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The Impact of Emotional Intelligence

The Impact of Emotional Intelligence

Emotional Intelligence is The Game-Changer

 

UNDERSTANDING THE IMPACT OF EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE AT WORK: Emotional intelligence (or, “EI” for short) drives your success at work. On a personal level, your career aspirations can stall or get entirely off track without emotional intelligence. However, emotional intelligence impacts entire organizations too. Without leaders who have high levels of emotional intelligence, organizations are negatively impacted through strained employee and customer relationships, higher turnover rates, and often lower bottom line results.

One Leader’s Journey to Emotional Intelligence

As a career coach and leadership coach, I have a front row seat to observe just how impactful the presence or absence of emotional intelligence can be. I know from my work with individual leaders as well as organizations and management teams, that having even just one leader committed to improving their levels of emotional intelligence will affect your entire group. 

How to Develop Emotional Intelligence

Here’s a real-world example of how to develop emotional intelligence.

I once had a leadership coaching client I’ll call Jim, who was in a leadership position at a large, successful tech organization. Showing toughness and determination were obvious strengths for this leader and had played a huge part in his advancing to high levels in the tech industry.

But, after a certain level, what Jim knew how to do — being firm and direct, hardheaded and focused on results — wasn’t working out for him anymore. It was easy to see that this 46-year-old leader had stopped moving forward and was stalled out in their current mid-management job, unhappy, and constantly wondering why the VP position wasn’t offered.

Even though Jim was working as hard as ever and driving his team towards even greater goals, there had been no mention of moving into levels of higher responsibility since joining the company 3 years ago. Jim was genuinely mystified: Couldn’t everyone see his advanced tech skills, his grinding work ethic, his name brand school, and impressive resume?

“Company sales were up, my team likes me, I make sure we do a happy hour every week— so why no promotions?” this executive questioned.  “And it was all but stated in my interviews that with hard work, meeting quotas and building a strong sales team, a promotion to VP was an opportunity that would be there.”

As if the frustration and disappointment that was mounting at work weren’t enough, Jim’s relationships at home with his wife and kids were unhappy. His wife suggested they try couples counseling. (Jim felt this was entirely unnecessary…. at first).  

Emotional Intelligence is Often a Blind Spot For Leaders

What was creating so many problems for Jim was that he had zero awareness around how other people were feeling in their interactions with him. This was true for his co-workers, reports, leadership, and his wife and kids too.

Yes, Jim had a lot of impressive tech knowledge, skills, and fun personality (in a back-slapping kind of way) but these positives were overshadowed by his inability to be aware of and manage strong emotions or show empathy to those on the team. He had always viewed his fist pounding, demands, and tendency to talk over peers and customers instead of listening as “his style.”  He did not understand that his way of relating to other people was getting in the way of forming collaborative relationships, goodwill, and cooperation — both at work, and at home. 

Emotional Intelligence Coaching: The Lightbulb Goes Off

The organization had also reached its limits with this leader and suggested that emotional intelligence (EI) coaching and leadership coaching would be beneficial.  Not particularly a happy camper during our first meeting, this changed over time and good things started happening!

Before getting involved in Emotional Intelligence coaching, Jim, like many, genuinely believed that his outgoing personality, and drive for success,  paired with a strong set of software development skills and experience should be enough to advance his career. However, Jim was also a smart guy, and he was open to trying something different when he could see for himself that his usual way of doing things wasn’t working out. [For more on this, check out “How to Get Ahead at Work“]

The first step of our emotional intelligence coaching work consisted of  360 emotional intelligence survey assessment called the ESCI, which would help us to understand the impact Jim was having on those around him. As part of my assessment process, I interviewed Jim’s current manager and had his sales team, peers, and several customers all complete an online survey providing invaluable (anonymous) feedback.

