The Workplace of the Future is NOW – Do You Have a Plan to Solve Employee Disengagement and Anxiety?

Our clients tell us they can’t keep up because the world is changing so rapidly. The word “change” actually seems insufficient to describe the rapid transformation affecting all our businesses. And yet we’re more connected than ever.  One misstatement, misstep, miscalculation of impact and a disgruntled person’s tweet can go viral at a moment’s notice. We’ve never felt more vulnerable to the opinions of others and it’s affecting our businesses.

Not a stretch for any of us or our businesses, just look at what happened to Peloton recently. When its holiday commercial failed to strike the right note with its customers, the company’s stock dropped more than 10% after a storm of criticism helped its infamous commercial go viral for all the wrong reasons.

But it’s not just our customers that are challenging. Our employees live in this world and they are challenged by the change too. They’re also confused. Hence, most businesses are facing a two-headed crisis with their employees: (1) disengagement and (2) anxiety. Just when we need our teams to pull together, crush performance, and be stronger than ever, actually the opposite is happening. Our employees are instead disconnected from each other or with their bosses. Rampant anxiety is hurting their individual performance. And high turnover is costing us serious money.

At launchbox, we’re all about finding solutions to help you solve disengagement and anxiety to ignite your team and company’s performance.  We’ve developed a 3-hack strategy you can use to ensure your company is meeting the demands of the changing workplace. Follow along as we show you how we’re helping three clients solve their own unique organizational problems:

Asking Questions to Solve for Disengagement

One of the clients we work with had a modern challenge that needed solving: many of their employees worked in the field at customer sites while others remained behind at the company’s main office. Not surprisingly, they were struggling to keep their remote employees engaged.

When they came to us for help, we coached them to start by conducting an assessment of all their employees to help them figure out what the specific problems were. Turns out the employees that spent a lot of time in the field were having trouble remaining connected to their peers, the company’s mission, their contribution, and ultimately their own career path.

With this information in hand, we were able to help the leadership design and implement specific engagement strategies through coaching individuals and the team to create increased engagement. The solution? Double down on understanding the employees needs and then solve them at the individual and group level.  Model behavior, downstream techniques, and stand for the employee. The result? Greater engagement and increased retention across the entire company.

Helping Employees Find Meaningful Work

Another of our clients, a respected financial advisory firm, sent one of their talented young employees to get coached by us. This young man was struggling to find real meaning, purpose and contribution in his work. The company’s mission of protecting their clients’ assets and growing wealth just wasn’t cutting it for him. He was looking for something deeper, more meaningful, something to feel he was a part of and that would allow him to make a difference.

In working with us, he learned about himself, his own why, and the impact he wanted to have. It was critically important for him to have belief around his impact and tangibly see the results of his work (in the form of seeing his clients’ wealth grow) in order to feel connected to what he was doing. We talked about how he could better communicate that to his bosses in order to get some help to create bigger results for all of his accounts.  He was predisposed as many millennials are to create impact.  We tied his ambition and work to philanthropy that was created by the growth of wealth. Once he became aware of this meaning, he could articulate it as his value and extend it to his clients.

Can you guess what happened next? He got the help he needed from his supervisors to recast his own meaning and impact in order to contribute to the team. This in turn helped his clients AND his company’s bottom-line.

He also discovered how to live his own values and find greater purpose and contribution by seeing the positive things his clients were able to do for both their families and for others as a result of their increased wealth. How’s that for a win?

Reskilling Emotional Intelligence

Management at one high-end health club came to us because they were frustrated with the performance of their younger employees. They felt that many of them didn’t display the warmth and friendliness they wanted to see in such customer-centric positions.

After instituting hacks 1 and 2 above, we dug deeper to create a system of skills to help employees connect more readily to the company’s mission. We helped the employer bridge the generation gap by showing them how to reskill their young employees on the basics of customer service, making it about teaching, learning and growing. We encouraged them to train and coach young employees on connection. This gave their young people skills they could see they would use forever. It also made them feel that they had power over their own future, that they were creating their own path to success. Finally, we encouraged management to illustrate how their role was absolutely vital to the entire customer experience and that how they showed up as individuals made the ultimate difference.

The culture at the health club became one that was focused on others and giving value. As a result their young people began to flourish. They learned new skills and changed the way they communicated with clients and their peers. And ultimately, they took ownership of their own self-development and growth in order to provide the best possible experience for the customers they saw every day.

As we enter the next decade, one thing is for sure: the workplace will continue to rapidly evolve even faster. In order to keep up and achieve even greater success in the years to come, make sure you’re solving problems for both your customers and your employees. If your company could use a little support in igniting growth like these three clients, book a free call with one of our coaches today!

Deepen Relationships and Improve Communication With Our GPS Communication Strategy

The workplace of the future may look a little different, but one thing that’s not changing? Humans. We will STILL matter. In fact, we will continue to matter more than ever.

Which means we have to find a way to connect, to get along with each other, and to communicate effectively. It doesn’t matter if your team works remotely, has different shifts, or spends all day inside a single shared space – relationships MATTER. 

My favorite exercise to deepen relationships and improve communication is something we at launchbox call our GPS Communication Strategy.

GPS stands for Gratitude, Permission, and Share Experience.

I’m going to break down what those three things actually mean (and how you use them in real conversations), but we’ve also got a great worksheet for you to download that goes along with this exercise. You can grab it by skipping down to the bottom. Or you can also follow along as I take you through our GPS Communication Strategy!

Gratitude

Begin by framing your conversation with gratitude. Communication is critical and gratitude is fundamental to having great conversations. Gratitude shows people that you care and that you have their back…even when you have to have a tough conversation with them. Perhaps most importantly, it gets them in the mood to start listening to you!

