February 7, 2022

Surviving as a Millennial Manager in the Corporate World with Emily Tsitrian

This week on The Winning Zone, Emily Tsitrian, author, speaker, coach, and professional services leader at Stripe, joins Hilmon Sorey to talk about her new book, ‘Make Me the Boss,’ and discuss how first-time millennial managers can survive and thrive in corporate America today. 

Make Me the Boss

After working in a couple of different managerial positions, Emily begins by telling us that the inspiration for her book ‘Make Me the Boss’ came from her realization that something was missing from the market - a survival guide for first-time people managers working the tech space in corporate America, particularly millennials. Continue listening at 00:58.

A Strategic Career Path

Emily has created a very strategic career path. She believes in building a career pyramid. She feels it is important to have a strong foundation in a number of different disciplines and industries in order to gain relevance, experience, and knowledge. She also explains that she likes to make money, so she began chasing industries that are in a transformation time. Listen at 03:12 to learn more. 

A New Era

Emily acknowledges the stereotype that millennials (and gen z) have expectations that are unrealistic regarding what they should be making and how they should be advancing; however, she explains that this is only true to a certain extent. What millennials and gen z want out of their career is just different than previous generations. Their values and the way they live their lives is just different. What they want out of their career is more than just a salary- they want a complete, immersive experience. They want something that they can be really proud of. Listen at 05:21 to learn more. 

The Struggle is Real

In her book, Emily talks about two buckets of things. One of them is filled with tactical things that you have to learn right away to keep the office running. The other one is filled with the more personal growth, relational things that do happen right away, but you may not realize them immediately. One of the things that falls into this second bucket is the shift in relationships that happens when you become a boss. It can be very difficult to navigate, and can often lead to isolation and burnout, especially for millennials who get most of their social needs met in the work place. Continue listening at 08:28 to learn more. 

A Fair Shake

Once people realize you are a hiring manager, they, especially friends, start reaching out for you to hire them, and you, as the hiring manager have this deep instinct to hire them. However, Emily advises new managers to avoid that temptation and make sure you are giving a fair shake to everybody, not just the people you have a personal relationship with. Learn more about Emily’s thoughts on this and how to avoid making this mistake at 11:29.

Combating Isolation and Burnout

Millennials seem to have the weight of the world on their shoulders. They are the most burned out generation in the workforce. Emily explains that, to combat this, it is important to build a new network with your new found peer group. In order to do this, you must look at an org chart because, once you are a manager, the people who were once your peers are no longer your peers. Emily says you need to look at the org chart and pull in the people that are to the left and right of you and keep them close to you as peers, confidants, and coaches. You have to manage across, not just up and down, and Emily feels that managing across is incredibly overlooked. Listen at 13:16 to learn more and find out Emily’s tip for managing across. 

Managing Imposter Syndrome

Imposter syndrome occurs when you have an intrusive thought regarding not being good enough. Emily feels that you should not be afraid if imposter syndrome starts to creep up on you, as it means you are putting yourself out there and taking risks. In trying to manage imposter syndrome, it is important to get feedback about what you are and are not doing well at; factual information from people that you trust. And this is where that network of peers and confidants that you pulled in from the left and the right of the org chart come in. The other part of managing imposter syndrome is to have humility and humbleness; don’t be overconfident to the point of hubris. Listen at 16:33 to learn more. 

Aspiring to a Management Position

If you are someone who is aspiring to a management position, Emily pleads that you tell your manager, tell other managers that you know, that you are interested in it. This way they have it in their head that you want it. They will start to watch you and see all the things you do that make you a good fit. Make your intention clear; it will put you on the map. Keep listening at 19:07 to find out what else you can do to move forward as an aspiring manager.

Identifying Talent

When serving her team and trying to identify who could take her place as a manager, Emily paints a picture of a whole team trying to unclog a shower drain. She describes the different roles that people naturally assume in that situation- the person that is throwing out ideas, the person that walks away because this job is not in their wheelhouse, and finally the person that just sticks their hand down the drain and grabs the hairball and exclaims that the problem has been taken care of. It is that person, the one who gets in there and does the dirty work and makes sure everyone knows that they did it, that is going to make a good manager. Listen at 21:10 to learn more.

The Upside

While there is a lot of isolation and difficult work to be done as a manager, it is not all bad. Emily strongly feels that it is an incredible, powerful gift to be in a managerial position. She explains that being responsible for the career progression and well-being of someone else’s life is far more fulfilling and satisfying than any sort of personal advancement, and if your intrinsic reward system is oriented that way, that is what makes a good manager. Listen at 23:02 to learn more. 

The Way of the Future

We are living in an age of remote work and everything on Zoom. We are losing the in-person time, and this is something we have to accept. However, there are other ways, in this new era, to be intimate with each other’s lives from a remote standpoint. We must be intentional about finding something to connect on in addition to all of the work stuff. Continue listening at 26:38 to learn more.

Anyone who wants to connect can reach Emily via her website at emilytsitrian.com

Key Snippets

00:58 ‘Make Me the Boss’

03:12 A Strategic Career Path

05:21 A New Era

08:28 The Struggle is Real

11:29 A Fair Shake

13:16 Combating Isolation and Burnout

16:33 Managing Imposter Syndrome

19:07 Aspiring to a Management Position

21:10 Identifying Talent

23:02 The Upside

26:38 The Way of the Future

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