The Platinum Rule: A Road to Connecting and Growing Millennials

Recently I had the honor and privilege to be interviewed by Phil Blair from Manpower on UCTV.  We had a thoughtful and fun conversation on how companies and individuals can better understand millennials and how to hire them with more clarity and intention.  Here are the top 4 things that came from our chat and things you should keep in mind to accelerate along the learning curve to better understand how to maximize your engagement with millennials.

Each Side is Accountable

In order for the workplace to really create results, both sides, the millennials and managers, need to become next-generation leaders and be able to bridge the communication gap.  It works best when both sides are held accountable for doing so.  Managers must take second to ask the Millennial what kind of feedback or training would help them the most to success in their role.  And vice versa, Millennials must also be accountable for sharing their value and the question to their manager; how can I best serve you?

Technology Changed Everything

Technology has changed the way newer generations receive, process, and share information.  Information is on-demand and available whenever a Millennial wants it.  This has led to a faster pace of life that Millennials are naturally more comfortable with.  As such, Millennials have an expectation that everything should be available and accessible when they want it and how they want it.  If you’re aware that this need and expectation exists and if you’re able to provide information to them when they want it they’ll more favorably respond to you.

Help Millennials Articulate Their Value

Millennials are amazing, they just have a difficult time articulating their value.  Be their guide and help them learn how to tell their story and articulate value to your internal and external customers.  It’s actually easy to train millennials to share their story better. We’ve done it 10,000 times, but they need your help to do so.  Be available to give them the tools they need to be able to communicate about themselves that shares how their skills provide value to others and show them how to make it about others, not themselves.  The solution is to teach them how to build better relationships.  These skills are not being taught it in high school, college, and definitely not in the workplace because everyone assumes you should know how to build relationships once you get a job.  Let’s stop complaining that they don’t have the skills to build relationships and guide them to do so!

Shift Your Mindset

The stereotypical manager perspective is I have the gold (control your salary) I make the rules.  Both sides, the manager and the millennial, need to adopt the platinum rule.  Treat others how THEY want to be treated.  Both sides need to understand the other’s perspective and treat them in a way that best serves them.  Use the platinum rule, regardless if you believe you control the gold and control the rules.  To have a good culture everyone must treat one another with respect.  This will also increase Millennial retention.  If you can shift your mindset about millennials and understand that they’re not bad, they’re just different.  Another good idea to build a stronger culture of inclusion for Millennials is to incorporate them into your sphere of influence and treat them as a peer and listen to their ideas.  See our blog on how real mentoring is helping connect the generations.  You can also apply the kaizen approach to spark engagement and conversations from both sides.  Progressive companies understand these approaches.  For example, they don’t just offer food and travel options because millennials demand it and it keeps everyone at work longer (that’s part of it), they do so because it increases productivity and builds a stronger culture when people are congregating more often.  People are social beings.  Providing opportunities for communication and collaboration by bringing people together in casual settings helps build a stronger culture that attracts Millennials.

At the end of the day, the key to successfully managing the increase in multi-generational interactions is strong communication skills.  Furthermore, 80% of jobs found are through people you know.  It’s becoming more critical than ever to learn how to build strong communication skills to build the relationships that’ll get you and your team of millennials to the next level.

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!

Millennials are the Power! Are we safe yet? You bet we are!

Millennials are no longer happy with the stereotypes attributed to them over the past decade. They and their fast growing Gen Z counterparts have had it with labels.  As a matter of fact, most millennials don’t even want to be called millennials. They are exiting their cocoon of their early 20s and headed towards full-blown adulthood, ready to take us on.  Good for them! We need them.

They have been derided for being entitled and self-absorbed. However, millennials are now a little older, a little wiser, and making their way up the corporate ladder as they become comfortable in their own skin. They are taking on leadership roles as professionals, shedding their student loan debt, buying homes, starting families, and planning for the less-distant future.

What does this mean for the millennial generation and for all of us?  A lot! What defining characteristics of their generation will stay and what will change as they evolve?  And what aspects of their generational culture will they bring with them into their 30s, 40s, 50s, and beyond?

What Will Stay the Same

Millennials Will Stay Frugal

You know your grandfather who hasn’t bought a new pair of underwear since 1967 and he only bought them because your grandma threatened to leave him if he didn’t? Of course you do, that is almost everyone’s grandpa!

