Employer Brand: What is it and How Do You Cultivate It?

Want to know the secret to not only attracting talented millennial employees to your company, but retaining them? Hint: it doesn’t involve installing a pool table, adding an on-site gym, or allowing them to bring their dogs to work.

No, if you want to attract the very best employees for your company and keep them for the long haul, you need to get serious about creating an employer brand.

An employer brand is the brand that speaks to your employees. It’s not aimed at the customer, but rather the people who work for you. It should definitely be aligned with your customer brand, but they serve different purposes. The employer brand is meant to both attract AND retain talented millennial employees.

So how do you go about cultivating your employer brand? Start by making sure you fulfill on the four things millennials want from their employers. Millennials want what we all want: to learn and grow, to work for an organization that is real and transparent, to have their managers and bosses offer great feedback so they can improve, and to do fulfilling work that gives them a sense of purpose and contribution. But what makes millennials different than other generations is that if these needs aren’t being met, they are much more willing to change jobs and go someplace else.

To illustrate how you can incorporate the things millennials want most from their workplace into your employer brand, take a look at how four top companies are getting it right with their employees:

 

How Google Provides Space for its Employees to Learn and Grow

You’ve probably heard of Google’s “20 Percent Time” policy. Google allows their employees one full day a week, or 20% of their paid work time, to work on a project of their own choosing that they’re passionate about. Now the project still has to be Google-related, but Google deliberately allows space for its employees to learn and grow. And what’s more, the 20 Percent Time policy isn’t just hollow words on a mission statement: it’s been embedded into their company culture and employer brand since 2004.

Now a 20 Percent Time policy might not be feasible for your company, but there are others ways you can create space for your employees to learn and improve. You can offer a mentorship program, have them take some online courses, or send them to a conference or workshop like Strengths & Story which teaches them about themselves and articulating and creating value for others. When you take an interest in your employees and their career development, you make it about others. And when you make it about others, you will win.

 

How Amazon Takes Authenticity Seriously

It’s hard to go a day without seeing Amazon in the news. The global giant has found a way to impact nearly every aspect of our lives by changing the way we shop for books, music, products, and even groceries. But Amazon isn’t quite the looming Big Brother figure it’s often made out to be. A 2017 study from Cohn & Wolfe named Amazon the most authentic brand in the US. And while that study was comprised of consumer feedback, a recent two-year study of Amazon employees from Kununu found that “Amazon’s employee satisfaction rate exceeds the national average in 12 categories”. Which is a big deal because some of the categories they were scored on include things like company culture, gender equality, and diversity. What this suggests is that the authentic consumer brand Amazon is putting out to the world is also consistent with their internal employer brand.

The fact is, millennials want to work for a company that walks the talk. They want you to be real with them. They want to know your plans for the company and what your vision is for their role within it. And they want to know that your public stance on gender equality, employee development, diversity, etc, isn’t just a sound bite. They want to know that their bosses and managers take that public stance into every interaction with their employees.

 

 

How Patagonia Uses Feedback to Drive Employee Performance Goals

Patagonia, the outdoor clothing and supplies giant, has over 1,500 employees at stores across the US. But to ensure they keep all of their stores working towards the same common objectives, they use a program called HighGround, which allows employees to set goals within the system and receive feedback from their managers on their workplace performance. The program is not required, employees opt-in to using it, but it has more than an 80% adoption rate among the company’s employees and of those, most report that they prefer this more streamlined system to the old ways of receiving feedback. And what has installing this system of feedback done for the company as a whole? Well, for the last three years, Patagonia has taken top 100 spots in the annual lists put together by Great Place to Work, was ranked #6 on the 2018 World’s Most Innovative Companies List, and continues to post annual revenue growth.

Having a system in place for your employees to set goals, receive guidance on reaching those goals, and get feedback from their managers and bosses is vitally important to your company’s overall success. After all, a company is only as good as the people within it – so invest in your people by providing a way for them to communicate and receive feedback! Make use of a program like HighGround. Have schedule quarterly performance reviews. And train your employees how to give and receive constructive feedback on a daily basis.

 

How GoFundMe Gives its Employees Purpose and Contribution

Since 2010, GoFundMe has grown to become one of the world’s most trusted fundraising platforms. Over 10,000 people start a GoFundMe on the site every day to raise money for everything from emergency medical bills to travel expenses to non-profit causes. To hear the transformative stories of real people who have been helped by these fundraisers, you need only listen to an episode or two of their new podcast, True Stories of Good People. So to say that the employees of GoFundMe get a sense of purpose and contribution from their work, isn’t a stretch. For a company like GoFundMe, it’s in their DNA and part of their employer brand.

While your company may not be directly transforming people’s lives the way GoFundMe does, you can still find a way to make purpose and contribution part of your employer brand. Regularly share your client testimonials with your employees. Encourage them to ask for immediate feedback from the consumers they help to experience the real-time effects of their work. Make giving part of your company culture by donating a portion of your profits to a non-profit. Set aside a day to volunteer as a company. Or encourage your employees to use their technical skills to give back to the community. Giving your employees a sense of purpose and contribution isn’t just reserved for social good companies like GoFundMe – you can and should make it part of your employer brand!

 

Need more help developing your employer brand? On February 20th, we’ll be taking a deeper dive into the employer brand during our webinar with Steven Bellach from Bottomline Marketing. So save the date! And if you still need help, reach out to us for coaching.

To Crush 2019, Build a Relationship with Yourself

Over the winter holiday, in a snow-covered house in the mountain town of Deer Valley, Utah, my family gathered for a week of skiing, eating delicious food, and spending time with great company. But it wouldn’t be a Negroni holiday if there wasn’t at least one spirited discussion about how to succeed at work and in life.

