The Top-12 Workplace MYTHS - As Commonly Misunderstood by ALL Generations

“Myths are, by definition, illusions and widely held cultural beliefs that live at the intersection of imagination and reality.  Little to we know, they often inspire us to greater efforts”

            -- FUSE, Making Sense of the Cogenerational Workplace   

1. “You have to like your job to be happy”

Okay, it’s partially true.  We do spend about three-fourths of our waking hours at work, so enjoying that time is pretty important.  However, the correlation between your happiness and your job can be overrated.  The most important factors for happiness are strong personal relationships and meaningful life activities.  According to a 2010 study by the The Conference Board, Americans are increasingly unhappy with their jobs; only 45% claim to be satisfied, while roughly 64% say they are unhappy in their jobs.

2. “The glass ceiling doesn’t exist anymore”

It surely does!  The phrase “glass ceiling” is usually shorthand for male bosses keeping female workers in lower-paying, non-executive jobs when said women can see better jobs above them.  News flash: Women still do not have the same opportunities for advancement as men.  The Fortune 500 CEO list contains fifteen females.  And according to USA Today, women still earn only 82.8 percent of the median weekly wage of men.  You do the math. 

3. “The hardest workers get promoted”

Nope.  The most likable people get promoted.  Your mother was right: Good social skills are crucial to your career.  Across the board, people would rather work with someone who is likable and incompetent than with someone who is skilled and obnoxious. 

4. “Everyone has sex with their coworkers”

Sorry, no.  Everyone might think about having sex with someone in the office, but many people allow their forward brains to take precedence in the office setting.  Here’s the kicker: Employees had the most problems with office dalliances when the romance involved a manager dating a reporting staff person.  Oh, and we mustn’t forget, the specter of sexual harassment is always present.  Most important, keep sexting out of the work environment.  It is usually banned for a a good reason. 

5. “Office politics is about backstabbing”

Wrong again.  Sure, some knives will be out wherever you go, but office politics can also be about helping people get what they want.  Figuring out what coworkers care about and how to help them get it, obviates the need to strong-arm, disparage, or manipulate them. 

6. “Do good work and you’ll be fine”

Nope.  Writer Sam Ewing puts it best: “It’s not the hours you put in your work that counts; it’s the work you put in the hours.” 

7. “A great resume will get you hired”

Not true.  Only 10 percent of jobs come from sending unsolicited resumes.  Most jobs come from people leveraging their networks.  When you make a connection with a prospective employer, your resume will simply be glanced at to make sure you have the required skills and to check for obvious problems.  Expand your network instead of obsessing over which descriptive adjective best describes your PowerPoint skills. 

8. “It’s better to emulate Donald Trump than to be yourself” 

Nope.  It’s better to be yourself and to keep learning.  As Penelope Trunk writes on Guy Kawasaki’s blog, “Figure out how to do what you love, follow your heart’s desire, and you’ll be great at it.  Those who stand out as leaders have a notable authenticity that enables them to make genuinely meaningful connections with a wide range of people.”

9. “Millennials don’t work for the money, but for the fulfillment”

Nonsense.  If you won the lottery tomorrow, would you seriously go back to your job the next day?  Work is about money.  And money is about the freedom to make life choices.  Case closed.

10. “Email is always the most efficient communication method”

No!  It’s hard to remember how we got along without email, it’s decidedly misused and over-relied upon today.  Calling a person or having face time with him can minimize confusion, not to mention, build relationships.  Without visual and auditory cues, people can often misinterpret the intent and message of emails, even if you use those perky emoticons :-) Face-to-face is number one, voice is good, and email earns the bronze. 

11. “The generation gap between Boomer bosses and Millennial workers hampers productivity and the pursuit of workplace happiness”

Maybe yes, maybe no.  Although there is clearly an age difference, we argue strongly that it’s not a gap but a “mash-up,” or a potential fusion and cogenerational melding that leverages skills, attributes, and perspectives.  If we focus on the gap, we impede the possibilities. 

12. “You can have it all” 

Absolutely not.  This is the biggest myth of all.  In real life, you can have the things you want most, but only intermittently.  That means that sometimes your job comes first.  Sometimes your family.  Sometimes you.  Your priorities will never line up like bars on a slot machine.  Chasing this dream will ruin you.  But, the clearer you are about your priorities and setting boundaries, the better your chances of striking your personal balance.  According to philosopher and psychologist William James, “Happiness is reflected in the ratio of one’s accomplishments to one’s aspirations.  This suggests, of course, that when it comes to feeling happy in our lives, we can choose one of two paths: continually add to our list of accomplishments, or lower our expectations.” 

 

Written By: Jim Finkelstein & Mary Gavin