Sharing gratitude sounds like this:

-“I enjoyed having lunch with you.”

-“I found that advice you shared during our conversation the other day to be helpful.”

-“I’m grateful to have the opportunity to learn and grow in order to serve you and the team better.”

-“The way you handled that interaction with a customer was awesome!”

-“It means a lot to me that you made time to show me that trick with the new program.”

-Or just a simple “Thank you!”

Permission

Before you get to the tough stuff, make sure you ask permission. Asking permission to share your experience demonstrates respect and tells the other person that you really care about them. 99% of the time, they’ll say yes without hesitation

Now the #1 thing I hear when I share this strategy with a room full of executives and managers is, “Dan, if I’m a boss why would I ever have to ask permission?”

And there’s a couple reason why you want to do that. Besides demonstrating respect and showing that you care about the person, it cedes a little bit of control to them. When they feel like they have more control, they’ll be a little more comfortable with what comes next. And it sets the listener up to really hear you!

Asking permission sounds like this:

-“Would it be okay if we discussed what happened yesterday afternoon now?”

-“I want to help you grow and deliver value to our customers. Can we go over a few things?”

-“Are you open to some feedback on your presentation?”

Share Experience

Okay, now it’s time for the tough stuff. Start by assuming positive intent (API) on the part of the other person and make sure that what you have to say is delivered without judgment. Stick to the facts, don’t make any assumptions about what was going on in the other person’s head, and make sure you deliver the message clearly.

One way to do this is to describe the situation and what you observed or experienced. Another way you can do this is to share a story of when you felt the same way and what you learned from it. 

Share experience sounds like this:

-“I’ve been able to experience your mentorship in this particular way – is that the way you wanted to come across?”

-“What you just said to me came across as harsh. Did you mean it that way?”

Have you used the GPS Communication Strategy in the workplace or at home? Let us know in the comments below. And if you haven’t grabbed our free worksheet designed to help you have great, other-focused conversations, just fill out the form below to get your copy!

Want a little help implementing this with your team? Reach out to us – we love working with companies and teams to help them bridge the gap and build connection!

Want to build better relationships in work and in life? You have to make it about others first - the audience is the hero of your story! Use these tips to change the conversation:



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Coaching and Mentoring is the New Leadership Development Training, But How Do You Create That System?

In our launchbox laboratory, we’ve had the pleasure of training and coaching more than 12,000 millennial and Gen Z employees – the workers of the future. And one thing we’ve noticed from working with this group? They want mentoring and coaching on-demand. Not old school leadership development training and conferences. They are hungry to learn, but they want it on their terms.  And they want you to really show them all the rules and systems.

As a business owner or manager, it’s your job to turn your organization upside down, listen to what your people want, and then give it to them. Start now and understand that if coaching and mentoring is the new leadership development training (and we think it is!) how do you give your employees more of what they want and less of what they don’t want?  And, under terms they will understand and be able to adopt with the new training?

Allow Them to Seek Out Their Own Mentors

You may have your own coach or training program that resonates with you. Which is great. But don’t expect that what works for you will work for everyone on your team. Yes you should send them to conferences and workshops you believe will benefit them. But if your employee comes to you about an event they’d like to attend, let them. Trust me, your people are smarter than you probably give them credit for. If they’re self-motivated enough to find a mentor they like and want to learn from, the best thing you can do is have their back. Give them what they think they need to crush performance for you. And then get out of the friggin’ way!

Embrace On-the Spot Coaching in the Workplace

Do you keep a mental checklist of all the things you want to talk to your employees about at their next performance review? Here’s a radical idea: instead of saving your feedback for a formal review, embrace on-the-spot coaching. If one of your people does something wrong or something you don’t like, correct them right there and then. Don’t wait for an arbitrary date on the calendar. And if they do something you DO like, make sure you tell them about it! Don’t keep it a secret!

Make Space for Personal Development During the Work Day

Did you know that the average worker only has only 24 minutes per week to learn something new? That’s a new skill, new technology, or new tools for their own development. So as a boss, help them out. Rather than leaving it up to them to get the mentoring and coaching they need outside of work, allow space for it during the workday. If they need to leave a little early to go to their networking group or if they can only do calls with their coach at 1pm on Wednesdays, let them. Don’t just tell them you care about them and have their back, show them!

Develop a Practice of Open and Transparent Communication

You owe it to your people to be honest with them not only about their current job performance, but about their career goals too. If you know that one of your employees eventually wants a management position or that they’d like to move to a new team or department, be transparent with them about what it’s going to take to get there and help them if you can. Yes, even if that means they may eventually leave you. When you demonstrate that you care and you show up for people in the way that they need, they’re going to want to give you their best for as long as they’re with you.

 

Want help providing coaching and mentoring opportunities for your employees? Reach out to us – we can help! And if you’re local in San Diego, send your team to one of our upcoming Strengths & Story workshops.

Coaching and Teaching Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace: Why it Matters and How to Achieve Success!

IQ, AQ, SQ, EQ…there are so many acronyms that get thrown around in business. And, yes, when it comes to developing the high performing worker of the future, the one you most need to know is EQ, which stands for emotional intelligence.

According to the World Economic Forum, emotional intelligence is one of the top ten most in-demand skills listed by employers. It even beat out such stalwart skills as negotiation and service orientation. And there’s a reason why emotional intelligence is ranked so highly – in this changing world of work where technology and automation are rapidly shifting the landscape around us, people who can connect with themselves and connect with others will win. 100% guaranteed.

But before we dive into the increasing importance of emotional intelligence in the workplace and how you coach it in your employees, we need to first start by defining it.

What is Emotional Intelligence?