One evening, I had the pleasure of defending my position that building relationships is the most important life/work skill any employee or person could have. My host had a different viewpoint, firmly believing that technical skills were more important for success.

“Technical/schmecnical” I said, “Anyone who gets hired should have those basic skills, otherwise the company or hiring manager would be a moron.” To further back my stance, I pulled out my phone, and pulled up this Ted Talk on what makes a good life, by Harvard psychiatrist Robert Waldinger.

In my book, Chasing Relevance, I quoted key insights from the longest-running study on adult development. Directed by Waldinger, the study tracked the lives 700+ men over a period of seventy-five years. Every year, researchers checked in to ask about their work, home lives, health, and happiness.

What they discovered supported the idea that relationships are the most important thing in life: when you have better relationships with yourself and also with others, you’re happier, you live longer, and you even become more successful monetarily.

After we viewed the video clip, I continued to argue my point like only an ex-New York lawyer can and eventually my host capitulated.  He did have one additional question for me though: what relationship would I prioritize over all others on in 2019?

My real-deal, no-BS answer on how to achieve business success is simple. If you want to crush it (yes, that is a technical term) in 2019 then you need to learn how to build a relationship with yourself.

Yes, you. Really!

Your relationship with yourself is the primary relationship you need to focus on in 2019 and always.

Want to know why? Check out the rest of this article that was featured on GLG’s website. And if you need help building a better relationship with yourself, shoot us an e-mail at dan@launchbox365.com or call us at 858.314.9867.

Want to Have Your Best Year Yet? Lead With Gratitude

Our preliminary posts on being grateful and using gratitude have been insightful. One millennial friend told me that he started a gratitude journal that he completes nightly before bed and that he reminds his employees of the same daily.   Others just have said right on, or I agree, or, duh, who could argue.   Well of course in this world we will get some folks on insta or social arguing with us, but who cares, I believe gratitude leads to everywhere!   Do you? Well, do you want to have your best year yet? Start by leading with GRATITUDE in every interaction. Showing gratitude will take you further than almost any other skill you can master in life. Everyone wants to feel appreciated, valued, and important. And showing gratitude at the start of every conversation or interaction is a subtle way to make it about THEM.

In his 1936 classic book, How to Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie argues, “a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language”. As humans, we are wired for self-preservation and self-interest. This has not changed from Carnegie’s time and it will not change in the future. We are programmed to look out for ourselves first and constantly be seeking to answer the question, “What’s in it for me?” So when you use a person’s name, when you lead with a grateful thank you or explanation of what you mean to them, you appeal to their basic nature and you make it about them. And if you make it about them, you will win. Full stop.

But showing gratitude is not about being fake or inauthentic. Particularly if you’re dealing with millennials, the other person will know when you’re not being real with them. So, when you lead with gratitude, make sure you’re thanking them the right way with real deal, authentic expressions of how grateful you are to have them in your life.

In business and in life, most of the time you will find yourself interacting with people from one of the following three groups. It’s important to know how to properly express gratitude to these people, which will make a tremendous difference in your relationships. I challenge you to read through the examples below and start and/or end every conversation you have today with gratitude!

 

How to Show Gratitude to Your Peers

What better way to build trust than to build up a peer with genuine gratitude? Try stopping them in the hall and saying, “It is super rewarding to have you on my team because __________. I am glad we are working together on this project.” Or “I appreciate your friendship, especially the way you ____________. It means a lot to me knowing you have my back.”

When you show gratitude to a peer, they are likely to reciprocate. Perhaps not at first, especially if leading with gratitude is a bit new to them. But eventually, they will. And the cool thing about this is, particularly when it comes to peers, it can lead to new opportunities in the workplace or in life. Peers are one of your best resources to tap into for new job opportunities or to make new connections.

 

How to Show Gratitude to a Mentor

Mentors are mentors because by definition of the word, they get great benefit from teaching and helping others. So, if and when you let them know how much they mean to you and how much you appreciate them, you make their day! It is amazing how many people say, ‘no’ or stare blankly, when I ask someone we are coaching if they actually let their mentor know what that person meant to them and the impact they have had.

The next time you get on the phone with or see your mentor in person, take a moment to express gratitude by saying “I want to tell you how much I appreciate your insight and advice, even if it’s not always what I want to hear. I am grateful to you for taking the time to invest in me, it does not go unnoticed.” I bet even the toughest mentor will be smiling from ear to ear when they hear that!

 

How to Show Gratitude to Your Employer or Boss

Bosses are people, too! Now, they hate kiss-ass stuff, we all do, but genuine feedback and gratitude for what a boss does for you will go a long way. Try saying “I am grateful to learn from you” or “Thank you for the assignment you gave me” or “Thank you for the feedback on that last project, I appreciate you taking the time to help me improve and do better”. These types of expressions of gratitude also show self-awareness and emotional intelligence (EQ), which are two of the most important life/work skills. And this type of gratitude further contributes to and helps build the relationship you have with your boss. Remember: your boss isn’t just the person who pays you. A boss can help you leverage opportunity within their organization and when you’re ready to move on, provide a great reference for you.

 

Try it. Notice the difference. And then make gratitude your M.O. Through practice and repetition, you will start to make gratitude a habit. And then you will win in the workplace and in life.

It’s Not About You, Or Is it?

