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.

Defining Diversity as Millennials Do: Is Your HR Department Really Ready?

Both your HR department and your Millennial staff will undoubtedly agree that diversity in the workplace is important for the well-being of individual staff and the company as a whole. But when each says diversity, are they both describing the same thing? Do they agree on what makes for a diverse  workplace?

After 25 years working with both Human Resource leaders and the last 10 with Millennials, I know they probably don’t share the same definition of diversity. And with 50% of the workforce currently made up of Millennials who directly connect diversity–as they define it– with their engagement at work, it is critical to the health of any organization that Human Resource leaders and Millennials are on the same page about what “diversity” means.

Rather than seeing diversity as something to merely tolerate, or tip toe around, Millennials are demonstrating that they believe that there are tangible benefits to proactively seeking out minorities and people of diverse backgrounds to share ideas and ensure everyone’s voices are heard equally.

But, it isn’t enough for Human Resource leaders to understand how Millennials define diversity. They also need to know how to implement the right strategies for promoting diversity effectively and in ways that Millennials will respond to favorably as we develop the workplace of the future.

For Millennials, Diversity is Not Limited to Race

For Baby Boomers, diversity largely refers to race or gender. or the last 30 years Boomers have supported efforts that promote workplace diversity and reduced racial discrimination. Those efforts have helped make big strides in the racial diversity of offices across most, but not all, industries.

Millennials are the most diverse generation and consider having friends and coworkers from different races as expected. As a result, Millennials have widened the net of those who are included in “diversity” initiatives. Racial diversity is still important, but they also want their workplace to be diverse in terms of socioeconomics, sexual orientation, life-experience, and even where their colleagues grew up.

For Millennials, a multiracial workplace is good, but if all their colleagues come from the same suburbs and ivy league schools, they will still see your workplace diversity as lacking.

When it comes to diversity, Millennials want to be proactive. This means they don’t just want racial barriers of success removed, they want to actively collaborate with people of diverse backgrounds and learn from colleagues with different life experiences other than their own.

And to do that, they expect far more proactive efforts of inclusion by their employers.

From Diversity, Inclusion, and Millennial Engagement

For Millennials, inclusion involves opportunities that positively highlight differences, allow for the sharing of ideas, and facilitate teamwork between different groups.

And the reward for Human Resource departments who can meet Millennial expectations about inclusion? A more equitable and ethical workplace of course, but also far higher rates of Millennial engagement.  And, the sad truth is that the opposite of engaging them is losing them.  If you are Amazon or Toyota, each with 340,000 employees, that is a MULTI-BILLION dollar problem annually.  Even if you have 10,000 employees Millennial Turnover is likely an $87M problem annually.   (See our blog on the Staggering Cost of Millennial Turnover)

Human Resource departments who meet Millennial standards for inclusion see a 20% increase in engagement compared to those that fall short. With low-engagement costing the US economy 350 billion dollars every year, Human Resource departments have plenty of reason to look critically at their workplace diversity and asking themselves if it is everything it could be.

How Human Resource Leaders Can Meet Millennial’s Expectations for Inclusion

Diversity is a tricky issue for human resource leaders to tackle. Even genuine efforts to help promote diversity and inclusion can sometimes backfire.

So, what can be done to effectively promote diversity and help all staff members feel a sense of inclusion in the organizations they work for?

In the prestigious Journal of Applied Psychology, Downey, van der Werff, Thomas and Plaut, the authors of the paper “The Role of Diversity Practices and Inclusion in Promoting Trust and Employee Engagement”— which looked at the connection between diversity and engagement in the healthcare industry— describe three strategies that not only help promote inclusion, but also result in greater trust between employees and employers:

  • Mentoring Programs that help “…reduce social exclusion…” in the workplace
  • Management training to reduce bias’ in hiring managers
  • Diversity staff and task forces that give inclusion efforts traction by tracking results, follow-up on current initiatives, and implementing new programs

At Launchbox365, we train Human Resource leaders and managers in these exact strategies to help them ensure they are meeting the inclusion expectations of their Millennials staff. Through our work, we have seen first hand the boosts in trust and engagement that can take place when strategies like these are implemented properly to help increase the diversity and openness of organizations.

The Staggering Cost of Millennial Turnover

Imagine if there was something lurking in your business that was costing you hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars every year, was detrimental to your company culture, and negatively impacting every facet of your business. You would probably spring to action to fix it right?