In the first meeting to review survey results, a lightbulb went on for this leader.  Though it was tough to hear that the ambition, drive, and force that were self-described strengths could also be viewed as limitations, it was obvious that this leader’s behaviors were getting in the way of a high-level promotion and success at work. It wasn’t the ambition and drive that was negative; it was the expression of those (impatience, yelling, over-focus on output at the expense of people) that was a problem. However, with Jim’s newfound self-awareness he could now understand them as the career-limiting behaviors that they were and change could begin.

Emotional Intelligence Can Be Learned

Through coaching and determined practice, this manager improved key leadership skills. One skill area that was notably low on the assessment (and a total “blind spot”) was mentoring and coaching employees. What a great change on the sales team when they began to see their leader had more interest in how they could each grow at work and made sure they got what they needed to be successful. Jim’s sincere interest in how people were doing (and the ability to listen and understand) went much further towards building moral and positive relationships than his happy hour.

Most importantly, Jim learned that leaders need to manage conflict effectively.  This manager’s emotional intelligence survey results were clear: a better way to handle inevitable work conflicts needed to happen, especially with the sales team and customers. (Interestingly, survey outcomes showed this leader managed conflicts more effectively with peers and with his own manager.) Being more self-aware meant better self-management, which meant no more fist-pounding or loud-voiced demands, which meant far better workplace relationships. Instead, Jim learned to recognize and manage his own feelings, and show (and feel) empathy and consideration for the thoughts, feelings, and ideas of others.

It took a lot of practice to change old habits and stitch together change, but Jim was able to put his core strengths of intelligence, determination, and hard work to great use. He was successful.

The Benefit of Emotional Intelligence Coaching

As is my process in emotional intelligence coaching and leadership coaching, I checked back in with Jim and his company. According to the organization some months later, company-wide positive changes had been experienced because of Jim’s turnaround. Customers were more satisfied (at least in part) as a result of this one leader’s understanding of their impact in the workplace. Key employees were more productive. They’d reduced turnover. Leadership was happy.

Jim was happy too. Because of his long-standing ability to be resilient and manage change, he was able to drive his career to the next level. He got that promotion. But perhaps even more importantly, he’d also strengthened relationships with his wife and family. Jim’s new understanding of the importance of emotions, how to be more sensitive to the feelings of others, ability to listen, and to communicate more respectfully touched every area of his life in a very positive way. 

Jim can do it, and you can too! I hope this story inspires you to develop emotional intelligence in yourself. It’s worth it.

Sincerely,

Linda Pounds, M.A., LMFT, Certified EI Coach

 

HEALTHY PERSONAL & PROFESSIONAL RELATIONSHIPS | Linda Pounds, M.A., LMFT is a relationship expert and certified emotional intelligence coachwith years of experience as a marriage counselor, executive coach, and leadership coach. She’s here to help you cultivate positive relationships in every area of your life. Learn more about Linda…

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How to Get Ahead at Work

Advice From a Career Coach

HOW TO GET AHEAD AT WORK | Do you feel frustrated with your current job? Perhaps you generally feel good about your line of work, but want to take it to the next level. Maybe, like so many people, you’re feeling a vague sense of dissatisfaction with your job: You know you want more, you know you can do more, but aren’t sure which direction you should go in — much less how to make it happen.

Today, you’re in for a treat. I’ve invited Denver career coach and leadership coach Nicholas Manning to speak with me on the Love, Happiness and Success Podcast, and share his best advice for how to move past paralysis and stagnation, and start taking control of your career in a new way.

We’re talking about many things to support your professional development, including:

How to Know When It’s Time to Make a Career Change

As with all personal growth work, the starting process of transforming your career often begins with not-so-great feelings, including stagnation, frustration, self-doubt and even fear. Understanding how to turn these “negative” feelings into motivation is the first step in taking action in your career. Nick shares some tips for how to transform exhaustion, frustration and fear into excitement and determination. He also shares some career coaching tips for productive action you can take to begin exploring other options for your career.