The point is, old habits die hard. And after almost two decades of scrapping their way out of student debt, millennials are sure to bring their frugal mindset that has helped them survive (days of living on Ramen and Oreos) with them into adulthood and beyond.

In their 20s and 30s, millennials have shown that a good deal beats all else. Nothing—not brand recognition, not social cache—will distract them from an opportunity to save a few bucks and not be wasteful. What they do love is customer loyalty programs, price matching, and any other cost-slashing schemes that can provide value to them and to the world.

They hate to waste, like to recycle, always turn the lights off, save water, and care about the future of the world.

Much like your grandfather’s underwear, we expect millennials to proudly take these frugal and waste prevention traits well into their twilight years.

Seamless Work Life Balance

When millennials finally take the reins over the workplace, you can expect work life balance—a la Scandinavian countries–to be a priority. Paid maternity, flexible working hours, working remotely, paid vacations, and child care allowances are only going to become more prevalent as these types of benefits shift from office perks to office requirements.

Employers who are interested in attracting top talent should heed the early signs of this trend now and begin making preparations for the inevitable. What is currently the low grumble of a large minority will soon be the majority of workplaces as millennials expect that their life and work be integrated as seamlessly as possible. Employers who orient themselves in this way will win out, leaving those too stubborn or unwilling to change in the dust.

Experience-Focused

Millennials have never been much for the designer brands and the social cache that comes from spending on material goods. Instead, they have always chosen to spend on experiences.

According to a study conducted by Harris,  3 out of 4 millennials would prefer to spend on an experience than on a material good and 77% report their best memories are from enjoying a live event. That is about a strong a preference as any.

We see this trend of experiential spending continuing into the future. Millennials will continue to use their money for experiences: travel, outdoor adventures, live music, craft beer and coffee, and other experiential spending.

How Millennials Will Change

They Will Become Slightly More Conservative

Like any generation, what starts out as a group of hippies hell-bent on changing the world ends up looking more like an Intel staff photo from 1985. As they get older, generations tend to become a little more conservative, a little less interested in challenging norms, and a little weary of younger generations.

We foresee millennials going a similar route. They will likely reel in their liberal values a bit, staying more liberal than their parents but more conservative than their children’s generation. This will mean that millennials will likely face the same predicament when they become senior staff that Boomers have when facing millennials: large generational gaps…

They Will Have Families… Finally!

With the last student loan payments lifted off their shoulders, millennials will enjoy the sweet, sweet victory of moving out of their parent’s homes… and taking on a home mortgage.

Though millennials are well behind their parents timeline to adulthood, early indications suggest that they will head down more conventional paths. This will, finally, include buying homes, becoming proactive over their finances, and having children.

Reaching the milestones of homeownership and parenthood will also mean millennials will be making equally adult-like purchases. For certain sectors, this will mean 80 million new customers and some sectors are already looking to corner the market. For example, Home Depot has begun providing tutorials focused around first time homeowners. Banks have also caught on, using their brick and mortar locations to provide personalized finance advice to its millennial customers who are realizing the importance of personal finance for the first time.

From Mentee to Mentor

Millennials entered the workforce as a generation that had a unique craving for learning, professional development, and opportunities to glean wisdom from more senior staff. These now young and energetic mentees will slowly replace their mentors. The millennials will become the mentors to Gen Z and the generations that follow. And we expect them to do a good job of it. After all, millennials were the generation that famously placed professional development above salary in terms of workplace perks. We don’t foresee this group pulling up the ladder behind them.

Millennials are a force to be reckoned with as more and more enter full-on adulthood. Such a large group of people hitting adulthood will create incredible opportunity for both businesses and employers, as well as pose a great risk for those not agile enough to adjust to a new consumer market.

Make sure you know how to attract, retain, and engage them as customers and employees.  We do at launchbox365. http://launchbox365.com

Sign up for a free consultation on how to improve your relationships with Millennials and Gen Z.  dannegroni.com/socialconnect

3 Easy Steps to Millennials Becoming Their Own Best Leadership Coach

USE OUR ASP HACK

Here on the blog, we often talk about how important it is for business leaders to provide professional development opportunities for their Millennial staff. And not just Millennial staff, but ALL their staff! Guess what? Research proves that learning, well, is the new learning! Millennials are demanding it at work and in the marketplace. They want experiences that teach them and what’s more, only 13 percent of companies report they are “excellent” at building global leaders. That’s a disappointing statistic. So the question becomes, how can we help millennials help themselves?