“The highest type of ruler is one of whose existence the people are barely aware…When his task is accomplished and things have been completed, All the people say, ‘We ourselves have achieved it!'”
– The Tao te Ching

A Culture of Greatness

The San Antonio Spurs are an anomaly in the professional sports world. They have consistently finished their seasons at or near the top of the Western Conference in the NBA. Since the latest restructuring of the conferences in the NBA, 9 of 13 champions have come from the Western Conference. Until the current reign of the Golden State Warriors, the sort of success the San Antonio Spurs have had was unprecedented in the NBA [especially in the ultra-competitive Western Conference]. Coach Gregg Popovich has been a pillar of their success. Popovich is known for being silent and a bit aloof, often shying from media attention, preferring to give it to his players instead. After veteran Tim Duncan, a member of some of their most successful teams retired in 2016, Popovich said, “I would not be standing here if it were not for Tim Duncan.” While there are other elements to the Spurs success, Popovich’s desire to bestow praise on his followers [players] and challenge and empower his players to be their best are two great examples of giver leadership.

While giver leadership is an ancient philosophy, its inclusion into modern organizational structures is a revolutionary practice. Consider the rise of modern tech giants who create and foster a sense of collaboration, innovation, and have revolutionized the workplace (can link to an article on the site here). Many of them are celebrated for their open and non-hierarchical organizational structures which openly encourage followers to offer and execute on their ideas.

Giver leadership subverts the traditional model of leadership. Followers do not seek to serve the leader; the leader seeks to serve her or his followers. Through serving others, rather than having followers serve the leader, the followers, or employees, are empowered to create, work, and think with increased ingenuity and are given a sense of purpose and meaning. Purpose and meaning, both important aspects of work aligned with Millennial values, arises from the sense of freedom and empowerment given to employees to guide their own actions.

So, it’s obvious: giver leadership is all about others, right?

Wrong.

Giver leadership is all about you.

At least at first.

Because giver leadership starts with you.

Leading Others: It Starts with You

“To lead others, first lead yourself.”
– John Maxwell

When asked what his greatest challenge as a leader was, legendary leadership coach John Maxwell enthusiastically replied, “Leading me!” Self-management is often the most difficult job a leader is tasked with. However, effective self-management is essential to be an effective leader. If you effectively manage yourself, set a good example, others will line up to follow you. If you do not, others will hesitate to follow you.

Where does effective self-management begin?

With self-awareness.

What is Self-Awareness and how do we cultivate it?

Self-awareness is defined as “conscious knowledge of one’s own character, feelings, motives, and desires.” While knowing yourself seems like an easy enough thing to do – “I’m myself every day!” – deeply understanding your own motivations and desires, and where they arise from, can be very difficult. Despite its difficulty, self-awareness is an essential element of being an effective giver leader.

Self-awareness begins with identifying your strengths, your weaknesses, and understanding how those align with your team. To help you develop a deeper self-awareness, we created a tool to encourage self-inquiry. Once you begin to understand your strengths and how those empower your team to perform at its highest, you can begin to understand and articulate what’s in it for them, your followers.

A New Paradigm of Self-Awareness: The Rise of the Giver Leader

Giver leadership is, you guessed it, about giving. That’s why we call it giver leadership because it puts the focus on what we believe leadership is truly about: giving, providing value to others. Giver leadership transcends the selfishness and dictatorial nature of the old model of leadership.

The old model of leadership placed the leader at the top of the hierarchy. This causes followers to seek to appease the leader. Followers are not empowered as they act in the best interest of the leader in the hope that they please them. This behavior and organizational structure fosters an atmosphere and culture of distrust and selfishness. It asks, “What’s in it for me?” Instead, we should flip that and as an effective leader seek to ask, “What’s in it for them?”

WIFThem (What’s In it For Them?) articulates your values in a way that provides solutions and benefits for others. As a leader, understanding that it’s really about others, WIFThem, is the first step to empowering your followers. Though giver leadership may start with self-awareness, it ends with others.

Ends with Others: The Rise of the Giver Leader

In my book, Chasing Relevance: 6 Steps to Understand, Engage, and Maximize Next-Generation Leaders in the Workplace, I discuss how reframing your mindset from it being about you to how you can serve others through developing self-awareness is crucial for effective giver leadership. For example, I discuss how “We are good at solving client’s problems” – I-focused – becomes “We are curious and ask tough, insightful questions that push our clients” – other-focused. Through making this shift, we articulate the value that we can give to others. We create a culture of success, focused on constant innovation, collaboration, and improvement. These are essential to cultivating quality, meaningful relationships where everyone wins and, as we know from the Harvard study of happiness, that is the most important part of leading a happy, healthy life.

And, ultimately: Isn’t that what we’re all after?

Conclusion:

Giver leadership is about subverting the traditional, and now outdated, model of leadership. It places the leader at the bottom of the hierarchy and asks WIFThem – a model that seeks to empower followers to create, innovate, and function at their best. To understand what’s in it for others, we must seek to understand ourselves. To serve others, we must know ourselves.

We’ve created a tool to help.

Go to our site to find resources that will help you develop self-awareness and empower you and your team to win. https://launchbox365.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/WIFThemG%C3%87%C3%B6Whats-in-it-for-Them.pdf

Is the Golden Rule Good Enough?

Is the Golden Rule Good Enough? How to become an other-focused leader. We all know the Golden Rule. But what if I could give you even more than The Bible?

Yes, you’ve heard the Golden Rule repeatedly from everyone ranging from your mom/dad to your teachers, your bosses and even the brands you love. The Golden Rule: yes, it’s been drilled into your mind through repetition.

Ok, so say it with me.

Do unto others as you’d have them do unto you.