Charting a Course For Your Career

Another thing that we talked about was how to think about what kinds of professional roles would fill you up, energize you, and most importantly, leave you with enough margin at the end of the day to be the spouse, parent and friend you want to be. Nick shared his career advice for how to evaluate your options, and use self-awareness and intention to create a thoughtful plan for making positive changes in your career.

Why You’re Not Getting Promoted — The Inside Scoop

On the show, I put Nick on the spot to ask THE question so many of our career coaching clients struggle with, which is, “WHY am I not getting ahed at work? I’m doing a good job — why am I not getting promoted, or even recognized??” Nick shared fantastic, actionable advice on how to begin advocating yourself as well as developing the personal qualities that leaders look for.

The Importance of Emotional Intelligence at Work

Knowing how to get ahead at work is a skill set. A skill set that — to the surprise of many — may be entirely different than the actual work product itself. Nicholas spoke from his perspective as a leadership coach (and a leader himself) about how emotional intelligence skills are the non-negotiable “magic sauce” that separates emerging leaders from worker-bees. He discussed specific emotional intelligence skills that you can develop that will help you be more productive, have better relationships at work, and start getting the recognition and rewards that you deserve.

Learning How to Lead

I asked Nicholas to put on his leadership coach hat and give me his best advice (on your behalf) about how to develop yourself into a great leader, if you’ve recently been promoted into a leadership position. He talked about how focusing on output, while tempting, is almost never a successful strategy for becoming an inspiring, effective leader. Instead, he recommends focusing on developing your personal qualities: How to be authentic, trustworthy, a great communicator, and a source of support for the people you manage.

How to Cope With a Bad Boss

Lastly, we spoke about one of the most difficult (and unfortunately too common) job experiences that so many people have, which is how to cope with a extremely difficult manager or supervisor. We talked about how toxic some workplace environments can be, and some specific strategies that you can use to start improving the relationship you have with your boss. (Or, when to know that it’s time to cut your losses and leave).

We help this career advice helps you make positive changes, and develop a more fulfilling and rewarding career!

Lisa Marie Bobby, PhD & Nicholas Manning, MBA

 

 

 

Listen & Subscribe to the Podcast

How to Get Ahead in Your Career

by Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby & Nicholas Manning, MBA | Love, Happiness & Success

Music Credits: Diezmo, “On My Werk”

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FIND PURPOSE, CREATE MOMENTUM, ACHIEVE SUCCESS | Nicholas Manning is a Career Coach, Executive Coach and Leadership Coach who specializes in helping you achieve at the highest level of your potential in the workplace.

Whether you’re identifying your ideal career, or already in a role of great responsibility, Nick can help you gain self-awareness, motivation, direction, leadership skills, time management, and personal productivity skills to help you achieve your professional goals. Learn more about Nick here.

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Financial Success

Financial Success

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby is the founder and clinical director of Growing Self Counseling and Coaching. She’s the author of “Exaholics: Breaking Your Addiction to Your Ex Love,” and the host of The Love, Happiness & Success Podcast.

How To Be Better With Money

Money. Love it, hate it, it matters. Financial concerns can impact every area of your life, including your relationships, your career and even your self-esteem. Learning how to take charge of your financial success is vital to creating the life you want.

Money and Your Career

Think about your career: Are you doing what you love? Are you doing what you love but resentful and exhausted because you’re not getting paid enough for it? Or do you white knuckle your way through every workday at a job that you hate, because of the paycheck? Neither is ideal, and learning how to manage your money can be part of making positive changes in your career. 

Money and Your Emotional Health

How much money you have can make the difference between feeling safe and secure, and like you’re always scrambling and juggling to make ends meet. Furthermore, feeling like you’re failing financially can impact your self-esteem. Many people are carrying shame about their debt, or feel embarrassed by their financial circumstances.

Feeling like you never have quite enough can lead to stress and anxiety, and even feelings of depression. While money may not buy happiness, feeling like you generally have the resources to fund the lifestyle you enjoy can certainly impact the way you feel.

