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Millennials get a bad reputation in the workplace. We hear all kinds of gripes: They expect the world but won’t get their hands dirty, they want more vacation days but won’t work overtime, and they expect promotions but don’t stick around long enough to get them. True or false, the reality is that 42 percent of the millennial workforce changes jobs every one to three years.
Millennials often don’t have a lot of patience with jobs they select, but what if it’s not the job itself? What if millennials simply don’t yet know how to make it work?
Related: Getting Out of a Professional Rut
Millennials make up a disproportionate number of our growing team here at Man Made Music. My role is to lead innovation, which means tapping into the incredible “anything is possible” mindset that millennials have. Innovative thinking is core to our culture, and we’ve done a good job here at keeping our millennial crew inspired and engaged, but we have also applied a few strategies to make it work.
Whether you’d like to improve your current job or find a new runway, here are five strategies to guide your job choices and approach.
Change is not easy and courage is not about taking the easy path forward. A favorite quote credited to Abraham Maslow is, “In any given moment we have two options: to step forward into growth or to step back into safety.” Choosing growth is more fun, and success comes from taking calculated risks. Sometimes that means a new job, and other times that means stepping up your contributions where you are. The first step is recognizing when it’s time for change, and then going after it. It’s not the best job ever if you step back into safety at the point when you should move forward toward growth.
Surround yourself with talented people that push you to challenge yourself. Whether project managers, strategists, researchers, designers, linguists, musicians, composers or producers — people, at any level, whom you can learn from and be inspired by to take ideas to new levels. Simply being with people who inspire you with a different way of thinking will provide you with the skills to show up with something exciting and unexpected. It will challenge you to continually refresh your perspective and apply what you have learned to elevate your own work. It’s not the best job ever if you’re not challenged to learn new things and bring new ideas at every turn.
Be a specialist.
Create a role or position yourself in a way that enables you to make big contributions in areas where your unique skills are considered valuable to the expansion and growth of your company. If you are looking to stay in your current position, find ways to set yourself apart from your peers so that you’re not grouped together with others who have the same skill set. If you are looking for a new position, seek an opportunity where your skills are unique and desired by an organization, bringing new areas of competency that expand and grow the business. It’s not the best job ever if anyone around you can easily do your job.
Make it meaningful.
I always go back to the coconut story. Back in my ad agency days, I was on an intense call with the client, my creative team and the director of a commercial we were about to shoot. The call was going way over because of an endless debate about how the coconut should look on the beach under the tree. Should it look instantly recognizable like the coconuts we see in grocery stores — round, brown, nut-like? Or should it look like the less-recognizable actual coconut as it’s fallen from a tree — still in its heavy greenish husk before the nut is extracted? A colleague had a moment of clarity that I’ll never forget. On mute, I heard, “This is absurd. I’m done. I’ll never get this hour back.” While you should never be opposed to working through important details, the coconut story should always remind you to seek opportunities that have real meaning and impact. It’s not the best job ever if you’re unable to make contributions that feel worthwhile.
Nothing is more important than knowing who you are and being patient enough to find the right fit. Rather than thinking of the kind of company you want to work for, think about the kind of situation you want to be part of. You spend most of your day around the people you work with, it’s important to make sure these people will appreciate the real you. There should be a mutual feeling of wanting to work with each other and a respect for each other’s values, personalities, strengths and ambitions. It’s not the best job ever if you have to sacrifice who you are to be successful.
My advice to those with the job swapping itch? Stop job hopping, and start designing the best job ever no matter where you are. This can happen when your job evolves based on your own strategic design. It starts with being smart about where you choose to work, then designing the foundation of a future that has not yet unfolded. This strategy requires purposeful self-evolution and the ability to redesign as opportunities emerge. It also involves knowing when it’s time to seek a new job to reinvigorate your growth opportunities, but please choose well, and give it time.