Millennials don’t need to wait for their companies to establish mentorship programs or leadership training. Millennials can be their own best coach and can start preparing themselves for current or future leadership roles right now. Today! Yes, today.

As we know to be true, millennials are very motivated to learn and to develop leadership skills when given a chance. Like all of us, they just need to know where to start!
Here is a simple framework to help set you on your way to becoming your own best leadership coach.  Since everyone loves a good acronym, we call this framework ASP.

Here’s how you do it.

(A) Assess Yourself as a Leader

To start, you need to become aware and assess who you are as a leader today. This requires that you view yourself with an objective, third-person perspective similar to the way a boss might evaluate you.

To achieve that, we turn to LEADERSHIP JOURNALING.

Writing things down is a uniquely powerful tool and can give us insights into ourselves that we never knew before. Becoming your own best coach requires you to act and to take the initiative.  This exercise is a clear and structured way to identify your strengths and apply focusing on strategies as a leader to own your personal and professional life.

Here’s what you do: sit down with a notepad or blank document on your computer and for 30-minutes, write freely about how you see yourself as a leader. Your writing can be messy and jumbled; the goal here is simply to discover what you feel your strengths and weaknesses are as a leader.  As a matter of fact, throw out as much as you can and see what you get.

If you need some help getting started, here are a few simple questions you can begin answering about yourself. These questions work whether you are already in a leadership role or you are preparing yourself for a future leadership role. They are:

  1. What are your greatest strengths?
  2. How do your strengths help you lead?
  3. What holds you back from being a leader?
  4. When are you at your very best as a leader?
  5. What is one big challenge you have overcome using your strengths and how were you being a leader in that instance?
  6. When was a time that you fell short as a leader?
  7. What did you learn?
  8. How would you do things differently using your strengths?

After 30-minutes, if you answer honestly about yourself as a leader, then you’ll begin to see a pattern of your leadership style splattered across the page. With your LEADERSHIP JOURNAL done it is time to give it a read through and truly understand how to apply your strengths together with what is holding you back from living your strengths to create real results and start crushing it.

(S) Strengths Focus

Start by reading through your LEADERSHIP JOURNAL a few times and pay close attention to your answers (especially for questions 5 – 8). Those are where your areas for improvement are likely lurking.

Based on your responses, you should notice a few things about yourself as a leader that you could improve.  If not, work harder, get a buddy to look at it and really push what you can do to be better, think of yourself as the best coach you ever had and act like that.  As you read, make a bullet list below your LEADERSHIP JOURNAL of at least five things about yourself as a leader you would like to move to the next level.

Once you have your list complete, it’s time to start focusing on objectives to hack.

Five things is too many to focus on improving at once. Instead, pick the top two characteristics or areas of improvement that you think will have the greatest impact on your daily work life. As an example, let’s say you chose to focus on improving your strength of activation or execution by working on patience and organization as your tools to master your work.  You might actually learn to breathe, or digest before reacting so as be seen as a leader of teams instead of an individual contributor.

Now, below your bullet list of strengths you want to improve, list three to four leaders who you would consider to be exceptional in those areas (try to make sure at least one of those four is in your industry or field).

With your list of leaders ready, it is time to do some research. Your job is to answer one focus question: how do these people excel in the areas that you are looking to improve through hacking tips?

Your research into this question should include listening to their podcast, reading their interviews, reading their biographies, or even trying to speak with them directly. Make sure your effort to answer the focus question is purposeful: that means writing down notes, marking pages, and highlighting interviews.

By the end of your research, you should have compiled notes of wisdom about how successful people have strengthened their skills to make it a superpower.  For example, you may now know that Tim Ferris is a big fan of Stoicism to stay calm or that Sheryl Sandberg uses a notebook to keep her thoughts organized.

With your awareness, focus on improving strengths and getting the tools you need. In time, you will start to acquire wisdom in hand. Be ready to put your new found wisdom into action.