Have you ever said “no” to an out-of-town wedding because you felt like you couldn’t afford it? Or canceled your yoga class membership? Or slept less to put in a few extra hours on the job? Or denied yourself effective counseling or coaching, even if you knew it would really make a difference in your life? Or even made food choices that were less healthy, but more budget-friendly?

All of these scenarios are the intersection between your money and your self-care. Part of the reason getting a handle on your money is so important is so that you have the resources to nourish yourself, spend money on things that bring you genuine joy, or invest in something that fills your soul.

Once you have good financial skills, money can be a source of security and joy, rather than a constant worry. Really!

How Financial Differences Impact Relationships

We often think about our financial success in individual terms, but how you relate to money can also have a major impact in your marriage or partnership. When two people have very different financial goals, or relationships with money, financial differences can be a major source of conflict in a relationship. [Financial Therapy For Couples]

When couples fight about money, they’re often fighting about their values, priorities, and their hopes and dreams for the future. Over time, money fights can become bitter and entrenched, and can even lead to ruptures in your relationship. Understanding how to manage money as a couple is so important, it’s one of the skills we routinely teach couples in our Lifetime of Love premarital counseling class.

Improving the way you manage money as a couple involved both of you understanding your subconscious relationship with money, having open and honest conversations about your priorities, values and goals, and then working together to make a plan to create the financial future you want.

What Kind of Relationship Do You Have With Money?

The first step in learning how to be better with money is figuring out what kind of relationship you have with it... and then how to improve it.

Money always means different things to different people. For some, financial success means having a lot of stuff. For others, money in the bank means freedom and / or fun. Other people equate money with safety. Still others view financial security as a legacy to pass on to their family.

However, money is does not always have positive associations. You may, on an emotional level, feel that it’s wrong to acquire wealth or have too much money. You may have a subconscious belief that you always struggle financially, or that wealthy people are greedy and selfish.

Perhaps you’re intimidated by money. Many people are. Being fearful of making financial mistakes, or having anxiety about investing can lead to long term financial decisions that put you at a disadvantage.

Conversely, feeling comfortable with money and confident in your ability to handle it can turn it into a positive force in your life. One of the biggest issues that many people encounter when they are seeking to get better with money are their own — often hidden — associations, beliefs and emotions related to money.

Bringing these to the surface and deciding what beliefs are helpful to you currently (and which are getting in the way of your financial success)  will allow you to make real and lasting change in your relationship with money.

Get In Control of Your Finances

Part of becoming a whole person is learning how to cultivate financial success, according to your own terms. Learning how to be good with money is a life skill, just like taking care of your physical and emotional health, and learning how to have good relationships.

Learning how to be better with money is not just a matter of making a budget and stopping your $5 latte habit. Genuine financial success requires self-awareness, clarity about your core values, and intention — as well as a plan. Financial management is a vital life-skill that is learned, and once you have a tool-box of strategies to manage your money you can flourish in every way.

That’s why, on this episode of the Love, Happiness and Success Podcast I’m speaking with Profit Boss Hilary Hendershott. Hilary is a Certified Financial Planner, financial advisor and a wealth coach. She has helped many people learn how to not just manage their finances, but create genuine abundance in their lives.

She’s here with actionable advice to help you:

  • Gain self awareness about your patterns with money
  • Stop sabotaging your financial success
  • Use your core values guide your financial decisions
  • Develop an intentional relationship with your money
  • Guide your money, easily and effortlessly
  • Create long-term financial peace

Listen to our discussion and get actionable advice from Hilary about how to start changing your relationship with money for the better, starting today.

 

xo, Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby

Listen & Subscribe to the Podcast

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by Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby | Love, Happiness & Success

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How to Balance Your Career and Relationship

How to Balance Your Career and Relationship

Rachel Harder, M.A., LMFT-C is a positive, solution-focused “change agent” with a fun, empowering approach to personal growth and couples therapy. Rachel helps couples achieve a more balanced life both in their personal and professional lives.

