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

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

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

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

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

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

 

How Google Provides Space for its Employees to Learn and Grow

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

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

 

How Amazon Takes Authenticity Seriously

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

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

 

 

How Patagonia Uses Feedback to Drive Employee Performance Goals

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

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

 

How GoFundMe Gives its Employees Purpose and Contribution

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

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

 

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

What’s Holding You Back? The 5 Most Common Fears That Are Keeping You From Success

I recently got back from a week in Singapore – a week that was bookended by two of the world’s longest flights. And I mean that literally. At 18.5+ hours, the flight from LAX to Singapore is one of the longest commercial flights you can make!

When you travel a lot as I do, you have a ton of thinking time, especially if you can’t sleep on planes like me. You also get to meet all sorts of people. People at their best and at their worst. The best rocks and the worst well, not so much. And when you’re meeting people at their worst, it’s usually because you’re bumping up against their fears – fear of flying, fear of enclosed spaces, fear of missing out (FOMO), fear of whatever. Fear can make people unpleasant, if not downright impossible to deal with. And what’s sad is fear holds people back and prevents them from connecting with their fellow travelers – we’ve all heard those stories of a chance meeting on a plane that changed someone’s life or career forever! So the big question is, how do we move beyond that fear and negativity?

Clearly, the workplace is also a place where you’re likely to meet people working from fear. It shows up differently for all people and sometimes doesn’t even look like fear, but unless you bust through it, it will continue to keep you from achieving the success you want for yourself, your team, and your company.

Over the 36+ hours I spent on a plane at the end of January, I had a lot of time to reflect on what holds people back in life and in their careers. After training over 14,000 millennials, I’ve found that most people struggle with the same five things. Occasionally, I’ll get a client with a unique challenge, but by and large most people get hung up by the same damn things! The good news? They’re all things we can coach you through!

 

Fear of Failure

Fear of failure holds you back because when you’re afraid to fail, you’re afraid to risk anything. You reject opportunities for growth or advancement because it means stepping outside your comfort zone and opening yourself up to failing. So you stay in the same role even though you have nothing left to learn. You stay at the same job you hate because you’re afraid to fail in a new role at a new company. You daydream about starting your own business, but never do more than dabble because you’re afraid to fail in such a public way.

But here’s the thing. If you want to get a promotion, start your own company, change careers – you need to accept that risk is part of the package. As the old saying goes, nothing ventured, nothing gained. You HAVE to risk failure and lean into the uncertainty in order to succeed. It is simply not possible to stay “safe” and crush your goals at the same time. You have to be bold and take action, regardless of the outcome.

 

Lack of Confidence

If you suffer from a lack of confidence, you will have trouble connecting with others and asking for what you want whether that’s a promotion, a new role, or the sale. Instead, you wait for these things to be handed to you. You hope that if you work hard enough, your boss will notice and give you the raise you’ve been thinking about. You tell yourself that if you’re nice enough to the prospective client, they’ll just decide to give you their business.

But it doesn’t work like that. You NEED to learn how to connect with others, articulate your value, and ask for what you want in a way that serves others. We call that “WIFThem”. ..What’s in it for them. Which again goes back to working on the relationship you have with yourself so you can know your story and what you have to give to others.

 

Feeling Unworthy

Somehow we’ve got it into our heads that being self-deprecating is the same as being humble. It’s not.

It might seem innocent enough to brush off a compliment or make a joke that puts yourself down, but over time, you begin to reinforce the idea that you are unworthy of the accolades, praise, and compliments of others. And when you feel unworthy of what you’ve already been given, you will shy away from opportunities to do more and be more. Which will never move you closer to your career goals.

Instead, you need to own it!!! We all have something to contribute so figure out what you have to give to others and own every inch of it!!!

 

Fear of Being Found Out

Also known as imposter syndrome, many people I’ve coached are held back by an intense fear that “other people will find them out”. That if people get too close, if they spend too much time with them, they will discover that they’re not as talented, smart, creative, innovative, imaginative, etc. as they’ve made themselves out to be. That once people take a look under the shiny hood, instead of the performance engine they expect to find, they’ll discover the car’s leaking oil and held together with duct tape. So they stay in hiding and keep people at arm’s length.

