it has such positive ripple effects throughout our communities. You can use this tool in your hiring process, mid-course corrective actions and especially in the performance reviews. How would such a challenging process be more beneficial if the leader went into it with their employee and said, “I want you to be the best version of who you are at work, because I care so much about you, and want you to thrive, and I have some feedback I feel will help you become such. Will you help me?”

Hadeed added such a wonderful nugget – “Leadership and Parenting are the same thing.” Tough love and tough guidance, done with the highest and best intentions is such a rare form of leadership, and one that we all can improve upon if we desire.

I asked her about M’s and are they more ‘purpose-driven’ and more interested in working for companies who have a sense of purpose beyond making money. She said she doesn’t feel M’s are any more or less driven by purpose than other generations, but the M’s are much more technologically savvy and tap into it when they are not feeling valued. M’s crave work that is interesting, fulfilling and full of learning opportunities, and if they are not getting that they can easily look for another job and jump ship. She shared that M’s are very loyal when they feel they fit in. When M’s feel good about their organization and their contribution, they are strong advocates – leaders just need to get them to ‘believe!”

In listening to such a powerful, articulate and wise leader in all her 27 years, I was so delighted and heartened that she shares the same perspective, that M’s are not the problem, that we all, in regards to the workplace, are so similar and share the same motivators. M’s have fears, especially around failing – so does everyone in every other generation. M’s need timely, direct, useful feedback, without any judging, shame, blame or degradation – so does everyone in every other generation. M’s want to work in place where the work and people are interesting, where they are learning and growing, feel they are a key part of the whole, and are fulfilled just by being there – so does everyone in every other generation. I imagine all her hundreds of employees feel much more connection to their work through her insightful leadership – and I left that session with such as sense of upliftment and gratitude. Thank you Kristen!

M’s are demanding a higher and better form of leadership. They will not tolerate being put into a box, told what to do with little or no explanations, wait for the annual review to find out they are failing, or work for leaders who cannot communicate or understand what really drives and motivates people. Kristen reminds us leaders we need to evolve and expand our awareness and understanding of people. We need to learn to be open and vulnerable in our communications so to connect more effectively. We need to explain our values, why they are important and give others guidance of how to work within their intentions. We need to encourage learning by giving them room to fail, and helping them see how to learn and grow from those experiences.

Leadership in the 21st century is not about judging, shaming, blaming others, or wishing things were the way we want them to be. It’s time we wake up and get real with the demands leadership requires. Leadership’s number one goal is to make others better, so the more we take that responsibility on fully, the quicker our people and organizations will reflect the higher visions of community, success, prosperity and happiness most people desire. If we can’t wake up to the new realities, we will be relegated into the scrapheap of just being someone others can’t relate to. People will end up losing ‘their heads, hearts, souls and eventually their hands when they walk away with their feet.’

Great leadership, like great parenting, is a choice in how we show up – Remember, it’s not about us, it’s always about them!