It’s well-intentioned enough, at least if we assume you’d like to be treated well, whatever your definition of “well” is. However, the Golden Rule – and individuals and organizations that operate under its assumptions – can sometimes exacerbate communication gaps that exist between Millennials and their managers.

You ask, Dan, “How is that?”

By making assumptions about others. The Golden Rule assumes that you are the expert – “my way is the highway” – on how others would like to be treated in the workplace.

“I am the one with the gold and because of that, I know best.”

It fosters an atmosphere of distrust and can further the divide between generations.

Research conducted by Pew states that ONLY 19% of Millennials say most people can be trusted, shockingly and significantly lower than the 31% of Gen Xers, 37% of Silents, and 40% of Boomers who agree that most people can be trusted.

This is at odds with other Millennial values of communication, transparency, and the desire for trust in organizations.

Managers have reported that Millennials are disengaged and lack loyalty…

But who would be engaged with and loyal to an organization or individual they cannot trust and feel does not have an accurate grasp of their values? Of what they desire from a job or, more importantly, life?

It’s clear that a massive chasm exists.

Why?

Here’s one reason:

Because the Golden Rule does not cut it.

In the rest of this article, I’ll tell you why the Golden Rule, while useful in some cases, it just doesn’t work hard enough for us anymore, and why you need to upgrade and shift to the Platinum Rule instead (see below), and the three ways to use it to connect with Millennials right now.

The primary reason why the Golden Rule can’t cut it anymore is:

It’s selfish.

Self-focused.

Wait. What?

On its surface, the Golden Rule appears to have the best interest of others in mind.

“Do unto others…”

The Golden Rule is used as a tool to direct the behavior of people towards an end that we assume is positive – if you want to be treated well, you should treat others well.

But if we dig a bit deeper, we find that the Golden Rule is really selfish and not selfless.

It is about ourselves.

It’s about “us” and assumes we know what is best.

The true nature of the Golden Rule reveals itself in the second half of the phrase.

“As you’d like to be treated.”

The Golden Rule makes the mistake of assuming that you know how others would like to be treated. And with the diversity of today’s world, how can make that assumption? You assume that someone possesses the same values as you, interprets and communicates in a way that is in alignment with your own belief and value systems, and ultimately, presumes that you know how others would like to and should be treated.

It’s not about the other person at all.

It is entirely about you and how you’d like to be treated.

What rule should be guiding your action instead? What rule can you allow to inform your behavior as a leader in the workplace and bridge the gap between Millennials and their leaders?

The Platinum Rule

The Platinum Rule has one significant difference to the Golden Rule that is crucial to bridging the gap between leaders and followers, Millennials and other generations.

The Platinum Rule is:

Treat others the way they want to be treated.

To create meaningful, sustainable results, both sides, Millennials and their managers, need to bridge the communication gap.

In “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” Dr. Stephen Covey argues that an effective communicator should “seek first to understand, then to be understood.” He highlights the tendency for individuals to filter experience and messages through their own worldview, saying that people understand things “autobiographically.”

The Platinum Rule does as Dr. Covey suggests. In treating others the way they want to be treated, we must seek to understand them – their beliefs and values – before being understood.

The Platinum Rule helps us bridge the gap between Millennials and their managers because it encourages communication, vulnerability, and authenticity.

Here are our 3 ways to use the Platinum Rule in your workplace.

  1. Guide by teaching skills, connection and value to millennials.

    We see it time and again throughout our work with Millennials. We know they are hungry, dedicated, and eager to learn but they lack an essential tool to thrive in the modern workplace: the ability to clearly and concisely articulate their values. Rather than viewing this as a weakness in Millennials, we can choose to see this as an opportunity. According to a report from the PWC, professional development is Millennials “first choice benefit from employers.” Through collaborating with Millennials. You can help them articulate their values to connect with others to create an atmosphere of trust while satisfying their primary desires.

  2. Grow  your game on Asking Great Questions

    If you ask good questions, you will get good answers. But if you ask great questions the world will open for you.  Seems easy enough, right? To implement the Platinum Rule, we must challenge ourselves to ask great friggin questions. You should teach how to master this process.  A great question is open-ended, nonjudgmental and supportive. It invites others into a conversation, seeks to understand the needs, motivations, and challenges of others, and empowers others to solve problems on their own. Some examples of great questions are:

    1. What are your thoughts and goals on _____?  Why?
    2. Interesting! Can you help me understand your point of view more?
    3. What are you currently experiencing or going through? How can I help serve you better?

    These questions encourage thoughtfulness, probe others to dig deeper into their own views, and demonstrate an interest in their emotional well-being.

  3. Practice Empathetic and Deep Listening

    Active listening is a skill. To listen deeply and empathetically, you must:

    1. Be present
    2. Be genuinely curious
    3. Be caring and concerned
    4. Show respect and keep quiet
    5. Strive to help the question asker

Active listening is about being deeply engaged with the speaker, seeking to help elucidate and understand their viewpoint. Rather than waiting for your turn to speak, you are present with whomever is speaking and can ask probing questions to further understand what they are telling you.

These three rules will be your game changer for culture, sales results, and relationship enhancement. It will create loyal Millennials and a kick-ass culture.  Ask us how we can help you employ the Platinum Rule to bridge the communication gap between Millennials and their managers.

How to Become a True Leader of People

The meme below has been circulating on the internet for a while now and for good reason. In a single image, it illustrates the stark contrast between a boss and a leader.

leader vs. boss meme

The “boss” will look familiar to most people. Like a general in the army, a boss maintains order, doles out instructions, and punishes poor performance. A boss’ relationship with their people is colder; their staff function only out of a sense of duty, following the commands of someone else with more power.