But if you want the career you’ve always dreamed of, you need to find a way to show your value and be vulnerable, which is one of the key leadership traits for success. Once you can share who you truly are, you’ll be able to make it about others. You can’t make it about others if you can’t be vulnerable and connect with them to find out what they truly care about! So until you let go of this fear that you’ll be found out as a fraud, which you won’t, you’re going to struggle to connect and move forward in your career.

 

Inability to Take Action

Some people are held back simply by their inability to get out of their own way and take action! They get so overwhelmed by the thought of changing jobs, starting a new career, or going the entrepreneur route that they stare at the mountain of decisions that need to be made and choose to do NOTHING. By the way, this fear usually relates to one of the aforementioned fears being buried down deep…but we won’t put you on the couch just yet.

Here’s the thing: you might think you’re abdicating or deferring the responsibility by refusing to make a decision. But you’re still making a choice. You’re choosing to do nothing about your current situation and you’re choosing to do nothing to move you closer to your goals. So if you’re telling yourself that you DO really want the promotion or the job, then you have to DO something about it. You cannot sit back and hope things just work out in your favor.

 

So what’s holding you back? And how are you going to bust through it to get the life and career you want? If you don’t know, then start by scheduling your exploratory coaching call or signing up for our next Strengths & Story workshop.

 

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  1. Take Risks. Lean into Uncertainty.
  2. Be Bold. Be Vulnerable.
  3. Own Your Value.
  4. Connect With Others and Make it About Them.
  5. Choose Action.

What Millennials Want From Employers

After training over 14,000 millennials around the world from the United States to as far away as Singapore, I’ve discovered that millennials all want the same four things from their employers. The good news? It’s not rocket science. The bad news? Most employers are still not getting it right with their millennial and gen z employees.

Millennials around the world face unique pressures from their governments, culture, and society, but they’re pretty united on what they want out of life, especially from the workplace. Just take a look at this Reddit thread from the summer of 2018 – I’m sure you’ll notice that a lot of the ideas floated by the millennials in this thread sound identical to things you’ve heard from the mouths of your own millennial employees.

The problem of connecting generations is not an American problem, but a global problem. And whether you have a mom-and-pop shop or own an international powerhouse, you need to pay attention to the things your younger employees want from you in order to better connect with them. Getting it right with all your employees is the real key to company growth. So if you want to grow in 2019 (and I bet you do!) you need to learn and implement these four concepts in your workplace:

Millennials Want to Learn and Grow

Millennials want to learn from you, gain real skills, and grow their careers. They are looking for employers who can mentor and guide them or at the very least, make sure they’re getting the education and developmental support they crave.

If you’re not up for mentoring your employees (though I highly encourage you to be that for them) there are tons of resources you can provide them with instead. Earlier this year we talked about the eLearning Revolution. Allow them to sign up for webinars, online conferences, and even courses that will either further develop their skills for the role they have or help them move towards the job they want within your company. You can also send to in-person conferences, seminars, masterminds, networking groups, or workshops to support their professional development. Once a month we teach Strengths & Story here at launchbox – click here to send them to our next workshop. We can also come to your office and work with your team directly.

Millennials Want You to Be Real With Them

As digital natives, the average millennial can sniff out BS a mile away. They’ve seen it ALL. Every sales scheme, fake photo, doctored video, or piece of fake news out there. By default, they expect that people aren’t being honest with them – so it’s up to you to BE REAL!

Millennials want to know your real-deal vision for your company, your plans, goals, and how they specifically fit into that picture of the future. They want to know if there’s potential to grow with your company and if there is, if your vision for their role aligns with their own personal goals. Again, they want to learn and grow and need to know if your company is the place for them to do that. But they can only be sure of it if you get real with them and communicate authentically and transparently about where you’re going.

Millennials Want Great Feedback and Communication

Millennials want authentic feedback from you and clear communication about your expectations for them. They are trying to better themselves both to serve their own goals and yours, but they can’t do that if you’re not straight with them. Learn to deliver honest and consistent feedback daily and coach them to do the same for you. Yes, you deserve great feedback, too! Feedback is how we all learn and grow.