Generally speaking, EQ or emotional intelligence is the ability to recognize, understand, and manage our own emotions and those of others. The term was created by two researchers, Peter Salavoy and John Mayer, and later popularized by a book of the same name by David Golemon.

According to Golemon, there are five components that make up a person’s emotional intelligence:

-Self-Awareness

-Self-Regulation

-Internal Motivation

-Empathy

-Social Skills

These five components work together to determine how you relate to yourself and others. Some people are naturally predisposed to score higher on assessments that test components of emotional intelligence, while others struggle to relate.

But one of the great things about emotional intelligence is that it can be developed and increased. It’s not a fixed data point. With the right tools and strategies, you can increase your skills and “xFluence” those around you to do the same.

Why Does Emotional Intelligence Matter?

We are in the midst of the fourth industrial revolution. Technology is rapidly advancing and things like A.I., machine learning, automation, predictive analytics, and more are forcing our work to change and evolve. According to The McKinsey Global Institute, as many as 375 million people around the world will need to change occupational categories by 2030 due to automation

So what does that mean for us? It means we need to increasingly focus on the human element: the worker of the future! Research proves that since the beginning of time and forever, it’s the people that will matter in this new world of work and we need to find a way to make them more human. Success requires new skills that teach all employees how to actively connect with themselves and own who they are so they can connect with and manage those around them. It’s the only way.

How Do You Coach Emotional Intelligence?

If emotional intelligence will matter more than ever in the future, how do you develop it in the employees you have now? How do you coach them to be their best selves so they can show up and crush it for you at work?

First, you’ve got to find a way to connect. HACK 1: Start by turning your organization upside down and finding out who your employees are and what they need from you. When you listen, when you look for opportunities to form a connection, and when you model that behavior in everything you do, you will xFluence those around you to do the same.

Next, encourage self-awareness by creating a safe workplace environment free from politics and bs. Support your employees in being vulnerable and sharing their truth. They have to be able to connect to who they are inside to be able to connect to others – including your customers. Encourage your employees to get vulnerable and do the work of increasing their own self-awareness.

Finally, put in the really hard work and engage in workplace mentoring and coaching. Obviously to do that, you have to first invest in yourself to increase your own emotional intelligence. But if you do enough work on yourself, you’ll soon be able to identify where those around you are struggling. Coach and mentor them on the spot. Today’s employees relish constructive feedback delivered in an informal manner so don’t wait for your next quarterly review to offer advice!

Doing the work to improve emotional intelligence in the workplace is simple but it isn’t easy. And it’s especially not easy when you have a whole team of people that needs improvement if your company is going to make it.

That’s where we come in. Click here to schedule your free introductory coaching session with us today. We offer both individual and team coaching to help you succeed in the future world of work.

Become the Leader of the Future By Doing These 6 Things

In our last blog we looked at how the worker of the future will need to grow and adapt to succeed in the new world of work. But what about their leaders? Doesn’t it make sense that their managers will need to grow and adapt right along with them and become leaders?

Yet in my experience managers, who all should be leaders of one sort or another, are often the slowest to respond to changes in employee behavior and culture! That’s why so much of my work is focused on helping the generations connect in the workplace – because many of the older generations still don’t “get” their millennial and Gen Z coworkers and employees!

But the younger generation isn’t going away and taking their new ideas about work with them – in fact, more than 35% and even closer to 50% of Americans in the workplace are millennials! So if you are a manager or boss with millennial and Gen Z employees, it is critical that you get this right with your team! You must master the following new leadership traits and immediately start putting them into practice so you can continue to crush the competition in the years to come:

 

Create Trust and Eradicate Mistrust

Bill Simmons, formerly of ESPN, famously remarked, “Leaders thrive when they feel creatively empowered, when they trust the people around them, when their confidence is swelling. Leaders make mistakes when they lose that same confidence, when they’re fretting about their power base, when they’re reacting instead of acting.” And while Simmons was talking about basketball, the point remains: great teams are built on trust. Period.

While trust is a two-way street, as a manager and leader it’s up to you to set the tone in the company. You need to consciously work to create trust so you can build authentic relationships with your people. If they don’t trust you, you’re going to have a hard time connecting. And if you can’t connect with them, you’re going to have a hard time trusting them in turn!

Employees, and especially younger employees, want to work where they feel valued and where they can trust the leadership of the people in charge. And leaders in turn want to feel like they have a solid team backing them up. Just as Bill Simmons has a great team of writers backing him up at the Bill Simmons Media Group, including many who followed him from ESPN.

Are you unknowingly breeding a culture of mistrust among your direct reports? Check out this list of The 25 Behaviors That Contribute to Mistrust and eradicate any that you’re guilty of. TODAY.

 

Give Real-Time, Real Deal Feedback

Your employees want to know you care. So ditch the annual review and make time to invest in them right in the moment and give them the feedback they crave. They want to know they’re doing a good job, but they also want to know if something needs to change.

Just be cautious of putting too much emphasis on the negative. Instead take a page from Tony Nicely, former CEO of Geico’s book: focus on your employee’s strengths and help build them up. In a 1992 article about Nicely, William Snyder, then the chairman and chief executive of Geico Corp, commented that, “He has a marvelous talent for dealing with people…he’s empathetic and he builds on people’s strengths rather than picking out their weaknesses.”

Always assume positive intent (API) when interacting with your people and help them be the best they can be! They have all have a story to share and they all want to connect, they just need you to show them how – remember there’s no school for becoming the worker of the future! And if you do need to have a tough conversation with them, use these tips:

  • Identify the problem
  • Attack the problem, not each other
  • Listen to, and acknowledge, others’ points of view
  • Focus on organizational goals and objectives
  • Listen as an ally to strategize for success

Focus on the Right Things

In the old world of work, an employee would be at their desk at 8:30am and stay until it was time to go home at 5pm. It didn’t matter if they finished all their work in an hour or it took them all day to do it. It also didn’t matter if the employee did their best work after 3pm. The work day was the work day and employees were expecting to be at their desk and “working”.

