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Rockstars@Work: How To Make Work Work For Gen Y

In an earlier blog, Dana Shapiro told the story of Brett Farmiloe and Zack Hubbell, who traveled the country on the Pursue the Passion tour to interview people about why they were passionate about their work.

In an earlier blog, Dana Shapiro told the story of Brett Farmiloe and Zack Hubbell, who traveled the country on the Pursue the Passion tour to interview people about why they were passionate about their work.

In their keynote speech at the RockStars@ Work Conference, Brett and Zack concluded that everybody needs three things from the workplace: significance, trust and measurability.


Significance is all about seeing how your job matters. How do your little, daily tasks impact others? How do you fit into the larger picture? How is this job connected to your company’s vision? The answers to these(and many more) questions provide a motivation for YOU to work at this particularjob.

When Zack started his first job out of college, he had a hard time seeing the importance of his auditing work. He turned to his boss, who essentially said that the work doesn’t matter. It’s a deterrent at best. Soon after, Zack quit.

Zack said that his boss could have responded any number of ways. “You’ll lose a lot of people that way,” he said. “The truth is, people got medical services because of the work we did. There were a lot of things we did that were vitally important.”

On their tour Zack and Brett interviewed a shipping worker who said that the worst part about his job was that he had no idea how he was impacting his community. He didn’t know where he fit in. Never mind that his job was physically demanding, routine and not the best paying job in the country—he didn’t know his significance.

These stories show the importance of knowing the significance of the work you do.

It isn’t hard for seasoned employees to know their significance because they have the perspective to see it and have lived it.

However, new employees don’t have that same breadth of vision. To help them understand the significance of their work, simply explain how they fit into the whole picture. That can give a person meaning, purpose and pride in even the dirtiest jobs.


No one likes to be micro-managed. And no one performs quality work when they are micro-managed. That is why trust is important. Someone in human relations told Zack and Brett that you have to give your employees enough rope to either swing around or hang themselves.

So, just like you trust your veteran employees, trust your newbies with projects. Will they mess up? Likely. But who doesn’t mess up once in a while? If they are quality employees, they will learn from their mistakes and become better for it. But trust allows them the freedom to be creative, and great things can come out of that.

Brett and Zack talked to the owner of a pizza place that had been voted the best in Spokane, Wash., for 14 years. The owner actively trusts his young employees by giving them bylaws and minimum goals, but allowing them to be creative and use their own initiative for the rest.


The final value is measurability. On their journey Zack and Brett talked to a 25 year-old rocket scientist who said the best part of his job is the instant measurability. Either the rocket goes up or it doesn’t. “You can’t even qualify how valuable that is to an employee,” Brett said.

One point that Brett and Zack raised is that recent college grads are on a different timeline than the seasoned businessman, making the need for “instant” measurability even greater. For the last four years the college student’s performance was measured on a weekly, bi-semester and semester basis. (A semester is 4-5 months) If by midterms you hadn’t made an A or B in class, you knew you would have to improve performance. There was a definitive result at the end of each semester. Brett and Zack said that this timeline mentality makes it difficult to adjust to the long-term timeline of the working world.

While I agree that this might make the transition a little difficult, I do not think it is an excuse for lesser performance. Most college students have jobs or internships, and it isn’t too difficult to make the transition. That being said, I think frequent constructive criticism can help any new employee perform better.


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