Working it out

As a relationship counselor and life coach, I have had the opportunity to work with couples who both value their career and their relationship, yet do not know how to properly balance the two. Understanding this work/life balance is essential for not only individuals looking to cultivate a happier life, but especially for couples in long-term committed relationships.

For many of us, we become aware of how off balance our priorities are in unexpected moments. For me, I was typing furiously on my computer one evening, multi-tasking (or more attempting to multi-task). I was trying to carry on a conversation with my partner and tie up loose ends from the work-day when my partner said, “Work isn’t our whole lives.” I often revisit his words during moments of overwhelming stress or when I struggle to find balance. This little statement took me by surprise. Mainly, because this really hadn’t occurred to me.

I’d spent years in school to foster a career I could be proud of. In fact, many components of my life have revolved around the idea of creating success. In living this way, I had fallen into the trap of working long hours and forgetting to devote quality time to my other values. I was treating work like it was my whole life.

Now perhaps you’ve had a moment like this, where you’ve noticed you derive a sense of worth, value, or even freedom by focusing on your career. Perhaps, you’ve done this at what might feel like a cost (your social life, time with loved ones, less time doing hobbies, etc.).

What if I told you that you didn’t have to pick between a successful career or successful relationships?  In working with clients (and based on personal experience), I’ve found a few tips to be very helpful in creating balance.

Take Stock of Where You Spend Your Time

Dr. John and Julie Gottman describe this conundrum (balancing work and relationships) as a “simple” numbers game. If you and your partner both work 60-70 hours per week, this means there are simply fewer hours available to devote to your relationships. In these situations, they recommend maximizing the time you do have together (make that 10-minute break count) and to also evaluate what is sustainable for your relationship, long-term.

Crunch the Numbers!

Look at how much time you and your partner actually have together and discuss if this will be workable over the long haul. If the answer is no, this is an opportunity to really evaluate your goals as a couple (which I’ll talk more about next).

In the meantime, establish routines and rituals that allow for you to create meaning with the limited amount of time you do have together. For example, if you have 10 minutes together before heading to work, try putting your phones away and take the first few sips of your morning coffee together.

Identify What’s Truly Important

Certainly, it’s positive to derive satisfaction from your work, but what are your priorities in the “big picture?” Typically, most people don’t wish they’d spent more hours at the office…but we do often remember and, maybe even regret, the missed moments with loved ones or doing the things we love.

So, what’s important to you and your relationship? Take a moment to write out a list and prioritize it according to what YOU feel is best and then discuss it with your partner. How do your priorities line up? Are there opportunities for growth both in your personal priorities and the priorities of your relationship?

Discuss With Your Partner Your Long-term Goals & Values


Talk openly about what you have in common (and what you don’t have in common). From there, you can identify ways to support one another as well as longer-term plans that will allow both you, your partner (AND your relationship) to have their respective needs met.

Often our relationship to work is rooted in what our work represents to us. For some it might symbolize a paycheck, a means to an end. For others, it might represent self-worth and validation. Understanding what work means to you will be a critical component in not only communicating with your partner or loved ones but also better understanding yourself.

Find Other Outlets That Assist You With the Same Goal


What I mean by this is, if you rely on work as your primary outlet to feel validated or accomplished, it may be helpful to find other avenues that meet these same needs. In doing this, you will have more flexibility to set healthy boundaries around work and you won’t need to rely so heavily on work in and of itself. Put bluntly, you’ll start feeling better!

My hope for you is that in evaluating these different pieces, you’re able to put your career into context (what’s the big picture and what matters most to you?). In doing this, it doesn’t mean that you value your job any less but instead, you may find you’re able to let go of unnecessary pressure and devote time to the relationships you truly value.

To sum it all up, by fostering open communication with your loved ones and by being clear in your values and goals, you certainly can have a satisfying career and satisfying relationships. You might even be able to find that tricky “balance” everyone is talking about.