But as technology has evolved and allowed us to be increasingly connected, the idea that employees need to sit at their desk for a specified period of time has become less and less practical. So as managers, we need to shift our thinking to focus on the right things. Instead of worry about “how” things get done, we need to be looking at “what” is getting done. After all, an employee can sit down at their desk at 8:30am, turn in a mediocre report, and spend the rest of the day playing solitaire. Or they can spend all day doing the things they’re passionate about and turn in a rockstar report at 11pm when their creativity is at its peak.

In a memo to his team at Slack shortly before the preview release of the product, Stewart Butterfield said, “Life is too short to do mediocre work and it is definitely too short to build shitty things.” Don’t allow your employees and your company to fall into mediocrity by focusing on the wrong things. Make sure that what you’re measuring actually MATTERS!

 

Foster Open and Transparent Communication

Indra Nooyi, the former CEO of PepsiCo, has often talked about the importance of communication in the workplace. She believes you “cannot over-invest in communication skills.” And of her own communication style, she had said, “I’m brutally honest. I always look at things from their point of view as well as mine.” But Nooyi’s not all talk: during her twelve-year tenure at Pepsi, the company’s sales grew by 80%!

The worker of the future needs you to communicate with them openly and authentically. To be brutally honest! The days of org charts and companies saying one thing to their customers and another thing to their employees is over. We are now too connected to ever treat our employees with anything other than radical honesty and to force them to follow a hierarchical structure of communication. And with our increased access to knowledge and learning through the Internet, we are ALL capable of coming up with and presenting new ideas that can change the direction of the company for the better.

 

Encourage Learning and Experimentation

Which brings me to my next point: as a manager in the new world of work you need to encourage your employees to learn and experiment and actually lead. ABL: Always Be Learning! With as much access as we have to information, if you as a manager rely only on your individual knowledge to make decisions for the team and company, you will be crushed by your competition.

You need to encourage your employees to learn and grow so that they can bring their ideas back to the company. We’ve previously written about Google, but it bears repeating again: Google has famously allowed its employees to devote 20% of their work time to passion projects related to the company. Whether or not 20% time is still practiced is up for debate, but what can’t be ignored is that 20% time brought two of Google’s best-loved products to life: Gmail and Adsense.

You must encourage your employees to learn and grow. With the world changing as fast as it is, to not allow space for new ideas to develop and emerge is a mistake. The fact is, your employees are often spending more face time with your customers than you are! They know exactly what your clients want so it’s time you listened to them!

 

Stop Trying to Control Everything and Everyone

Most managers love control. They want to control the company, its projects, and its people. They believe that if they can manage to hang onto everything, they will win in the long run.

But that just isn’t true. One, it’s incredibly exhausting. Two, it’s one of the behaviors that fosters mistrust in a team. And three, it doesn’t do the company any favors to have everything flow through such a narrow channel.

Instead, invest the time to train your people well and then trust them to do the job you’ve hired them to do. Yes, they’ll make mistakes and fall flat on their face occasionally. But you are not perfect either!

Just take a look at this story about Mary Barra, the CEO of General Motors. In a previous leadership role in the Human Resources department, she dramatically scaled-down the dress code policy to just two words: Dress Appropriately. When she got pushback from a manager, she suggested he talk with his team to work out a solution. And wouldn’t you know it, but the team came up with a great solution that didn’t involve needing to expand the dress code policy.

Trust your people. You hired them, you trained them, now go let them do their job!

 

If you’re struggling with any of the managerial behaviors on this list, please reach out to us at launchbox. Your company needs you to grow and adapt. So invest in yourself and become the manager of the future!

Passion and Power: A Generational Divide

In honor of Memorial Day and in appreciation and remembrance, we thought to share some insights on how the Millennial idea of leadership (laid back, informal, and non-authoritarian) and the military’s idea of leadership (strict, traditional, and authoritarian) seem to be at perfect odds with one another.

But what if the contrast between Millennial’s idea of laid-back leadership and the traditional toughness of the military is actually just a different side of the same coin? What if Millennials and the military are really compatible when they each take the time to understand each other just a little better?

Having worked with both Millennials and leaders in both the military and law Millennials, I know the common phrases that drive leaders nuts when they hear them. But I also know what Millennials really mean when they say certain cringe-inducing things.

The truth is, if military leaders look just under the surface, they may find there is less reason to be frustrated with the things Millennials say and more of an opportunity to build, coach, guide, and connect with these future leaders.

“Can I Take on a Leadership Role, Now?”

In every fiction, you can find a little fact. It isn’t necessarily fair to paint all Millennials with a broad brush, assuming they are all the product of an instant-gratification, everyone-gets-a-trophy childhood. But it is true that Millennials are confident in their abilities, are quick to ask about how they can take on more impactful roles, and they aren’t much interested in grinding for 20 years to get there.

Sometimes this does not mesh well with the structured, earn-your-stripes military. And with rampant Millennial stereotypes, it is understandable why military leaders would grow frustrated with Millennials seemingly asking to receive their dues before they are earned.

But Millennial’s interest in leadership positions is not actually about cutting corners at all. The real source of Millennial’s eagerness to move up the ranks is their passion, dedication and desire to make an impact as soon as possible.

Passion, dedication, and the desire to make an impact. Not bad characteristics of a service member either, right?