Well, Millennial turnover is that “something”.

Yet, when I talk to CEOs, business leaders, and partners at law firms, they often seem unaware of the extent to which Millennial turnover impacts their business. When we talk about Millennial turnover, we are talking about historically low retention rates of young talent across industries that cost mid to large sized companies and firms millions of dollars a year and billions of dollars to the US economy. Millennial turnover is not something for CEOs or industry leaders to grumble about and sweep under the rug. It negatively affects company culture, staff morale, innovation,  productivity, and every other aspect of a business. The total impact on your business may astound you.

Direct Costs of Millennial Turnover

Millennial turnover costs the US economy $30.5 billion dollars every year. Yes, each and every year.

For individual businesses, the news is just as bad.  Currently, millennials make up one-third of the workforce, and 36% of them say they expect to  leave their current employer in the next 12 months. And in the US, each of those employees that is currently scrolling through job boards at their desk generates on average of $150,000 of revenue per year for their company.

And once those Millennials leave, they need to be replaced. That replacement process includes advertising costs, interview costs, training costs, and a host of other onboarding related costs. Depending on the industry, these direct costs of replacing millennial staff can add up to anywhere from $15,000 at the low end to 50% to 200% of an employee’s annual salary at the higher end.

Can you say “OUCH”?

Those are staggering numbers. And with Millennials continuing to enter the workforce over the next few years and Gen Z on the workforce horizon, the direct costs associated with employee turnover may increase.

Those are only the direct costs.

Indirect Costs of Millennial Turnover

What happens when an employee leaves?

For starters, their work still needs to get done, and it is usually passed on to other staff. This is often a source of stress for their ex-colleagues who are responsible for picking up the slack.  In the paper The Impact of Staff Turnover on Workplace Demands and Coworker Relationships, the authors outline the problem for ex-colleagues clearly:

“…Turnover causes financial strain on organizations while they recruit and train new employees… disrupts organizational efficiency…can threaten the implementation and sustainability of new initiatives… likelihood of turnover among remaining staff increases when stress is high and coworker support is low…”

Let’s appreciate what the authors are saying for a second. Millennial turnover causes increased financial strain, decreased efficiency, disruption of new initiatives, and increases in turnover of the staff who are still working there.

Basically, Millennial turnover negatively impacts every imaginable aspect of a business or company.

And don’t forget, even once the Millennial moves on, you are not out of the woods yet.

The people who replace the Millennials who leave your company need time to get onboarded, trained, and brought up to speed before they can start contributing at max efficiency. This process can take between three and seven weeks according to a Millennial Branding survey, causing months of suboptimal performance.

Once CEOs and business leaders realize the extent of the Millennial turnover issue, it is as if they just realized their gas tank has had a giant hole in it for the last 20 miles. They jump to action, asking us at Launchbox365 to help them to reshape retention and engagement..

And through the new training and development needed:  coaching and mentorship from the inside-out, our team is able to to help them connect with their Millennial staff and provide the professional development and work environment and experience Millennials crave, reducing their Millennial turnover.

But the first step to getting help is admitting you have a problem. Business leaders must first appreciate Millennial turnover for what it is: a million dollar issue that negatively impacts every aspect of their business.

What about you? Got this issue?

Solving the Professional Service Industry’s Millennial Challenge.

Houston, we, the professional service industry, have a Millennial problem. Millennials can expect their initial years in the industry to involve “paying their dues” through unengaging grunt work and brutal work hours with few opportunities for professional growth or training. The reward for surviving those monotonous early years is greater earning potential later in their careers.

Or, said another way, the professional service industry offers the exact opposite of what we know Millennials want from their careers.

And it is costing the industry millions of dollars every year.

On average, Millennials leave their employers after only two years on the job. This is wildly expensive for companies and leaves them with no talent in the pipeline to groom for future success in the industry. Though professional service companies must own some of the blame for their lack of appeal to Millennials, the issue is complex and it isn’t all the fault of the professional service industry itself.  So what is really going on with professional Millennials and what can be done about it?

To Invest or Not to Invest in Training for Millennial Talent

Millennial turnover is no small problem. For mid to large professional service companies, a high rate of turnover costs millions of dollars in direct and indirect costs.  

Employers are understandably frustrated. They feel that Millennials are graduating college without the necessary skills to succeed as professionals. Employers could close that gap by investing in training and professional development. But out of fear their young talent will leave anyway, they hesitate to invest in proper training and professional development opportunities.