Wishing you success,
Rachel Harder, M.A., LMFTC

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Generational Differences in the Workplace

Generational Differences in the Workplace

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby is the founder and clinical director of Growing Self Counseling and Coaching. She’s the author of “Exaholics: Breaking Your Addiction to Your Ex Love,” and the host of The Love, Happiness & Success Podcast.

Markie Keelan, M.A., LPC is a dynamic online career coach who helps individuals get clarity about their gifts and passions. She especially enjoys assisting millennials in creating authentic success in their lives through the development of meaningful careers.

Teena Evert, M.A., LMFT is a Denver career coach, leadership coach and certified conversational intelligence coach. She helps individuals become empowered to develop their strengths and achieve life satisfaction — both personally and professionally.

Think About When You’re From

Generational differences in the workplace aren’t something that you might always have on the top of your mind, but they can impact you more than you may realize. How you communicate, how you work with a team, your expectations about your career path, and even the way you relate to authority figures can all be connected to the point in time that your personality and professional identity were being developed.

Understanding your generational differences, particularly how they show up on-the-job, can help you not just understand yourself more deeply, but help you work more effectively with your colleagues. 

Where it All Began: Parenting Practices Across the Generations

In order to understanding generational differences in the workplace it’s helpful to take a look at how parenting practices and family life have evolved across the decades. Many baby boomers born in the late 1940s into the early 1960s were raised in traditional family units, and came of age at a time that social change and revolution was in the air. Broadly speaking, this resulted in a generation of people who embrace traditional ways of being as well as personal growth and hope for the future. In the workplace, baby boomers often have a strong work ethic and excellent leadership abilities.

In contrast, Gen Xers born in the late 1960s and 1970s were raised in family systems that were much less child-focused than previous generations. Divorce rates were at an all time high, and many adults of this period put an emphasis on self-discovery, and career and financial advancement. As a result, GenX kids in the 1980s were the original “latch-key kids” often left alone without much supervision during a time when alternative music, art and culture were becoming more prominent. As a result, this generation has personality traits that trend towards realism, independent thinking, self-direction, privacy, and entrepreneurial activities — all of which manifest themselves in the workplace.

Millennials, born between approximately 1980 to the mid 1990s were born in families who were often very excited to have children, and during a cultural period in which more intensive parenting practices became the norm. Compared to other generations, millennials often had a great deal of support, attention and encouragement to develop themselves and their unique abilities. As such millennials tend to believe in their own strengths and abilities yet also desire recognition and approval from leadership and colleagues.

Baby Boomers in the Workplace

While everyone is an individual and outliers are always present, generally speaking, baby boomers have tended to be standard-bearers of work-ethic and career advancement. They have paid their dues both in time and energy, often committing long term to organizations they believe in. As such, boomers are often formidable leaders who may struggle to understand and empathize with the different values, communication styles, and attitude towards work / life balance of the generations that came after.

Gen Xers in the Workplace

Sometimes called “the lost generation” Gen Xers can sometimes feel caught between the two dominant generational and cultural forces they are sandwiched between. Gen Xers in the workplace tend to have had careers that transcend organizations; they have been much more likely to flit from company to company as opportunities arise. This has had an impact on Gen Xers advancement, both financially and in attainment of leadership positions at traditional organizations. However, the independence, flexibility and relatively high risk tolerance of Gen Xers allows them to shine when doing their own thing; many have reaped the rewards of their entrepreneurial efforts. At the same time, Gen Xers tend to be more independent and less self-promotional than both baby boomers and millennials and as a result can often feel that their contributions are not seen and their voice is not heard. 

