The following excerpt is Chapter 8 of Fuse: Making Sense of the New Cogenerational Workplace by Jim Finkelstein and Mary Gavin.
“It’s not who you are underneath; it’s what you do that defines you.”
—Batman Begins, 2005
Filmmaker Woody Allen is credited with saying that 80 per cent of success is showing up. Apple CEO Steve Jobs said that it’s better to be a pirate than to join the navy. And business writer Hal Lancaster has suggested that getting fired is nature’s way of telling you that you had the wrong job in the first place.
What do these sayings have in common (besides some humour)?
A grain of truth and a lot of myth. This chapter takes a playful but discerning look at common workplace myths that can hamper both Millennials’ and Boomers’ peace, productivity, promotion, and prosperity.
The Top 12 Workplace Myths, as Commonly Misunderstood by All Generations
We’ve put this idiosyncratic list together over the many years we’ve been in the consulting business. These myths seem to cause most workplace misunderstandings and career catastrophes. They are pretty much in order of how frequently we experience their fallout in our work, from least to most (in reverse order, to save the denouement for the end!).
12. You have to like your job to be happy.
Partially true. You spend three-fourths of your waking hours at work, so enjoying that time is pretty important. But 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. If you have great friends, family, and outside interests, you can probably be happy even if you hate your job. (Imagine a Porta-Potty cleaner who’s in love, or someone in a so-so job who spends his free time volunteering at a community food bank.) According to a 2010 study conducted by The Conference Board, Americans are increasingly unhappy with their jobs: only 45 per cent claim to be satisfied, and roughly 64 per cent of workers under 25 say they are unhappy in their jobs. That said, if you truly hate your job and it’s making you miserable, you should leave it.
Don’t let people who hate their jobs poison the well in your organization. Move them over or out as fast as you can, without hesitation. They’ll thank you for it, some day, and so will everyone else pretty quickly.
11. The glass ceiling doesn’t exist any more.
Yes it does. The Millennials who reviewed the draft of this book had never heard of the glass ceiling. They had yet to encounter one, except perhaps at a hot dance club, so they were intrigued to learn that it is a barrier to upward mobility formed by the prejudice of those in charge against those who are not like them. The phrase “glass ceiling” is usually shorthand for male bosses keeping female workers in lower-paying, nonexecutive jobs when the 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 15 females. The boards of directors of the Inc. 1000 include only a handful of females. The recession has caused the earnings gap between men and women to shrink, but according to USA Today, women still earn only 82.8 per cent of the median weekly wage of men. You do the math. While you’re at it, try to find executives of major firms who are people of colour, gay or lesbian, disabled, etc. They are rarer than hen’s teeth. Millennials can change this, joining those Boomers who have worked to change it for years.
10. The hardest workers get promoted.