Similar to a corporate setting, we suggest military leaders harness that energy and passion by clearly laying out the path to larger, more impactful roles as well as by creating opportunities for Millennials in the military to make an impact all throughout their military journey. These opportunities to make an impact early and often, along with a clear vision of how their future may look, can help keep Millennials engaged throughout their military career.

“What if We Busted Myths and Did Things Differently?”

Receiving suggestions on how to do things differently from Millennials can be difficult to hear for some. With their reputation as the “me” generation, it is easy to blow off a Millennial’s suggestion or critiques as just another know-it-all Millennial trying not to conform to standard procedure.

But creating opportunities for Millennials to share their insights is a chance for the military to utilize the ingenuity of young talent that has grown up with greater access to the wealth of human knowledge than any other generation in history.

Of course, there is a time and place. When it is time to get down to business, Millennials need to help with structure and follow orders and procedures as they are trained to do. But creating opportunities during off-time for Millennials to share new and innovative ways of doing things can yield valuable improvements for how things are done in the military and at the same time helps retain Millennial talent by allowing them to feel they are making an impact.  This is similar to what was shared in our article about reverse mentorship as the key to success for millennials and law firms.

“Hi, how are you?”

Mark Zuckerberg’s hoodie cemented the idea of the informal Millennial in pop culture. Though Silicon Valley was always laid back, it was Millennials who relaxed dress codes, made professional relationships more personal, and helped flatten organization structure across the country.

Of course, tradition and formality are cornerstones of the American military, and for good reason. Military leaders should expect that as Millennial recruits exit the buses at Basic Training, they may take longer than previous generations to adjust to the structure and formalities of military life.

There are ways to help this transition along. For example, making sure that Millennial recruits understand why things are done the way they are can go a long way in Millennials compliance in behaving as they are expected. Military leaders don’t need to bend over backward for Millennials, but a little explanation can go a long way in preserving worthy talent.

The military, as well as other professions that emphasize structure such as law enforcement, do not need to be at odds with Millennials. Though at first glance they may appear to be polar-opposites, Millennials actually have a lot to offer the military and other services with a rich tradition. Of course, it will take Millennials adjusting to a more structured and traditional environment, but leaders in the armed services can help this tradition along by taking a moment to really hear what Millennials are really trying to express.  Just listen.

The concepts I’m talking about are simple, have been around for years, and work with all disparate groups, however, to implement them isn’t always easy.  Sometimes it takes an outside perspective to help you see what small changes can be made to make a big impact overall. At launchbox, we do this kind of thing every day, from a personal one on one level all the way up to large organizations.

As an example of connecting and bridging the gap between military and civilians of all ages, as part of this blog, I want to mention an organization that has been extremely rewarding to work with, The Honor Foundation, which is a tremendous resource for Navy SEALs and the U.S. Special Operations community transitioning out of active duty and into civilian life. We’ve provided their members with a custom version of our Strengths & Story workshop to help them be able to translate the skills they acquired in the military and articulate them in a way that allows them to connect with a recruiter or hiring manager when they’re looking for a civilian job.  It’s been a privilege and an honor working with these exceptional people and seeing how they apply the dedication, skills, and passion that they have obtained from their service careers towards new professional opportunities.

If you have any questions or comments about what we do, shoot us an email or give us a call and we’d be happy to share a few things you can do to make a change that’ll help your different generations work more effectively and productively together, dan@launchbox365.com or 858.314.9867

Reverse Mentorship Is the Key to Success for Millennials and Their Law Firms

For years, attorneys have used traditional approaches to mentorship. The familiar, apprentice-type relationships where experienced, tenured lawyers provide advice to the new lawyers in their firm.

Reverse Mentorship Is the Key to Success for Millennials and Their Law FirmsWhile mentorship programs are common in most firms, technology, an evolution of social norms, and the economy have changed the world and millennials comprise a new generation of lawyers that want something more, and they are willing to work for it. Millennials want to be heard and should be heard to enhance succession planning and firm sustainability.

Firms have good reason to listen to what millennials want. Millennials are the largest cohort of the workforce. In today’s world, millennials’ perspective, approach, and relevance are sorely needed for future law firm growth. However, millennials are also leaving the professional industries faster than ever before. Many firms already know they need to change how they conduct management and mentorship to help attract and retain millennial talent. They just don’t know how to ensure the next generation of law firms and law firm leaders can successfully emerge.

Enter reverse mentorship! Reverse mentorship is a concept that provides millennials and more experienced lawyers the platform to teach one another about the business and practice, and also to share new ideas openly. Through reverse mentoring, millennials can thrive and contribute in ways that will launch their careers like never before while still learning valuable lessons from the more experienced members of an organization. Intrigued? Not sure where to start? No worries—we got ya covered!

Understand the Millennial Myth

Young lawyers who want to bring reverse mentorship to their firms should first understand how senior lawyers may perceive them, and they should learn to articulate their value to the organization.

The nature of employment, motivation, and service are completely different from when senior lawyers came up through the ranks. That difference, however, has unfortunately painted the whole millennial generation with negative stereotypes, such as being whiny, lazy, entitled, and unprofessional. The truth about millennials is that they are misunderstood.

Their whining? That comes from a desire for their work to be meaningful. Lazy? Only if you can be lazy and also be one of the most entrepreneurial generations in history. Entitled? More like burdened with college loans, super smart, questioning, and committed to authenticity. Unprofessional? Again, is being different unprofessional? It’s thanks to millennials that many companies now promote work-life balance, require an innovative and transparent approach to problem-solving, and are integrating new technologies.

Opportunities to learn and share ideas across generations quickly bust generational stereotypes. Through open communication, what was once misinterpreted as just a “whiny millennial” can be understood as the voice of someone who wants to contribute in a significant way to the success of the company. What was once seen as “unprofessional” is quickly understood as a new way to achieve better work-life balance.