(P)  Practice What You Have Learned

Some of the tips you gathered in your research will be sill, not fit your personality, or simply won’t apply. That is okay! You want to narrow down all of your notes to a few tools/resources/approaches that you think can provide real solutions for you. Or actually, convert them to a language that allows you to adopt them and practice all the time.

Now below your research notes, synthesize your notes into a bullet list. This time pick out the two or three nuggets of wisdom you think will be most effective for helping you apply and develop your strengths through trial and error: PRACTICE.

Once you have your two to three point PRACTICE bullet list, it is time for the most important step: to make a concerted effort to apply the strategies to improve as a leader.

Some of this wisdom may work and you will be excited to add it to your repertoire. That is great! But some of it won’t work, and that is okay too. You can always go back and identify other nuggets of wisdom from your notes, research other leaders with the same process, and continue to try new things. That is how you (PRACTICE) learn and improve!

It may seem like a lot of work, but make sure you have fun with it.  If you adopt this ASP process or MINDSET with each new learning experience, you will crush 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..

11 Ways Recruiters Can Attract Millennial and Gen Z Candidates

We know a few things about Millennials and Gen Z: they don’t trust lightly, they crave innovation and experiences, they love the entrepreneurial spirit, they express their need for growth, and have a tendency to disrupt and redefine industries.

So as a recruiter you’re in a tough spot; how to effectively attract talent right from the start. Old school recruiting tactics from 1994 don’t work as well these days getting Millennials and Gen Z talent to want to work for and stay with companies.

Don’t get me wrong, Millennials and Gen Z will happily work for companies.  Recruiters just need to approach younger talent carefully. The secret: they need to connect with them on a deeper level, communicate in ways that feel organic, and tell them the “Real Deal” truth (connecting to them as individuals).

If it all sounds a bit coddling, it really isn’t. It’s about treating your audience the way they want to be treated: The Platinum Rule.  Here are 11 ways recruiters can attract great Millennial and Gen Z talent.

Be Authentic

Not every company can be everything to everyone.  So be yourself.  Don’t pretend.  Not all companies have food, a full arcade, ping pong tables, video games and/or Massage Therapists (a la Facebook or Google). But for many companies, those perks wouldn’t even make sense to offer even if they could!

It is important that recruiters highlight perks that are relevant to the people in the industry they are hiring for. If the industry is technology, then having the latest technology and being a center of innovation and growth is a good sell. For a non-profit, it will be focusing on the tangible impact a candidate’s work will have. If it is the professional service industry, then experience and growth opportunities might be the right perks to highlight.

Whatever your industry, make sure to focus on the perks your candidates are likely to care the most about and that they compliment your company’s culture and values.

Go To Them

Millennials and Gen Z are not looking through the classifieds to find jobs. 86% of professionals in their first 10 years of their career use social media as part of their job search. If you want to get in front of the eyes of young talent, Facebook, LinkedIn, Snapchat are where you should be.

Don’t make the mistake of being everywhere, though. Spreading yourself too thin is likely to do more harm than good.

Be authentic and appear on the platforms that people in your industry are most likely to be on. Professional industry talent might more likely be on LinkedIn whereas creative talent will be on Medium and Instagram.

Use “depth not breadth” to make your efforts as effective as possible.

Highlight the Impact That They Will Make

It is incredibly important to Millennials and Gen Z that they feel they are making a difference with the work they do. During the interview process, Millennials will be looking for concrete examples of how they are going to be able to hit the ground running and contribute right away to the company’s mission. Recruiters should make sure they communicate how their company harnesses that youthful energy and provide examples of the types of opportunities young talent will have to make an impact.

Move Fast

Millennials and Gen Z have grown up with the world at their fingertips. Millennial talent knows it is coveted and it won’t wait around for you to slog through a long recruiting and onboarding process. Make sure the recruitment process is as swift and efficient as possible. This is the generation that invented Tinder after all!  However, make sure you’re getting the right fit.  They attract quickly, however, test fit.

Tell ‘Em What They Want to Hear

No, not Ping Pong tables or “dope swag.” Millennials and Gen Z want to hear how their work will contribute to the company, how the company contributes to its community, the types of  professional development opportunities the company offers, and the flexibility they will have in terms of working hours. These perks may not be flashy, but they are the ones that Millennials care about most.

