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Millennials are Changing the Workplace

Millennials are Changing the Workplace

TAKE NOTE(Insights into SAP solutions and EmergingTechnology)

Is there really no dignity?

Generational differences have always influenced the workplace. There’s nothing new there. But with Millennials running rampant across corporate America, that influence is creeping into our private spaces. Into our homes. Into our bedrooms.

Into our closets.

Yes, millions of Gen X’ers like me are faced with a new daily dilemma. Or rather, a new version of an old dilemma.

When my husband and I began our careers, we both struggled with looking very young. To be taken seriously, we endeavored to emulate our elder Baby Boomer colleagues in a very fundamental way – we dressed like them. That meant pressed suits, sensible shoes, conservative hairstyles.

Today, our overlooked generation of just 46 million, is sandwiched between the soon-but-not-yet-retired 80 million Boomers and their 78 million children, our peppy younger Millennial colleagues. The pressure for emulation has begun to hit us from the other end.

Especially in tech, creative fields and any kind of start-up, there is an uneasy new reality for 40-something managers and executives: to be taken seriously by the most powerful generation since the Boomers, we need to wear jeans, sneakers and hipster t-shirts.

To keep up, dress down

I checked in with a number of friends and colleagues, all fellow Gen X’ers (born 1961-1981), to see how far and wide this trend might be extending.

Rob Green, 46, just started as a Director at Amazon in Seattle after 20 years at Oracle. In addition to learning a new role, he’s also figuring out what to wear to work.

“I started my career wearing a suit and tie, then moved to khaki slacks with a button down shirt and navy blazer,” Rob told me. “Now, I wear jeans and t-shirts to look relevant to these young kids at work who are smart as whips and can assimilate information at an incredible rate. Wear a suit and you’re dismissed as someone who can’t keep up.”

Here in Silicon Valley, Brynna Donn, 44, a long-time friend who’s amongthe few deeply technical women executives in IT, echoed Rob’s sentiment as she described her experience at Yahoo. “There’s a lot of pressure to look young and hip. Yahoo is crawling with Millennials, which is awesome because they are super creative, but the pressure is really high not look old and out of touch.”

OK, but so what? We used to dress older and now we dress younger. Does it make any difference to what we do?

Is there a connection between dress code and creativity?

According to some, yes.

Robert Todd who lives in DC and works in New York, worked at McKinsey before joining the company ?WHAT IF! Innovation, a high-end boutique consultancy that helps companies unlock their innovation potential.

Robert, his firm’s Technology Director, says that dressing formally can constrain innovative thinking. When clients are really stuck on a challenge, a more casual dress code can sometimes help. Not only that, he suggests that companies with the most liberal approach to workplace attire are some of the most innovative.

But, he cautioned, shedding one’s corporate “uniform,” which for many convey status and hierarchy, can be stressful, especially for men. Robert advises clients to stay stylish and sharp, even if they’re letting go of dressing up.

What’s a Gen X’er to do?

Folks in the workplace have always had to adjust to subsequent generations barging in and demanding, to one degree or another, acquiescence to a new set of values, priorities and norms.

For Generation X, it can often feel like we never really got to issue those demands. We modeled ourselves after our managers and now that we ARE the managers we’re modeling ourselves after our direct reports.

What remains to be seen is the longer-term impact of adjusting to a larger and more powerful age group alongside whom we work and be productive. Now that this age group is younger, new questions of boundaries are emerging.

Should we hold our ground? Wear what we think befits our role? Are we like parents trying too hard to be their kids’ friends? What message do we send them by changing our image to match theirs?

I welcome your musings, opinions and predictions.

This story, “Perhaps the Most Surprising Way Millennials are Changing the Workplace” was originally published at SAP Business Trends.



UNDER DEVELOPMENT(Information for ABAP Developers)

Why Every Functional Consultant Should learn how to use the Debugger…

This month we will look at one common scenario that may cause you to need the debugger. Let’s start with Standard SAP Messages.

Please understand that for teaching purposes, I am using a VERY SIMPLE example, but the idea behind it applies to more complex transactions as well. Let’s get started!

Your are executing a simple PO Browse using ME23 and you get an error message explaining that the PO you entered does not exist. You are not sure why this message has appeared, and there is no long text available in the message.

You want to know why the SAP system has sent this error, so you need to debug the logic for this message. So lets use what we have learned. To activate the debugger enter transaction /h in the command prompt. Go ahead and enter your PO number and press Enter. We will be at the debugging screen (see below)



Q&A(Post your questions to Facebook or Twitter and get your Questions answered)

Q. As a developer I seem to be always creating transports that are Workbench requests. What is the difference between Customizing and Workbench request?

A. This doesn’t surprise me.

A workbench request is client independent whereas a Customizing request is client dependent. Changes to development objects such as Reports, Function Modules, Data Dictionary objects etc. fall under Workbench requests.

Changes in SPRO / IMG that define system behavior fall under customizing requests. An example would be ‘defining number ranges’ in SPRO.

In short, generally a developer would end up creating a Workbench request and a Functional Consultant would create a Customizing request.


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