Millennials want to contribute, help, learn, and grow in an organization. As a profession, we need to ensure that senior lawyers are aware of how much millennials can contribute to the future of the legal profession. Reverse mentorship can achieve this goal.

Discover How Reverse Mentoring Will Bridge the Generational Gap

As the world continues to rapidly change, law firms need to ensure that they remain relevant and have a solid succession plan. Business leaders who are out of touch with younger generations can wreak havoc on a company. Being in touch with the next generation’s likes, dislikes, thoughts, needs, and values is part of a winning strategy to retain millennial attorney talent, and also to attract them as clients.

The truth is, to stay ahead of the game, law firms need millennials’ help in planning for the future.

There’s no better teacher than experience. Just in the same way that a senior partner can pass down lessons learned over the years, young lawyers know social media inside and out as we practically grew up with a screen in our hands. If the goal of mentoring is to pass on your experience to others, no one has more experience with social media than us. In many respects, we can help our firms achieve our goals more quickly, efficiently, and intuitively. You just have to trust us.

—Ethan Wall, President / The Social Media Law Firm

Reverse mentoring programs can also benefit bar associations. The Marin County Bar Association was recently awarded an American Bar Association Young Lawyers Division Affiliate Star of the Quarter for its mentorship program that featured a reverse mentoring component. When asked about the inception of the program, then President Dorothy Chou Proudfoot, who initiated the project with the Barristers and Diversity Committee chairs, said:

I was looking for a way to tweak our own somewhat lapsed mentorship program to attract good mentors to participate. In 2017, at the first Barrister’s Happy Hour of the year, we had a great discussion with the Barristers in attendance about how organizations and individuals could promote and enhance the budding careers of Barristers and encourage involvement through opportunities such as featuring them as speakers, and the idea basically took off from there.

As is often in life, the simplest solution to cracking the scary millennial code is the most effective strategy: communication. Senior lawyers can use reverse mentorship to sit down and have real, honest conversations with their young talent to learn how their business, both internal and external, can better appeal to and serve millennials. Reverse mentoring provides the best opportunity for everyone in a firm to feel valued and respected.

Get Tools to Create a Reverse Mentorship Environment

So, you’ve decided you want to try to implement reverse mentoring in your organization. How do you get it done? You need a thoughtful plan that involves building key relationships with people who can make reverse mentoring a reality in your organization. Here are a few steps to help you get started.

Create Mindset. To create a positive mindset that will be open to reverse mentoring, you must start with an honest self-assessment. The best way to become confident in connecting and building relationships is to truly understand who you are and how you add value. Not sure where to start? See if your organization offers any self-assessment tools or trainings, or check out the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) or the Clifton Strengths assessment.

Communicate Authentically. Once you understand yourself and have a mindset of helping others, you’re ready to start connecting and building relationships with decision-makers. Identify a senior lawyer in your firm to be your mentor and schedule time with that person by suggesting coffee, drinks, or lunch. This is a great way to start an informal discussion on the work you’re doing, how you’re accomplishing it, what difficulties you’re facing, and how those challenges can be overcome to better serve the organization.

Keep Building the Relationship. Make sure you are always focused on building relationships. One effective strategy for strengthening relationships and building trust is to ask questions such as:

  • How can I help you finish this project?
  • Was the work I did on X helpful in finishing the assignment?
  • Was there anything I could have done to make this project easier for you?
  • Do I have your permission to share an idea I have for improving X?

Be direct, but thoughtful. As you begin to have these newly framed conversations with your mentor, you’ll begin to see common themes or challenges come up and either learn how your mentor overcame a similar obstacle, or use it as an opportunity to brainstorm new ways to tackle it. It’s a great opportunity to build positive and productive interactions between generations.

Now that you have done your prep work, you’re ready to pitch a reverse mentorship program. When you’re approaching the idea of a reverse mentorship to your mentor, remember the Platinum Rule: Treat others how they want to be treated. Make the conversation about them and the organization and not about you. Share your vision of how reverse mentorship will be an effective tool for sharing ideas, identifying more efficiencies, and opening up communication to help everyone in the firm. Come prepared with a thoughtful proposal that will help get your mentor onboard with the idea. Remember that everyone at the firm is busy and free time is a luxury, so make sure to provide the best value in the shortest amount of time.

When making a pitch, we suggest coming up with both formal and informal methods for developing a reverse mentorship program. You could consider enlisting the help of an experienced organization or come up with your own less formal ideas for starting a reverse mentorship. No matter what approach you decide to implement, reverse mentorship benefits everyone and can provide a treasure trove of unique insights that might otherwise go unheard.

Who could argue with that?


by Dan Negroni and Joann Grages Burnett
Originally appeared: American Bar Association

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.

5 Steps for You to Help Manage Law Firm Culture and Create a Succession Plan

After an amazing 4-city tour of the East Coast Association of Legal Administrators (ALA) Chapters and enjoying great people, great conversation, and great debate, I got to thinking…  What was the number one challenge that affected all these amazing and caring law firm administrators?

Well, it didn’t take long to see a pattern. Very quickly, I saw the challenges these administrators have to balance. On one side, the administrators have their partners coming to them asking (1) how do I deal with whiny millennials, how do I not repeat the same instruction over and over again, how can I teach people that don’t seem to care, and how do I teach motivation and work ethic; while on the other side the millennials see their administrators struggles and ask (2)  how do I explain to senior partners the world is different,  we are more than individual contributors, no you cannot keep your own assistant on a 1 to 1 ratio, and yes you need to shift your mindset too.