Focus on the Experience of Your Workplace

Millennials kicked their parents habit of materialism and they are bringing their experience-first mindset to the workplace. They don’t just want to know what they will be doing at work, they want to know how they will be doing it. Are they going to be asked to connect to AOL via a dial-up connection or does the office have a modern internal messaging platform? Do senior staff take the time to connect and mentor younger staff? Do their colleagues spend time together outside of the office for happy hour or team building?

The experience of the workplace is nearly as important as the work itself and young talent will be weary of companies that aren’t eager to share the day-in-the-life of their employees.

Show Off Your Diversity

Millennials are a diverse bunch and they want their employer to reflect that. They are on the lookout for people from different backgrounds professionally, culturally, sexually, and geographically. It is important to them that they work for companies that are actively trying to break down social barriers, be more inclusive, and provide opportunities for all people. Highlighting these efforts will be important to catch the attention of Millennials and Gen Z.

Share Your Company Story

Millennials killed off brands that didn’t have a compelling, original or meaningful story driving their company’s mission and they will happily walk away from employers who come off as similarly shallow.

If you have a great company story (and we all do!) make sure it gets shared during the recruitment process.Your story should tell why your company does what it does, why your people come to work fired up everyday, and how that purpose is found throughout your organization.

Having a genuine story of why your company does what it does can be the difference between landing and losing young talent.

CSR Policies are Important

Millennials and Gen Z care about the environment and their community and they want the companies they work for to be equally invested. Recruiters should make sure to share tangible and specific examples of how they are putting the environment and their communities first with their Millennial and Gen Z talent.

Provide a Roadmap to the Future

Young talent craves professional development and the chance to move through (and up) a company. It isn’t so much about the big corner office and fat paychecks; Millennials want to know about how their skills will be honed, what areas they might become experts in, and how their position might help them take on larger roles in the future.

For people who have lived through wars and a recession, they want a clear picture of how their current position will help set them up with greater stability in the future.

Let Them Meet Current “Team” of Millennials

Let Millennials and Gen Z meet your Millennials! The chance to spend half a day with your younger talent is a great way to show how your company caters to younger generations in tangible ways, demonstrates a transparency that Millennials respect, and allows for your current Millennial talent to be your brand ambassador.

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!

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.

Millennials in Law Enforcement

This is a guest post by Sergeants Rich Hinzo and Steve Waldheim, SDPD

The San Diego Police Department takes pride in being innovative, progressive and places a heavy emphasis on training.  Our Department is at the forefront of implementing cutting edge equipment like tasers, body cameras, and any other physical tools we feel may best support our officers.  Additionally, we continue to conduct training on Mental Health, Active Shooter, and Mobile Field Force and Protest Management.

While these skills are important for our officer’s safety and the success of protecting the community, the San Diego Police Department also focuses its training on leadership skills which include, Procedural Justice, Emotional Intelligence, and Community Policing.

The San Diego Police Department constantly looks at law enforcement trends from a local and national perspective and attempts to identify issues and or deficiencies that affect our department.  We consistently review our policies, procedures, and best practices.  We train, evaluate, and make necessary changes and adjustments to fit the need of the officers today and the climate in which they work.

One of the trending topics this year in law enforcement, from a national perspective, was recruiting and retention.

Law enforcement has more generations working together than ever before and the largest group entering the workforce are Millennials.  Millennials are a much maligned group that aren’t understood very well by Generation X’ers or Baby Boomers, whom make up the majority of the San Diego Police Department’s supervisors and command staff.  Millennials have different life experiences, see the world from a different perspective, and their learning environments differ greatly from the two previous mentioned generations.

The San Diego Police Department reached out to Dan Negroni, Founder and CEO of Launchbox.  Dan is a consultant who helps companies solve today’s critical multi-generational issues.  Specifically, the focus is helping to facilitate communication with Generation “Y” which is more commonly referred to as “Millennials.”  Millennials are people born between 1980-1995.  Forty percent of today’s workforce are Millennials and sixty percent of the world’s population today is under the age of thirty.  Within 10 years, 75 percent of law enforcement agencies across the United States will be comprised of Millennials.