Millennials in the Workplace

Millennials are now the largest age group in the work-force, and their numbers are rising. In every organization they are involved with they often bring a fresh energy, technological savvy, and a collectivism that allows them to work collaboratively towards common goals. Often idealistic, they strive for the best in themselves and many find great meaning in using their work to make the world a better place. Millennials are often great communicators, priding themselves on their ability to stay connected. Millennials in the workforce are often champions of new ideas, and finding new solutions. At the same time, some millennials struggle with self-doubt and frustration, particularly when confronted with the harsh reality of student loan debt, housing costs, personal uncertainty, and feeling that their efforts are not paying off.

Three Generations in the Workplace Colliding… and Thriving

Today on the Love, Happiness and Success Podcast, I have the great honor to speak with my colleagues Teena Evert and Markie Keelan about generational differences in the workplace, and how Gen Xers, Millennials and Baby Boomers can build on their strengths. Both Teena and Markie are excellent career coaches who have helped people of every generation get ahead in their careers. Teena has a knack for helping people find their voice and learn how to communicate more effectively, and Markie is a millennial career coach who loves helping people of her generation (and others) find both meaning and success in their chosen professions. 

Join us on this episode to learn more about generational differences in the workplace. We’re discussing:

  • Success tips to improve communication and relationships between generations in the workplace
  • How Gen Xers can find their voice and become more active partners on the job
  • How Millennials can support themselves through difficult moments when they feel their hope flagging
  • How Baby Boomers can make space for, and appreciate, their younger colleagues
  • The cultural differences between generations, and how it impacts worldview, attitudes towards work, and communication styles
  • Tips for career development and personal growth

We hope this conversation helps you on your path of personal growth, both personally and professionally.

Sincerely, 

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby, Teena Evert, M.A., and Markie Keelan, M.A.

Ps: Scroll down to get to the podcast but if you want to learn even MORE about the plight of Gen Xers in the workplace and what they can do to get ahead, check out this video interview Teena gave on the topic:

 

 

 

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Career Advice: Navigating Generational Differences in the Workplace

by Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby | Love, Happiness & Success

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How to Become Self Employed

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby is the founder and clinical director of Growing Self Counseling and Coaching. She’s the author of “Exaholics: Breaking Your Addiction to Your Ex Love,” and the host of The Love, Happiness & Success Podcast.

Doing Your Own Thing

 

Have you been daydreaming about quitting your day job and becoming self-employed? Many people share the fantasy of starting a business or doing their own thing, but can hit a wall when they think about how to actualize their goal of supporting themselves without a job.

How to Become Self-Employed

Starting a business or becoming a freelancer can be very satisfying, and sometimes even lucrative. However, as with anything worth having, these things don’t come into existence without intention and a thoughtful plan of action.

It takes time, effort and hard work to build a business or transition into a freelancing lifestyle. It also takes a lot of courage. Many people start businesses only to discover how much work is actually involved. (For example, doing your own thing generally requires many more hours and a great deal more personal inconvenience than a regular nine to five).

However, for some people, the satisfaction that they’re working for themselves is worth it. The desire to be independent fuels the fire of successful entrepreneurs, stoking courage, grit, and the willingness to go forward into an uncertain future.

The Emotional Realities of Self-Employment

We often think of cutting the cord and becoming self-employed as a matter of making a decision, putting together a business plan, and then doing it. However, what many freelancers, small business owners and self employed people quickly discover is that the emotional experience of doing your own thing is often the larger, harder obstacle to overcome than the day to day of running a business.

Dealing with the Anxiety of Uncertainty

For example, many self-employed people struggle with anxiety. Not knowing where the next paycheck, or job, or customer is going to come from can be scary. If you’re going to do your own thing, you’ve got to get comfortable with the unknown and out-of-control aspects of being without a regular paycheck. [Tips for managing anxiety, right here].

Overcoming the Overwhelm of Self-Employment

When you work for yourself, feeling overwhelmed is often part of the job description. Everything from designing a marketing strategy to answering the phones to changing lightbulbs to, oh yeah, actually doing the work that you get paid for is now all on you. Developing excellent personal productivity skills are a must if you’re going to do everything that really does need to get done.