But thanks to Millennials and their need for professional development and authentic relationships, the boss approach to management is slowly dying. In offices around the world, bosses are being replaced by leaders.

Leaders take a my-door-is-always-open to teach, help, guide, and learn approach to management. Being a leader is not about authority, but instead about support, empathy, and maybe even vulnerability. Mistakes and even failure are used as catalysts to teach and learn, staff receive consistent coaching and mentoring ala intentional feedback from their superiors on how they can improve, and workplace relationships are personal and genuine.

The difference between a boss and a leader is crucial. Being a boss may make some feel important, but young talent responds quickly by walking out of the door or giving only the minimal effort required to appease the boss in charge. Both are costly to organizations.

More motivated young talent, greater respect from colleagues, and improved performance for everyone comes with real leadership. I am sure that all sounds great. But how do you actually make the transition from being a boss to a leader?

Making the Transition from Boss to Leader

One of the most important things that we focus on in our workshops at launchbox is teaching people how to become their best self, focused on impacting others, or in other words, an awesome leader that everyone wants to work with. This is an intensive learning process, but there are a few things you can do right now to start making the transition yourself.

Become Self Aware and Realize Authoritarian Management is Temporary

In terms of management style, being an authoritarian hard-ass is the easy way out. It is all emotion, no thought, and it doesn’t require you to come up with any actual solutions or impact.

And that is why the leaders who are most effective, not just with Millennials but as managers in general, present themselves as supportive mentors and coaches to their younger staff instead.

Rather than yell, a leader walks their people through their mistakes, identifies ways they can improve, and helps support others while they try to turn their advice into tools for others’ actions. These are not moments for the leader to exercise power, they are teaching, learning and growing opportunities.

This approach is critical when working with Millennials. Millennials enter the workforce lacking key professional skills, but they are also incredibly eager to learn. The best leaders use that eagerness to their advantage, coaching and mentoring their young talent at every opportunity.

Provide Constant Feedback

The days of solely relying on a yearly performance review are over. In fact, even increasing to quarterly reviews will leave your younger talent feeling forgotten. To truly satisfy their need for feedback, leaders should be providing their Millennials feedback, on average, about once per day/month depending what is needed.  We call it “on-demand.”

That may sound like a lot, but keep in mind, Millennials are also not expecting full-blown official performance review meetings either, they just want I got your back “drive-bys” pardon the politically incorrect reference.

Instead, Millennials want regular, flash-feedback on their performance so they can be sure they are always working towards improving as professionals and are aligned with their leaders. Whether it is a 10-minute exchange on Slack or a cup of coffee on Monday morning, Millennials don’t need an official meeting. They just want to pick the brain of their leader to understand how they can improve and re-establish that both parties are humans trying to do the best job they can. And attain madass skills.

Inspire Through Authenticity

Why are Millennials more interested in what influencers on Instagram are wearing than what massive corporation is pushing via million dollar ad campaigns?

The answer is authenticity.

And authenticity is as critical for effectively leading Millennials as it is for getting them to buy your product.

Authentic leaders create real relationships with their staff. They share their personal story and they listen to the stories of their people. They develop relationships that go beyond the workplace. And they aren’t above letting their people know they appreciate their hard work.

The result is that authentic leaders and their followers begin to understand each other as people with a genuine connection. Their staff wants to do a good job not out of a sense of duty, but because they care about how their actions affect their colleagues and leaders. It becomes about helping people and working together to achieve goals as a team or contribution. And that intrinsic motivation is how you truly get the best out of people.

Becoming a true leader and leaving the boss behind is no easy task: it demands far higher emotional IQ, more depth of thought, learning, vulnerability, other focused disciplines, and more daily effort than being an authoritarian boss. However, those who can achieve the status of a true leader reap benefits that make all the extra effort worth it.

Why it is smart to encourage your millennial to become a salesperson or at least act like one

Because they will “crush it” by learning the number one life work/skill: Relationship Building.

Hollywood’s depiction of the sales profession certainly hasn’t done salespeople any favors. Moreover, all of us are guilty of stereotypes.  Are you familiar with this one? Sales people are depicted as either magically gifted, manipulative or sleezy, shallow, pushy sheisters.  All give inaccurate depictions of the profession for young millennials.

Those stereotypes have seeped into our perception of the sales profession as a whole. Great salespeople spend their days driving in revenue to pay everyone’s salary while often being looked down upon or feeling less than. It is insane!  These sales people are usually the best relationship builders there are.  They learn to serve and provide value to others by invoking trust and protection for all of their clients.  They are the ultimate connectors and influencers.  Does this sound like a good thing or a bad thing to you?

To clear the air around sales and highlight the importance of sales as a profession, it is important to bust some of the common myths around sales and replace them with a healthy dose of reality.  Here are some of the worst myths about sales and then the reality of why these skills are sorely being overlooked by the education system, Universities, Colleges, Graduate Programs, and the Workplace.

Myth #1: Sales is… icky and inauthentic…

There is a stigma around sales that you don’t find being attached to other professions. We describe people who seem sleazy as being like a “used car salesmen.” We describe poorly executed sales tactics as ones that a “door-to-door salesman” would use. Even the word “sales” is seen as a dirty word, often replaced in org charts by euphemisms like “account managers” and “client advisors.” In reality, it’s crucial for businesses to develop, build relationships with, and close lifetime customers to be able to operate!

THE TRUTH:
Sales is critical to the lifeblood of every business. That should be a no brainer.