Dan came to the San Diego Police Department and gave a presentation about the nuances of the Millennial Generation to our captains and chiefs, including Police Chief Shelly Zimmerman.  What we learned was more than 60 percent of Millennials leave their employers within 3 years.  It costs companies an average of fifteen to twenty thousand dollars to replace each Millennial.  Within law enforcement, this number is much higher due to all the front loaded costs of training involved.  Most companies don’t have a plan in place to deal with this type of turnover and only twenty-two percent of organizations have a plan to engage Millennials and future generations.  Most importantly, Dan gave all of us insight into how to better manage and lead officers from this generation and warned us about the pitfalls of not recognizing the differences in how they see the world and their place in it.

Within the San Diego Police Department, we have annual training for all our sergeants, lieutenants and captains called “Command Training”.  This year, our main focus was on leadership and how to close the generational gap between supervisors and newer officers.  Since our supervisors lead by example, the captains of our Department were tasked this year with presenting our generational class called, “Bridging the Gap” to their own supervisory cadres.  The presentation was based on Dan Negroni’s class as well as teachings from his book, Chasing Relevance.

Perhaps you’ve heard newer officers on your Department expecting to make detective or sergeant in a short amount of time.  How many of us have said, “Back when I first started you would have never asked for that?”  There’s a reason why there’s a big disconnect between generations.  Millennials grew up in a very different world than we did.  Millennials grew up in a generation where everyone gets a trophy just for playing and they were told they could be anything they wanted to be.  They grew up in a technology savvy world where they could have anything instantly.  But there’s two things you can’t get an app on your I-phone for, job satisfaction and building relationships.  These things take time and it’s our job as supervisors within law enforcement to convey that to this generation.  Millennials are well educated, tech savvy and the two top things they desire from the workplace is professional development and work/life balance.

So how do we bridge the gap between generations within law enforcement?  You start by showing up and making it about others.  The single most important life/work skill is always building relationships.  In 2015, Professors from Cornell University conducted a survey in a large city Fire Department which included more than fifty fire houses.  They interviewed and surveyed over 395 supervisors within the department to rate the performance of platoons they were on versus platoons they had formerly served with.  Over this fifteen month study, the results showed that the platoons that ate together frequently had the highest performance ratings.  Conversely, the platoons that did not eat together had the lowest performance ratings.  The study showed that shared meals can serve as a cooperative activity by fostering greater collaboration and stronger social ties.  It’s the shared bonding time that is most important.

The discussions amongst our supervisors during Command Training have been innovative in finding ways to connect with newer officers.  As is the case with any law enforcement agency, the San Diego Police Department wants to retain its Millennial officers, especially after the money spent training them.  This is just a small way of trying to combat the issues today’s law enforcement is facing with recruiting and retention.  Whose job is it to retain your employees in the workplace?  The supervisors, regardless if it’s law enforcement or not.

The San Diego Police Department strides to make our Department as efficient as possible with one of the lowest number of officers per population in major cities across the United States.  Soon, Millennials will make up the majority of the workforce and law enforcement.  The San Diego Police Department wants to ensure that protecting the community continues to be the top priority for future generations and, in today’s world, working with millennials and not against them is the best way to accomplish this.

Want to Solve Millennial Engagement? Look Toward the Japanese: Try Kaizen Groups

The question most employers have about Millennial employees boils down to this:

What the hell do I do with them? Isn’t there a simple solution that can make them happy so I don’t have to engage with them?

Employers complain about Millennial employees being woefully unprepared for the workforce and lacking essential professional skills. But employers also need to keep their Millennial staff around to replace senior staff as they retire, help with knowledge transfer, and create the workplace of the future, all while avoiding the high costs that come with Millennial turnover.

How do you keep these fresh-graduates and future leaders engaged in their work, feeling valued, provide them opportunities to develop their skills, and allow them to make an impact on the company, all while minimizing costs?

One possible solution comes from Japan.

Kaizen, The Theory

Imagine a stereotypical mid-20th century manufacturing plant: A CEO or other heads of the company make decisions about how the plant runs and the employees on the production floor change their behavior according to the orders they receive from the top. Improvements in this scenario are often made through large-scale, expensive, and reactive changes.

But if you were to go to a Toyota plant during the same time period (and now), you would find something very different.