Coping With Criticism

Many self-employed people who are leaving “safe” careers also often need to deal with the implied or overt criticism of family and friends who want them to take an easier, more predictable path. Even though you believe in yourself, you have to convince others. Entrepreneurs feel like they need to prove themselves; that doing their own thing is not just going to be successful, but way better than other options. This leads to an inner sense of pressure to be successful.

Managing Feelings of Isolation

The pressure to succeed can also lead self-employed people to downplay set-backs, and avoid opening up when they DO feel scared and lost. This need to keep up a strong front may protect them from criticism and needing to reassure worried friends and family (especially parents). But shielding people you care about from the hardships of self-employment can also lead to feelings of lonliness and isolation among freelancers and entrepreneurs who are still in the process of building a business.

For people who are running an established business or are now living their dream as a freelancer, it can still feel lonely. It can be hard to relate to people who have a regular job with paid time off, benefits, and the luxury of clocking out. [Learn more about the importance of vulnerability.]

Cultivating Grit

People sometimes ask me for business advice. I tell them the only thing that I know for sure about starting and running a business, which is, “Throw a bunch of stuff at the wall and see what sticks. Expect that most of it won’t. Then do it again.” What I am attempting to communicate is that there is no path to success. We’re all making our own way. And, something that every self-employed person has to learn how to cope with is when (not if, friends, but when) things don’t work out the way you wanted them to. You have to pick yourself up, figure out what there was to learn from the experience, and then jump back into the fray to try again (with no certainty of success). This type of grit something that every freelancer or entrepreneur needs to have inside of themselves. [More on how to cultivate grit.]

Freelancing Can Pay Off, Emotionally and Financially

However, for many entrepreneurs, small business owners and freelancers, the trade-offs are worth it. Even though the early years are hard, building a sturdy little (or big) business can be very satisfying. Being able to say, “I built this,” can feel more meaningful than working for someone else. For many entrepreneurs and freelancers, even feeling that their success or failure is theirs alone to create is enormously meaningful.

Learn How to Become Self Employed From Someone Who’s Done It.

Even though doing your own thing can feel lonely, you’re not actually alone. Many people have done it, and you can too. Even better is learning from others about what works, and the things they’ve done to manage both the planning and execution…. And also the emotional challenges of self employment.

If you want the real deal on what it takes to become successfully self-employed, you’re in for a treat. I asked an experienced freelancer, NY-based journalist Michael Stahl, how he cut the cord and started doing what he loved for a living.

Michael shares how he left the security of a great career as a teacher to become self-employed doing something he loved: writing. He’s now regularly published in Rolling Stone, Vice, City Lab, Naratively and more, plus he has a book coming out this year.

He shares his advice for how to make the transition from employee to “free” (as well as how to deal with the ensuing anxiety) on this episode of the Love, Happiness and Success Podcast. Listen to his inspiring story and get insight on how to generate a plan, manage the anxiety, and cultivate the grit that will sustain you as you make your own way.

All the best,

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby

Ps: Here are links to some Michael’s work, in case you’re curious:

Website: http://www.michaelstahlwrites.com/

https://www.vulture.com/2018/10/interview-ted-alexandro-louis-c-k-jokes-cosby-metoo.html

https://www.citylab.com/authors/michael-stahl/

https://narratively.com/author/michael-stahl/

https://www.rollingstone.com/author/michael-stahl/

https://tonic.vice.com/en_us/contributor/michael-stahl

Thoughts on Therapy: https://tonic.vice.com/en_us/article/j5zgm8/im-so-into-therapy-that-i-might-be-self-sabotaging-so-i-can-stay-in-it

Follow Michael on Twitter (@michaelrstahl) for updates about his forthcoming book, an autobiography about pro baseball player Bartolo Colón

Listen & Subscribe to the Podcast

How to Become Self Employed

by Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby | Love, Happiness & Success

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Please rate and review the Love, Happiness & Success Podcast.

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