Back to Newsletters & Articles
Neels & Company - Strategic Business Communication
Trusted Advisor
Gretchen Neels
Gretchen Neels, President, Neels & Company

Dear Trusted Advisor

I attended a workshop where you recommended the book, How Not to Look Old, by stylist Charla Krupp. In it, she says acrylic fingernails are a no-no, and I know you don't like them either. What do you suggest for someone who has been wearing them for fifteen years?
M. J., Tysons Corner, VA

Dear M.J.,

I'm happy you're taking Charla's advice (it's OK that you needed a second opinion!). Seek out a manicurist who will help you transition from false to naturally fabulous over the course of several weeks by trimming away the acrylic as your new nails grow in, or by removing the acrylics entirely and beginning the arduous (but not impossible) process of rebuilding your natural nails. Short, slightly squared natural nails are the way to go-and think of all the money you'll save.



The New Professional's Guide to Success, a 90-minute audio program (MP3) with User's Guide (PDF) is the perfect gift that parents and grandparents can give to their recent grads ensuring success in their new positions. Early feedback says it's "Cool and to the point," and "Eye-opening." To order, click here.

If your training and development budget is tight, remember anyone can listen to Gretchen Neels deliver tough love through her Core Skills Thursday programs for only $45 per session. Click here for a list of past and future programs.

Interested in a more sophisticated look and an excuse to visit Italy? Check out Angie Katselianos's new program Image Building for Professional Success (May 4-6, 2009). Early registrants save $500!


Meet The Parents

When top grads from our most elite universities received their job offers, all was going as planned. Who could have predicted that some of these same eager achievers would see their offers for next year rescinded? Or that those just starting a career in professional services would be sent packing before their third grande macchiato grew cold? For the first time ever, new professionals are seeing signs that it's not all sunshine and Skittles out there on the mean streets of Manhattan, Boston or DC.

Under the title "Millennial Trophy Kids Meet the Cruel Adult World," the Opinion section of The Wall Street Journal recently printed a letter in response to the excerpt from Ron Alsop's new book, "The Trophy Kids Grow Up." Francis J. Vitale of Norwalk, Connecticut, beautifully expressed what I know to be on many a manager's mind when he wrote:

"I am amazed that every article about this subject refuses even to suggest that this trophy kid generation should somehow, even minimally, work in concert with their co-workers of all ages and generations to find solutions and move forward for the common good. It's always the company or the people they work with that have to adapt to them.

Grow up, get over yourselves and start working together."

With a tip of the hat to Mr. Vitale, here are five ways you can work with your newest professionals so they understand that life at your organization isn't all about them.

  1. Set your expectations. The more specific the better for members of the Millennial generation, so make it abundantly clear what you expect from them daily and weekly, as well as what they need to have accomplished by year end. Members of this group look for explicit rules, and without them, make their own (ergo, wearing yoga pants and Ugg boots to the office).

  2. Make a list and check it twice. This generation lives for all kinds of directives, from to-do lists, guidelines, and rubrics to show-and-tell. Let your new employees know what it will take for them to be successful at your firm, and provide them with training and professional development tools specifically designed for this group.

  3. Follow through with consequences. If an employee wears inappropriate clothing to work, he or she should be sent home. If they fail to meet a deadline, fall asleep in a meeting, or display unacceptable behavior at a firm event, take action. This might include a come-to-Jesus meeting, memo to the file, or a formal warning.

  4. Paint the big picture. New professionals need to know where they fit in the grand scheme of things where they work. Let them know that there is a hierarchy in place, what it looks like, and what it will take for them to progress up the ladder. You must also manage expectations conservatively — career development is not always an "if/then" proposition, so don't make promises you can't keep.

  5. Stop being so fearful. My experience with organizations bending over backwards to please this generational cohort is that there is a lot of fear out there — particularly the fear that Millennials will leave if they're not happy. Here's a flash: by all accounts, they're leaving anyway.

Without a doubt, the newest additions to your organizations are bright and full of promise. But keep in mind that the tide has turned — it's now a buyer's market. It's neither useful nor appropriate for you to perpetuate the myth that Millennials are the cat's pajamas or the next thing you know, they'll be wearing them to work.

© 2008 Neels & Company, Inc. - All Rights Reserved

We are the leading provider of soft skills training to professional services firms, covering all areas of business communication.

Neels & Company, Inc. – Strategic Business Communication
P. O. Box 623, Boston, MA 02117
800-975-7031 ext. 701
general inquiries:


Email Marketing by