Employees on the production lines carry out their tasks much like their American counterparts, but there is an important difference: the employees on the production floor in Japan regularly meet together, identify issues, discuss suggestions on how to make the production process more efficient, and then they execute those small improvements.

This process of bottom-up continuous improvement is called Kai (change) Zen (good). Developed in Japan by Toyota after WWII, Kaizen can refer to any efforts where small optimizations are continuously made to produce large-scale improvements over time.

The idea is that employees closest to a given process are in the best position to make suggestions for improving that process. Individual employees are empowered to ask “how can this be done better?” or “how can we do this better?”  Employees are often then grouped in Kaizen Groups, which regularly meet to share the issues they have identified during the course of their work, present and discuss solutions, and then execute those solutions on their area of the business.

Over time, these small, proactive, incremental improvements across an entire company’s operations can make a big difference in quality and efficiency.

Though they were created as a tool to achieve lean production, Kaizen Groups can be repurposed to help engage Millennial staff in your workplace by creating Millennial Kaizen Groups. The rationale is that Kaizen is the ultimate form of Professional Development and that is exactly what Millennials need to stay engaged at work.

How to Create and Utilize Millennial Peer to Peer Kaizen Groups

Creating Millennial Kaizen Groups is fairly straightforward. A Kaizen Group is formed with a few younger staff and the group is tasked with developing lists of issues that they come across during the course of their daily work. The team regularly meets together to discuss the issues they identify as well as develop proposals for solutions to those issues.

Every two weeks (or however often is appropriate), the Millennial Kaizen Group meets with senior staff and upper management (as high up in the hierarchy as possible) and presents their list of identified issues as well as their solutions to those issues. Senior staff then have a chance to provide feedback and insights on the solutions presented and the group works together to decide which solutions are feasible and why.

Any solutions that are accepted by the senior management team are then executed by the Kaizen Group and the results of the optimizations are tracked and regularly reviewed. The cycle then continues with the group regularly meeting, making proposals, developing plans of execution with senior staff, and reviewing the results of those changes.

Why Millennial Peer to Peer Kaizen Groups Can Work

Forming Kaizen Groups in this way is a simple but powerful way of engaging Millennial staff and has a host of benefits for younger staff and the company as a whole.

Consider the potential benefits for Professional Development by participating in Kaizen Groups for Millennial staff:

  • Increased Engagement:

    Group members are more engaged in their daily work, constantly seeking ways that the processes or tools that they work within can be improved.

  • Real Feedback on Their Ideas:

    Group members have the opportunity to see how their ideas stand up to the scrutiny of senior management and learn from the holes that senior staff poke in their ideas.

  • Presentation/Communication Skills:

    The Kaizen Group regularly gives a formal presentation to senior staff. It’s an opportunity to practice their communication and presentation skills, two skills employers feel younger staff severely lack.

  • Sense of Value:

    Even if their ideas are rejected, the Kaizen Group has the opportunity to be heard by upper management, an important demonstration that the younger staff are valued.

  • Increased “Peer to Peer” Camaraderie:

    The Kaizen Group works together closely to pool issues, create pitches, develop solutions, and work as a team.

  • Sense of Purpose through Impact:

    The group enjoys a sense of making a genuine impact as a result of the proposals that are approved and implemented.

Millennial Peer to Peer Kaizen Groups benefit senior staff and the company as a whole as well. These groups are a chance for senior management to provide feedback on the group’s ideas and the presentation of their ideas, walk them through any areas where their ideas are lacking, and mold them for the mindset of the company. Millennial Kaizen Groups are a rare opportunity for senior staff to evaluate their younger talent (and their ideas) up close and critique their thinking, an important aspect of mentorship and training many Millennials crave but often lack in the workplace.

And, in the instances where the group presents a good solution to an issue, the company is improved in small ways that can have a large impact over time with little to no monetary investment.

American and British car companies, sick of playing catch-up to the Japanese, were eventually forced to adopt Kaizen into their own production processes. Companies struggling to keep their young talent from walking out of the door should feel a similar pressure. Millennial Peer to Peer Kaizen Groups have the potential to ease generational tensions and develop young talent at little to no cost.

And that is a damn good deal.

Need help setting one up? launchbox365 knows how.