The difference in 2018 is that consumers are much more savvy and informed than they used to be. Those old, blunt, aggressive sales tactics of the old days simply don’t work anymore.  We need authenticity.

Sales today isn’t about tricking old ladies to buy shoddy vacuum cleaners.  All sales professionals have become the chief storytellers for their companies.  Their job isn’t to convince or trick people into purchasing their product.  Their job is to use their relationship powers of trust, dedication, and service to forge organic, genuine relationships with the types of people who could really benefit from their product or service.  That is about providing real value in a way that serves the audience.  Imagine that!  And it works!  I 100% guarantee it.

That distinction is important. Anyone can try to pressure and trick consumers into short-term sales numbers. But that approach to sales is so 1960. To be a truly effective salesperson in 2018 you are required to be a special and gifted person; one who can both connect with consumers and also build relationships and communities around their product or service.  More particularly, any professional, whether it’s a doctor, lawyer, accountant, consultant, server at a restaurant, or a clerk at a store, needs to be able to sell and build relationships with anyone.  The skill of relationship building and story-telling applies to anyone selling a service or a product.  We all are involved in acquiring customers or sales.  However, my thesis is that it’s not really “selling” that’s important, it’s that building relationships is.  How do we shift mindset to use relationship development skills for good and not the evil of the perceived used car sales person or ambulance chaser attorney. Relationship Based Selling

Those special few who can build relationships well are the masters of the universe (and their communities and businesses).  Not limited by age, gender, color, or religion these influencers or “sales people” are the most coveted by companies and entrepreneurs alike.

Myth #2: The Customers Come On Their Own

For some reason, sales or relationship development is misunderstood and many times is often seen as an afterthought.  In reality, getting folks to buy services or products from you is an art.

Business leaders sometimes seem to believe that either their services (themselves) or their product is so uniquely attractive that selling it will be the easy part. Their product is so great that as soon as consumers see it, they will come rushing to buy!  Recently at a workshop I was asked if it is different now than in the past and whether we can expect our phone to just ring and be an order taker.  Again, really?  Don’t you know the answer to that question?  Even Google has sales people.

THE TRUTH:
Consumers clambering for a new products and services rarely happens without an effective sales/relationship development team operating in the background.

The truth is, sales today is incredibly complicated because of the speed of the world, technology, and accessibility which creates real competition from anywhere.  For innovative products and services consumers need to understand why they need the product in the first place and then trust who and where they will get it from.  For less innovative products, there is likely already fierce competition and plenty of noise that needs to be cut through. And there have never been more people, products, and services in every market vying for consumer’s attention, all day long through just about every mode, right to your mobile device and all.

It is a unique person who has the storytelling ability mentioned in Myth #1, with the analytic and data-driven approach to crack the code of a complicated world. Those people are difficult to find. To land sales superstars, businesses must make a serious, but necessary, investment in teaching relationship building skills!

Companies that skimp on an investment in relationship building “sales” skills are dooming their business from the beginning.  You need to teach these skills to employees for customer engagement.  It works and it will be the most coveted skill of the new world operated mostly by software, technology and robots.  Relationship skills will set real leaders apart!

Myth #3: People Either Have Sales Skills Or They Don’t

Unlike other areas of business, business leaders seem to think people either have an innate ability to sell or they don’t. Depictions of the uniquely talented sales person who can work wonders with only a wink and a smile has penetrated deep into our culture.

Because of this, salespeople are often asked to drive in revenue without the proper tools and resources. If they succeed, they have the magic sales “it” factor. And if they fail? They just don’t have “it” to make it in sales.

THE TRUTH:
The truth is some of that is bull*&^%. It’s true that certain people may be more charismatic or extroverted than others and this can help them (though it can hurt them as much as help them). However, sales or relationship development is a skill that is acquired, crafted, and sharpened  through years of practice and experience. There is no magic here: people need the time, tools, and opportunities to hone their skills. Without that support (the support provided to other areas of the business), relationships will die out and sales will flounder. Without sales, so will the business.

Myth  #4:  Sales is Easy and for the Dumb Folks

When the top 10 lists are released predicting the best and signature careers of the future, they often name data analysts, engineers, developers, coders, technologists, and software geniuses. Nonetheless, as all this technology overwhelms us, it is clear that there will also be a huge need for great service businesses and professionals, as well managers and leaders for all these tech workers.  Nonetheless, why do we often think that the sales profession is for the non-technical folks that are not that smart?   You’ve heard the old saying someone who has a great personality, so they should probably go into sales, and usually it is not a compliment.  It translates to their not smart enough for all the other “technical or hard” stuff, but are good with people.

THE TRUTH:
My experience has demonstrated that the most successful people are great with people because, well, people are customers and people are employees. In fact, the best leaders understand how to build relationships at their core.  They understand their audience and how to create trust with the different aspects of stakeholders they encounter.  The reason being is people buy from, follow, marry, bond with, give to, create with, and spend time with people they like and trust.  Dale Carnegie said it in 1936, and he still remains correct. The more things change,  the more they stay the same.  In fact Josh Bersin’s predictions for 2018 will be a throwback to “soft skills” ruling the workplace and relationship building techniques being the number one area to improve engagement in the workplace.

In summary, the real deal truth is that the generations comprising those under 37, Digital Natives, Next Gen Leaders, Gen Z, Milillennials they will, no matter how described, understand this and execute it better than any generations yet.  They are smart, real, authentic, and bold enough to challenge and they will make America whole.  So what’s standing in the way of us learning how to sell/build relationships and learning that building relationships is the number one life/work skill to becoming a true card carrying salesperson?  You are.  So get out of your own way and learn how to build relationships and kick ass at sales.  At launchbox we are on mission to spread that gospel and teach those skills: knowing how to build relationships is the number one life/work skill to have and it also means you understand the Platinum Rule:  Treat others the way they want to be treated, because it ain’t about you, it’s about the value you provide to others and the impact you make happen.

