Insights from “The Intern”

Insights from “The Intern”

My internships included some of the best assignments that I’ve ever had. Unencumbered by responsibility at that point in life, I have fond memories of my time as an intern and the doors that were unlocked for me. So, when I saw that Anne Hathaway and Robert De Niro were starring in a film about an intern, I bought my tickets.

The Intern is a cute film about a successful business woman who gets talked into hosting a “senior” program with interns over the age of 65. Niro’s character gets assigned to work directly with the star of the show and the founder of an online shopping company, played by Hathaway. I spend a lot of time reading and talking about millennials in the workforce and the differences between various generations, so this “reverse” internship concept sparked my interest. Overall, the movie captured a lot of the clichés we’ve all heard. De Niro’s character relies on the millennial next to him to help turn on his Mac, and he readily admits to calling his nine-year-old nephew for insight into how to hook up a USB.

As expected with an up-and-coming, start-up technology company, engaging employees is a critical factor of its success. And, there are several lessons from this movie that apply to all of us:

  • Celebrate accomplishments. When something really great happens, a milestone sale or an immense burst of happiness, associates ring the giant red dinner bell hanging on the wall in the office. It’s a simple communication tool that stops everyone in their tracks to find out what’s going on. These micro-celebrations help keep everyone aware of progress with real-time information.
  • Small gestures of appreciation go a long way. No matter how big or small the organization, or the team, showing appreciation and giving the opportunity to grow is important at any level. Not only does she rarely show appreciation to her assistant, Hathaway’s character also completely overlooks her own talents and skills. It takes a few kind words from De Niro to help her see the value in her own team.
  • Cultivate an environment of open dialogue. The work environment in the office (benching) created a dynamic and close-knit culture, and Hathaway was open to feedback. At first, she may have been reluctant to be exposed to outside observations of her behavior, but fostering those relationships allowed her to hear honest feedback without any sugar-coating. And that feedback could come from anywhere—her business partner, her associates and even her intern.

I’m under no illusion that this movie is the template for business or personal success. But it’s a fun reminder that it’s the daily interactions with our colleagues – at all stages of their careers – that can make a difference both professionally and personally. As we begin to think about our 2016 employee engagement plans, these are just a few of the areas that we’ll be focusing on. Developing engagement plans that connect and lift the team requires a lot of intentional thinking, planning and delivering. The results will have long-lasting impacts that extend far beyond the corporate walls.

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Ann Camden is Managing Director, Client Service, G&S Business Communications. As a business strategist, Ann believes that strategic planning is the foundation of all communications. Ann plays an integral role in developing strategies to build and enhance corporate reputations and strong brand identities for clients in agribusiness, advanced manufacturing, technology and professional services. She also manages external and internal communication efforts on a broad array of organizational needs ranging from change management and employee outreach to marketing programs. She has led GSU, the G&S internal management training program, and is a member of the Midtown Raleigh Alliance and the International Association of Business Communicators. Ann is a long-term member of the Advisory Board of Communications at Elon University, and an active board member for EarthShare NC. Ann was honored as a Triangle Woman Extraordinaire by Business Leader in 2011 and received the Horizon Award from National Agri-Marketing Association in 2012. Ann has a degree from Purdue University. Ann applies her life philosophy of “go above and beyond” to both her client service and her training for road races.


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