Sunday, April 2, 2017

More than Millennials: They're Today’s Young Professionals

One of the requirements of any manager is to gain an understanding of the people who work under their supervision. It’s been true of every generation, and it’s especially true today.

Simon Sinek dissects Millennials on YouTube
Millennials have been the topic of articles about management and the workplace for nearly a decade, believe it or not. They’re essentially the generation born in the 1980s and ‘90s, give or take a few years here and there. And they began entering the workforce in large numbers shortly after the turn of the century, which was also the start of a new millennium – hence the tag they’ve been labeled with.

Last fall a video went viral across social media platforms, in which author and motivational speaker Simon Sinek took millennials to task for being “tough to manage.” He listed a number of things of which they’re accused of being: entitled, narcissistic, self-interested, unfocused, and lazy. He proceeds to explain the phenomenon of the millennial generation, while acknowledging that their alleged character weaknesses are often created through no fault of their own. The video is both humorous and thought-provoking, which makes it fascinating to watch.

I would suggest, however, that we would do well to change our thinking about Millennials. I recommend to my clients that they look at them for who and what they are: young professionals. In other words, treat them just as you have any generation that has come along. Treat them with regard, and trust, and patience. They have much to learn, but what generation hasn’t?

In fact, Sinek agrees, to a certain extent. In the video, he doesn’t reserve his comments only for the Millennials themselves. He also criticizes parents, corporate managers and executives for their lack of leadership. “It’s the corporations, it’s the corporate environments, it’s the total lack of good leadership in our world today that is making them feel the way they do,” Sinek warns.

In working with companies, and with Millennials themselves, I try to help them bridge the gap between college and career. Like any group entering the workforce, networking is essential – or, as I like to call it, “networking on steroids.” Today’s young people are so accustomed to technology, and to interacting with others via various electronic devices, that it’s more important than ever for them to learn the essentials of developing meaningful interpersonal relationships, face to face.

Millennials should be asked what they view as their strengths, and what they want to accomplish – both in their career and in life. Like the generations that preceded them, they are altruistic, wanting to make a difference in the world. That’s great, but they also need to consider how they can do that in their career, and for the organization or company where they work. Patience isn’t always a virtue among young professionals, and it’s up to us as managers to help them see the value and wisdom in it.

There is so much more that can be said and written about Millennials. In fact, a major part of my consulting practice involves coaching sessions with Millennials, and their employers. If you’d like to know more, feel free to give me a call at (330) 754-5767, or email me at

Jim Ondrus is president and CEO of JA Ondrus, LLC. Learn more at

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Strategy, Structure and Culture: Three Keys to Organizational Success

There are many approaches to understanding how the workplace works. What makes people productive? Why do some companies and organizations overcome obstacles and challenges, while others seem to collapse under their weight and fail?

leadership transitioning
When considering such questions, it’s helpful to examine three key areas: strategy, structure, and culture. As we’ll see, one of those areas is often, and too easily, overlooked.

The first area, strategy, is the proverbial “no-brainer.” After all, how can any enterprise exist, let alone move forward, without a carefully thought out strategy? Likewise, no project or initiative can hope to succeed without team members understanding why it is being implemented, and why it is important.

You may have heard the term cross-functional. In management, it refers to the way teams or departments with different skills or purposes work together for a common goal or objective. That can only be accomplished if there is a clearly defined and agreed-upon strategy.

Second, there must be structure. In most companies, that will include organizational charts, the division of the organization into departments, and systems for communication and interaction between those departments, with managers and supervisors installed at various levels throughout. Some structures will be hierarchical, while others—particularly in smaller businesses—may be more collegial in nature.

Finally, there is the issue of culture. An organization’s culture may be clearly defined in its mission statement. Often, however, the culture takes on a life of its own. Culture reflects the unwritten rules of organizational behavior—the values that define an organization and shape the way it operates.

Too often, an organization can’t, or won’t, see past the nose on its face to fully understand its culture and how it got that way. But a simple examination of past performance, and the factors that contributed to the current climate within an organization, can help leaders and managers better shape a more productive and functional corporate environment—with the future clearly in mind.

How do you measure up in these three areas? It’s worthwhile—even critical—to examine your strategy, structure and culture for clues to how your organization can be truly successful in accomplishing its goals.

Jim Ondrus is a Vistage Chair and president of JA Ondrus, LLC in Canton, Ohio.

Friday, January 20, 2017

The 10 Commandments of Personal Leadership

Over the past 35 years I have had the pleasure of working with some amazing colleagues. Through readings, interaction, discussion and observation over that time, I have taken the opportunity to compile this list of my 10 Commandments of Personal Leadership.

1.) Be passionate about your vision and the WHY behind it; communicate how everyone fits in.

2.) Build strong trusting and caring relationships, keep your commitments, and connect with your team at all levels.

3.) Be clear and enthusiastic on your expectations of your team and your team's expectations of you.

4.) Create and promote an innovative and dynamic learning environment. It starts with you!

5.) Be grateful for your team and show real, heartfelt appreciation. Trust your team to succeed.

6.) Be an active and effective coach. Listen, coach and be coachable.

7.) Enjoy your life and enable your team to enjoy their lives. Take care of yourself. "Balance of life!"

8.) Share your dreams with big dreamers. Learn the dreams of your team, your customers, and your business partners.

9.) Take accountability for your actions -- successes and failures. Hire people who are better than you.

10.) Lead by example, be supportive, and be collaborative with your team, customers and partners.

Jim Ondrus is a Vistage Chair and president of JA Ondrus, LLC in Canton, Ohio.