We challenge the workplace to solve how to mentor, teach, and live their culture by that rule and make everyone proud of being a salesperson and any other position as long as they live focusing on building relationships..

Try These 7 Hacks to Crush Your First Leadership Role

Real deal, kick-butt, core leadership skills remain a major issue as the Millennial generation recasts the workforce. One study found only 4% if Millennials were interested in managing others, which ain’t many.

Despite their lack of enthusiasm about leadership, nearly 50% of Millennials are managing four or more people. And that is great!  The issue is that their companies are not preparing them for those leadership roles. In Deloitte’s 2016 Global Human Capital Trends study, 28% of companies report weak leadership pipelines and only 7% of companies believe they are “excellent” and developing Millennial leaders.

And that, my friends, is a problem.

It’s clear that Millennials need to look elsewhere for the support they need to become the leaders they are capable of being.

To do our part in helping the next generation, my team and I distilled our combined 100 years of experience into seven leadership hacks Millennials can use to kill it as leaders right out of the gate.

Hack #1: Your Job is to both Learn and Teach = So Always Admit When You Don’t Know

As a young leader, you may feel that you have to have the perfect solution to every problem that arises and that admitting you don’t know something will make you look weak or unprepared for your role as a leader.

But in reality, the exact opposite is true.

People don’t respect leaders “who pretend” to know everything. It is super easy to see through that charade and ultimately it hurts your credibility. Your team wants to know you care enough to be honest, learn, lead and fail.  They want to help you grow!

Strong leaders comfortably balance a combination of vulnerability and confidence. They admit when they don’t know something and they use the people around them to help develop and execute solutions to problems. It takes “real deal” confidence, strength and humility to admit that you do not know something and figure it out anyway.

Ultimately, that is the type of leader everyone wants around them. If your idea of being a leader is that of a hero leading his troops into battle, think again. What you will find out quickly about leadership is that most of the time it is not glamorous.

At launchbox365, we find the best leaders are most often playing the field, doing the grunt work to make sure their team is pointed in the right direction, that their people have the resources and support they need to do their job as effectively as possible, and making sure everyone is engaged in their work every day.

Real leaders put in the effort to make sure everyone else can perform at their very best. For every employee who shines, there is an excellent leader who helped put them in a position to succeed.

Hack #2: Ask Great Questions

The most powerful tools we have are the ability to serve others and build relationships.  You cannot do either without asking great questions.

If you think back to people who you feel the strongest connection to, they are probably people who spend the most time asking you about your favorite topic: you! Why is that? Because question asking demonstrates you care, puts you in learn-and-serve mode, and allows you to more effectively share your perspective, ideas and solutions.

Use this strategy with your own people. Take the time to ask questions and understand what they need from you. Your reward will be genuine connections with your people, and there is no better feeling than that.

Hack #3: Understand and Find the “Right” Mentors

There is no doubt there will be times as a young leader that you will be lost; it just comes with being young. You will be frustrated. You will feel that you are failing. You will wonder if you are up to the task of leading people. You might feel like quitting. It is called life.

And it is at these times that you need to teach yourself that you can figure it out. My partner calls it (“FIO”ing). Self-soothe by having the right mindset. That means understanding the challenges you face enough to ask the right people for help and then turning to those more experienced people for real and specific advice and perspective.

Mentors come in all shapes and sizes and at all levels, both personally and professionally.  Your job is to understand which mentors can provide value and at what time. That means knowing exactly how they can help you. Remember: the most important quality in a mentor is that they push you, they ask you tough questions, they help you focus on what you can control and how to attain and retain a positive mindset.

If you’re smart and allow it, they will be there for your highest highs and your lowest lows, guiding you with the perspective of someone who has already traveled the road you are embarking on.

Hack #4: Be Real & Authentic – Emotions & Vulnerability are Important Leadership Qualities

I have never been one to sugarcoat things and that includes my own feelings, doubts, and emotions. I have always believed that people have much greater respect for authenticity than they do for thinly veiled fake-calmness or understanding.

Be real and authentic with your people, they will appreciate it. When you are vulnerable and open people tend to trust you more.  Trust is the basic currency of connection we use as humans to create deep relationships that last.

You are a human and so are your people. This doesn’t mean you need to be Ron Burgundy constantly locked in a box of emotion. But you can tell your people from time to time what you are stressed about, or concerned about, or feeling. It makes you seem human, opens up a dialogue that goes beyond work, and helps you connect more deeply with the people you work with.

Hack #5: Understand and Create Grit

I love people who have grit. When you cross paths with someone who is gritty, you know it right away. They are tough, scrappy, and they get shit done no matter the obstacles in their way.

And they do it with a smile on their face.

People respect leaders who are gritty. If you want to earn your team’s respect, show them you aren’t afraid to get your hands dirty or to go the extra mile to deliver results. Grit is simply an attitude: it is about how far you are willing to go for your team to succeed.

And when you are gritty, your people will quickly follow suit.

Hack #6: Listen, Write It Down and Make It Known

Nothing frustrates people more than feeling their concerns are not being heard or their needs are being forgotten. As a new leader, the quickest way to earn credibility with your people is to make sure they know their opinion, concerns, or perspective are valued.