This has created an endless negative cycle. Millennials don’t receive the training opportunities they value forcing them to look elsewhere for opportunities where they can learn and grow. This gives them a reputation for job-hopping, making employers even more hesitant to invest the time and money to train their young staff.

This is already playing out in law firms, which some think will be forced to break apart over the next decade due to a lack of up and coming talent to hand established firms over to after longstanding Boomer partners retire.

For companies, Millennials are an expensive and seemingly unfixable problem. But they are not alone: Millennials think the situation is hopeless as well.

Why Are Millennials Leaving?

We know that Millennials value work that is meaningful, provides opportunities to learn and allows them to make an impact in areas that they are passionate about. Yet, professional service companies continue their tradition of giving young talent long hours, dull work, a lack of opportunities to make a significant impact, and limited opportunities to work in areas of interest.

Millennials also rank salary below training and schedule flexibility when it comes to workplace perks. Yet, most companies continue to pay high salaries, are unbudging when it comes to flexible work hours, skimp on providing valuable professional development opportunities, and then throw up their hands in exasperation when their Millennials walk out on them.  

It really should not come as a surprise that Millennials are quick to leave the professional service industry given that companies have shown little willingness to cater to the needs and wants of Millennial talent. Senior Boomer staff who have spent their lives working their way up the industry hierarchy will exclaim that this is how it has always been! These Millennials need to toughen up!

This is a losing mentality for individual companies and the industry as a whole.

The professional service industry simply cannot afford to pass up on entire generations of talent because of an unwillingness to adapt to the needs of up and coming talent. Just like in any other industry, companies can (and must) make small adjustments to how they operate and invest in young, up-and-coming talent.  

How The Professional Service Industry Can Retain Millennial Talent

If current trends continue, many companies in the next decade are going to be forced to deal with a shallow talent pool as the most talented Millennials become frustrated and move on to other more Millennial-focused industries. Thankfully, there are practical strategies that companies can use to satisfy Millennial’s professional development needs, keep them engaged in their work and increase the likelihood that they stick around long enough for companies to see a return on their investment in young talent.

Pay Less and Train More

This bears repeating: professional development opportunities are the number one workplace perk among Millennials across all industries. It is possible for companies to invest more in training and decrease their risk of losing that investment simultaneously. To do this, some companies are lowering starting salaries and offering an increased emphasis on training opportunities as a perk to attract young talent.

At the end of the day, indulging Millennials in their desire for professional development is hugely beneficial for companies. Providing training helps close the skills gap, increases Millennial retention rates, lowers turnovers costs, and helps attract top talent that companies can groom for success in the industry.       

Alternative Career Paths

Not everyone needs to pop champagne on a private jet to feel fulfilled by their career. Companies need to provide alternative career paths for Millennials who may not be striving to summit the peak of the industry in terms of money and status, but who are more than capable of bringing value and passion to an organization.  

Creating alternative career paths often involves offering more diverse positions than were previously available. These new roles provide more opportunities for Millennials to focus on areas of the industry that interest them most and where they feel they can make the biggest impact. This is a draw to Millennials, even if that means they will be working for a lower salary. These alternative career paths may not offer the glitz and glamour of “making partner”, but they allow companies to appeal to a more diverse group of young talent and benefit from the value and passion they bring.

Adopt More Progressive Work Policies

No one is suggesting axing professional dress codes or adding ping pong tables and craft peer as office perks. But the service industry needs to begin to admit that if it is going to succeed, it needs to come out of the 1960s. That includes making greater efforts of inclusion, supporting greater work hour flexibility, and continued integration of digital and online tools that improve the experience of both the young staff and the company’s clients. The industry doesn’t need to be turned on its head, but it does need to work towards reflecting the world that its associates and clients live in.

The next decade is going to be critical for the  professional service industry. Gen Z, the generation after Millennials, has the job market in its sights, and the talent in Gen Z is going have similar expectations about the workplace as their slightly older Millennial colleagues. The professional service industry needs the best and brightest to succeed, but if it does not begin to evolve to appeal to young talent, it is going to be left fighting over the leftovers of the talent pool.

And for industry built around professionals, that is a scary thought.

launchbox recognized as top Millennail blog

launchbox365 was recognized as one of the Top 100 Millennial Blogs and Websites for Millennials.
See the complete list here.

launchbox recognized as top Millennail blog