What I learned is that all of these great minds desire the same thing, a positive change to create a better place to work (culture), increase engagement, and be provided with respect and assistance to create a great firm capable of achieving so much more!  And the administrators $100,0000 question… how do I create “respect” for my opinion and “buy-in” on how to connect the different generations of employees and clients? I wanted to take time to address this question and share with you the five hacks you can use to win with the boss.

BE BOLD:

Your opinion matters a lot! Mostly, you are the lifeblood of the organization and most partners rely on you more and trust you more than they do each other. You solve all of their relationship challenges internally and sometimes externally.  Be confident in that fact. They need you. The best employees respectfully challenge their bosses with great questions, alternative suggestions, and pragmatic approaches. If it’s a challenge for you to be bold, then politely ask for permission to share your opinion and share with the partners why you think it is critical for the business that they listen to your opinion. It’s possible the news is about an employee, or even worse, a client who wants to leave the firm and it’s in the best interest for the partners to hear the news from you first so they can take action before the consequences become more severe.  If they still don’t want to listen and you’ve exhausted all of your options to do so, then maybe it’s time you move on.  You’re a valuable part of the firm!  Be somewhere where you have the ability to positively impact the firm and make a difference every single day.

MAKE IT ABOUT THE MONEY:

Use the universal language, $$$$$.  Most senior managers and partners can be convinced of almost anything if it makes economic sense. Teach yourself how to speak in terms of ROI (return on investment). Be able to communicate the value of how your idea can potentially make the firm money, save it money, reduce a risk, or create a new opportunity.  Or maybe you want to get more training, learn how to better bridge the generational gap, understand different organizational models, or have more work flexibility.  If so, remember to share how your ideas affect the “dough”. You can also try to obtain metrics and statistics as support that can put a hard number to your idea to demonstrate how much money your idea will make/save by increasing retention, increasing engagement, and providing training on client service and client development. And finally, when you’re teaching your partners the need to change their perspective with different generations, refer to the ROI measures we just talked about and how the shift in mindset will provide real financial value for everyone in the firm. Happy employees = happy clients = more profitability!

PRACTICE THE PLATINUM RULE:

The platinum rule is to treat everyone the way THEY want to be treated. Senior Partners need to understand that the world is different and that the next generation wants different things. And that’s not a good or a bad thing, it’s just different. So speak to them the way they want to be spoken to and teach the next generation how to speak to seniors the way the seniors want to be treated, and vice versa. We need to adopt the platinum rule as a society. It seems like the problem is that we treat everyone how we want to be treated, not how THEY want to be treated. Additionally, and most importantly, everyone needs to understand that this is about the others they serve, not themselves. We call that the WIFThem (What’s In It For Them?) Mindset. To build better relationships, you have to communicate in a way that is relevant to your employee or client.  If done well internally and externally, you can go back and reference rule two above and show how your opinion impacts the client and creates “mo’ money for them! By practicing the platinum rule, you can create a real legacy through everyone you touch… Are you game to try it?

BECOME THE COACH; MASTER THE QUESTION:

In society and in the workplace, especially law firms, we need to learn how to communicate better.  And here’s a big tip… We learn differently now! Technology has made information a lot more accessible but it has also given all of us the attention span of a group of gnats.  There’s a lot out there that competes for our attention.  As a result, a new methodology for learning new concepts has emerged and it’s call micro learning.  Essentially, you learn a little, put it into practice, assess, learn from the results, and repeat the process again with either a new concept or adjusting the one you just learned. We like to call it something else… Coaching! Coaching is high performance, on-demand training for on-the-spot learning. Micro learning through coaching is how we teach new concepts best at launchbox. Also, coaching can be taught to anyone and it’s equally important that coaching is applied up the corporate ladder, as well as down it.  If you can master coaching as a tool for your personal and professional life you’ll be much better off, I promise.  Teach or share a new concept with anyone, such as your kids, spouses, partners, friends, etc. and see how powerful of a tool it can be to not only improve engagement but improve relationships. In addition to teaching a concept, you must first master the power of the question. Before you can share a new concept you need to understand what it is the person you’re coaching truly needs.  If you ask great questions you will win with coaching in any direction, up, down, peer to peer. After all, it’s attorneys that make a living from asking great questions and they should be super familiar with how to do so!

BE REAL & POSITIVE:

Being real, authentic and genuine is necessary with the next generation employee and client, and quite frankly, with all of us. Truth and honesty have been underutilized in our society. If we are honest and authentic in the right way we will win!  As my Dad told me early on, “honesty that kills is still murder.”  So don’t murder, but rather show care and provide value with your words. Communication that is given with the real deal perspective of providing value will always win.  Most of all, remember the story you’re telling cannot just be about you, you have to make your audience the hero of the story.  And when possible, apply the platinum rule we talked about earlier. Also, try gratitude and humility. Any statement where you preface it with what you’re grateful for makes others hear you better. I will end with my favorite tool: positivity! I do not advocate Pollyannaish behavior but how about a good old-fashioned dose of opportunity and positivity. Anyone who is artful enough to frame communication in a way that demonstrates a growth versus a fixed mindset will always win.

With all of that said, take another look at the above tools and see if you can coach by framing issues, with permission, great question asking, and the platinum rule. You will win 100% of the time, I promise!  Teach these tools universally at your firm and ensure your culture rewards the behavior you want and not the opposite nonsense you don’t.

So go do it! Teach and train both sides how to practice these 5 rules if you want a kick ass culture.  If you need help along the way, call or text me 858-344-5811. I dare you to care that much. I want to help you create impact for you, your firm, and the practice of law.  I believe in you and I know you have the potential to make a real deal change!

Wake Up Law Firms! The Number One Perk Your Millennials Want is “Real” Mentoring

Some  might refer to the law industry as “traditional.” I prefer the term “antiquated.”