That is why we recommend not only listening but also writing down people’s ideas or concerns and making sure they know that you wrote them down.

When people see you actively listening and taking notes on what they are saying, there is a greater sense that you are taking their concerns seriously. And that can make a huge difference in your people’s willingness to confide in you and the amount they trust you to act on their behalf.

Hack #7: Enjoy the Experience!

Don’t forget to enjoy your experience as a young leader! If you see it as an opportunity, which it is, it shows.  The learning curve may be steep, but the opportunity to lead others is a professional development opportunity unlike any other. Being a leader will put you face to face with unique challenges, your personal insecurities, and force you to overcome it all. It is a big responsibility, but you will ultimately be grateful for the opportunity. Promise.

Go win with these 7 hacks!

The 4 Top Solutions for Retaining Millennial Employees: Teach, Learn, Listen, and Guide

As a coach of CEOs and business leaders on how to retain Millennial talent, I am often presented with the same problem: in a desperate attempt to appeal to their Millennial staff, business owners buy Ping Pong tables, kegs of craft beer for the office kitchen, free food, or setup an Xbox in their office common area.

And low and behold their Millennial staff continue to walk out on them, but why?.  

Senior or seasoned staff see this generation of 20-30 somethings as being vastly different than any generation that came before them. They complain of Millennial’s need to be taught industry skills, their laziness, their incessant attempts to have their ideas heard, their utopian ideas about work life balance and their peculiar craving for a sense of professional progression.  

Nonetheless, the great Millennial secret is that they are more similar to every other generation of young and ambitious people throughout history.    

Universally, what Millennials want is to be taught what they don’t know so they can grow and progress. They want the chance to teach others to help improve those around them. When they speak, they want to be heard and valued. And they want guidance on how to be successful from people who have already walked the path they’re embarking on.

There is no mystery there.

Recognizing this similarity between Millennials and all generations is the easy part. The real solution  to retaining your millennial talent is easier said than done and comes in establishing an intergenerational office culture founded on teaching, learning, listening and guidance. Here’s why and how:

 

Teaching Millennials Benefits All Generations   

PayScale’s 2016 Workforce Report revealed a stark contrast between Millennial’s perception of their preparedness for their job and that of their senior (and older) hiring managers. PayScale’s report showed that 87% of Millennials thought they were prepared for their job, while only 50% of managers felt their Millennial staff were prepared.

While managers are quick to pick up on Millennial’s unpreparedness, “they should just know it, the thinking goes, because the senior folks all learned it themselves.” Can you say …bull….

Nonetheless, they seem to turn a blind eye to a far more important Millennial characteristic: their desire for professional development opportunities.

According to PWC’s Millennials at Work Reshaping the Workplace Report, professional development is “…their first choice benefit from employers,” ranking above flexible hours and pay.

To begin developing a teaching culture, you need to ask yourself honestly: do your Millennial employees have regular opportunities to work with and learn from your senior staff?

If the answer is no, the time to start creating those learning opportunities for Millennials is now.

For senior staff, it means building a rapport and genuine relationship with their younger staff, a chance to pass on their expertise, and the chance to help the younger generation progress professionally.

For Millennials, mentorship opportunities provide a sense that their team and company are invested in them. Mentorships are a chance for younger talent to learn from the wisdom of those with decades of experience in their industry, to improve their skills in the areas they are lacking, and provide a sense of professional progress.

According to the data, if you want loyalty from Millennials, you have to provide them these opportunities to learn and grow professionally. This is a savvy and ambitious generation. Their hunger to learn and grow needs be fed by employers. Otherwise, Millennials are happy to pack up and find opportunities to develop their skills elsewhere.  

 

You’ve Got a Lot to Learn From Millennials

Though older generations may only view Millennials as 50% prepared for the workplace, that 50% can be incredibly valuable to senior staff who now face a strange and intimidating new landscape where email is seen as being a bit outdated and popular trends change on a dime.

Thankfully for senior staff, their Millennial colleagues present a unique learning opportunity on how to operate in the digital age.

From more efficient in-office communication tools, to new platforms to exploit, to understanding the ideas, motivations and mindset of 83  million of their fellow Millennials, the younger generation has a lot to teach the seasoned professionals in the office.

And Millennials want to teach.

They are aware that in the complex digital age, it is only those that innovate, adapt and evolve that survive. Millennial complaints about antiquated meeting schedules or dated sales tactics don’t come from a sense of entitlement; they come from a sense of urgency. They have taken part in the digital age since they were born. They know how fast the world moves. And they want you and your organization to keep up.

The reward for senior staff who take the time to learn from them? A crash course in the latest trends, tools, and platforms, in addition to that much sought after millennial loyalty.

But to learn, senior staff first have to be willing to listen.  

 

For Millennials, To Be Heard is to Be Valued

Millennial workers overwhelmingly enjoy working with the other older generations. In the same PWC study, 76% of Millennials said that they enjoyed working with “older senior management” and only 4% disagreed. It isn’t about being needy or entitled. Millennials want the opportunity to have their ideas heard, to get feedback on those ideas from senior staff, and to feel valued by the companies they work for.

And senior or seasoned staff may do well by listening.

Millennials are responsible for many of the recent positive trends in workplace environments. They facilitate more collaborative work environments, introduce communication tools that limit the need for inefficient meetings, emphasize the importance of having a sense of purpose at work, and have made CSR an essential company perk.  

They also represent a huge chunk of the US economy, “spending more than $650 billion each year and influencing upward of $1 trillion in total consumer spending.” Listening to how they think, the things they like, and the values they hold can help senior staff with decisions on everything from marketing strategies to product design.