Stringent  hierarchies, a focus on “paying dues,”  limited career paths, and the dangling of future rewards in return for years of unfulfilling grunt work are all staples of the legal industry; all are holdovers from a bygone error that included smoking in the office and Mad Man cocktail lunches.

And in response to these outdated industry practices, Millennials are choosing to take their talents elsewhere.

The fact that Millennials are leaving  the industry is not a head scratcher. Millennials have made it clear they want to feel valued at work. They want their work to be impactful and meaningful. And they  want to feel that they are growing and learning as professionals. And law firms miss the mark on all of those career characteristics.

Luckily, it doesn’t have to be this way. Progressive firms are using mentorship programs as powerful tools to re-engage their young talent,  increase Millennial job satisfaction, and increase their retention rates of young staff.

If your firm is feeling the Millennial woes, mentorship programs may be the solution you have been looking for.

The Science is In, Real Mentorship Programs Work

Mentorship. It isn’t flashy, it isn’t trendy,  and it isn’t very Instagramable.

But it is  the most sought after workplace perk for Millennials and law firms almost universally do not offer it.

Reflect on your own workplace for a second: how often do you have scheduled time for associates to work with, learn from, and be mentored by partners?

Likely, not often, if at all.

Forget about the clickbait headlines you have read about Millennials. The truth is Millennials crave interaction with senior staff. They are eager to learn. They want to feel they are directly contributing and playing an important role in the firm’s success. And they want to develop their professional skills.

Mentorship programs fulfill all of these needs. Firms that use mentorship and coaching programs find that their Millennials have “…better retention, increased job satisfaction, fewer mistakes, and more rapid acculturation…” when they participate in these programs.

These programs are known by many names — development Initiatives and advisor programs being two — and there are a variety of ways they can be structured. But they all aim to connect young talent with senior staff in a structured way that allows all generations to ask questions, transfer knowledge, and improve each other as professionals

So what do these programs look like in action? Below are a few ways firms are integrating mentorship in their workplace culture.

Traditional Mentoring

Traditional mentoring is essentially the apprenticeship model that has been used throughout human history.

Young talent at your firm is teamed up with senior staff to work on projects together and allow the mentee to see how work at higher levels is done.

Your young talent sees firsthand how a senior partner thinks and problem solves, they experience the daily challenges a partner faces, how partners grow the business, the way they deal with clients, and they work on projects that are more substantial than the ones an associate may be tasked to do on their own.

These programs are simple in theory, but execution can be challenging for those who have never created an effective mentorship program before. Busy schedules make it difficult for participants to stick with the program. Consistently tracking and measuring progress can be difficult without proper tools and procedures in place.  And without any way for the program to gain real traction, results often end up disappointing or nonexistent.

At launchbox, we know these challenges well, allowing us to design programs that specifically avoid these shortfalls from the start. Making sure both parties understand program expectations, setting aside formally scheduled times for the program, and helping to fully-integrate the program into the workplace culture have yielded powerful results for our clients.

Mentoring Networks

Mentoring networks are version 2.0 of traditional mentoring.

To create a mentorship network, you take the traditional 1-on-1 mentorship model and expand it to a diverse network of peers and mentors that a single associate can reach out to. An ecosystem is created that is integrated into the culture of the firm where associates have a network of contacts that they can contact for advice, support, and guidance.

Platforms like LinkedIn, Google Groups, and Slack have made these networks exponentially more powerful. Facilitated by program leaders, mentees can form important professional networks with senior partners across a single firm or industry at large, regardless of their physical locations and increasingly less dependent on time availability.

Studies show that adding additional mentors increases the benefits young talents reap from mentorship. With multiple mentors, mentees experience greater career satisfaction, higher retention rates, and far greater career prospects than those placed in a traditional mentorship model. They also receive more well-rounded mentorship, including both “psychosocial” and career support from multiple perspectives.

The problem for most firms is that executing these ecosystems is difficult.

Mentoring programs span an entire network of people, increasing their complexity and requiring full integration in your firm’s company culture.

At launchbox, we have seen the difficulties firms face that come to us with a mentoring network program they have implemented  on their own without the right infrastructure in place. The results are underwhelming.

But firms whose programs we have helped design and execute have seen the power programs like mentoring networks have not just for their young talent, but their senior staff as well.

Reverse Mentorship  Programs

Thanks in part to the constant headlines about Millennials being ill-prepared, self-entitled, and whiny, you wouldn’t think that a Millennial associate would have much to offer an experienced partner.

But they do. If partners are willing to listen.

Reverse mentorship programs flip the traditional model of mentorship on its head. Associates are given the opportunity to teach and mentor partners in the latest theories in law, cutting edge digital tools, and platforms to help improve client and staff experiences alike, and generally catch them up on the last 20 years.

And more often than not, partners enjoy these opportunities as much as their younger colleagues. They get a real kick out of connecting with younger talent in the firm and learning how younger generations approach their work.

To see the potential impact a reverse mentorship can have on a firm, look no further than Marin County Bar Association Barristers “Reverse Mentoring” program that was recently awarded an Affiliate Star of the Quarter. It is a perfect example of a program that was well thought out, structured, and executed.

Whether or not they want to admit it, law firms are at a fork in the road. Down one path, firms maintain the status quo and watch as young, energetic, highly educated talent continues to walk out of the door.

Firms need to join progressive industries like technology and begin to listen to the wants and needs of the younger generation.

The old way is easier, but leaves the future of the profession less certain. Embracing a new approach to mentorship takes thought and effort, but leaves hope for the industry to evolve and survive.

It is now up individual firms and industry leaders to decide which route to take.

Interested in implementing one of the programs mentioned above? Contact us at 858.314.9867 or info@launchbox365.com.