You also need to teach and model good communication skills for your millennial and gen z employees across all mediums: face-to-face, phone, email, and text. For some of your employees, your business might be their first “real job”. So don’t be surprised if they don’t communicate in a way that’s appropriate for the workplace. But it’s up to you to teach them! Don’t be the boss that gripes about them under your breath without doing anything to fix the problem. If you don’t help, then you’re PART of the problem!

Millennials Want Purpose and Contribution

Perhaps above all other things on this list, your millennial employees want to feel that their work has purpose and that they’re contributing in some way, whether it’s to your company or the world at large. For some companies, purpose and contribution are embedded into their very DNA. It’s easy to see who they serve, why they serve them, and how they’re making a difference. But for other companies, it’s not so clear-cut. That doesn’t mean you’re off the hook though. Your millennial and gen z employees want purpose and contribution. And it’s up to you to give it to them or risk losing them to another company that will.

Not sure how to connect the who, what, why, and how of your company to topics of purpose and contribution for your employees? We can help. We can assist you in discovering and developing your personal story and by extension, your company’s story. When you know who you are and what you stand for, you can better articulate what your company is and what IT stands for. The clearer you can make the vision, the better you’ll be able to help your employees find their own purpose and contribution within your company. Because they’re right: the best way to motivate people and retain them, is to give them the sense that what they do actually matters.

 

Having trouble connecting the generations in your workplace? Reach out to us at launchbox to discuss how we can help!

 

5 Tips to Help You Get Promoted at Work This Year

Want to get promoted at work this year? Turns out, it’s not just up to your boss to decide whether you deserve it. There are things you can do to ENSURE you’ll get the promotion! But it all goes back to the two topics we’ve been talking about over the past two weeks: UNDERSTANDING YOURSELF and MAKING IT ABOUT OTHERS. When you know yourself and can communicate it to others in a way that benefits them, you are sure to get promoted. It’s that simple. So if you want to climb the career ladder this year, make sure you put these five actionable tips into practice:

 

Tip #1: You Must Understand the Power of Relationships

Relationships are the most important life/work skill you can have because everything you do is focused on connecting with other people. You must build relationships not only with your boss/employer but also your peers and clients. At launchbox, we’ve worked with many managers, CEOs, and entrepreneurs. One of the things they all consider when promoting an employee is how well that person works with the rest of the team and how well they connect with the clients and customers.

But you cannot begin to truly connect with others until you’ve done the hard work of building a relationship with yourself. That’s the first relationship you should focus on. Which leads me to tip #2.

 

Tip #2: You Must Understand Yourself and Your Strengths

Your strengths are something you’re naturally good at. They are the things you bring to the table to the benefit of your employer and their company. And they’re not hard skills like knowing how to design a logo or understanding python. They’re things like your innate leadership ability or your work ethic. These are strengths you might not even be aware that you have on the surface, which is why building a relationship with yourself is such an important part of the work you need to do to get a promotion. Knowing your unique strengths will help you articulate your value to your manager and cement your place on the team.

 

Tip #3: You Must Know Your Values, Skills, and Passions

The Platinum Rule is treating others how they want to be treated. So along with knowing your strengths, you must know your values, skills, and passions because you need to figure out how to apply them to others. At launchbox, we call this WIFThem: what’s in it for them. You need to be able to communicate how your unique values, skills, and passions add up to a win for your boss. For example, in a discussion about your skills don’t just say, “I’m a people person”. That doesn’t add up to a win for your employer. But if you say, “My skill is that I can connect with other human beings immediately which leads to stronger teams and better client relationships for your company” that’s a win! When you communicate your skills, passions, and values in a way that is other-focused, you will get that promotion.

 

Tip #4: You Must Know Your “Brand”

Brands aren’t just for companies. You need to know and be clear on what your “brand” is. Brands are about who you want to be and how you want to be perceived in the world. At our Strengths & Story workshop, we can take participants through the process of choosing a few brand words for themselves. You can do this, too. Pick three words that define your personal value and how you want to be seen by the world and then hold yourself to them. In business, great brands succeed because they know who they are, what they have to contribute, and then they deliver on it over and over again. Learn from them. Know your brand and consistently demonstrate it to your employer.

 

Tip #5: You Must Learn How to Tell a Connective Story

Finally, to get promoted at work you must learn how to tell a connective story. And not just any story. The story you tell others about yourself must provide value for them so you can connect with them. Remember even though you’re talking about yourself, it’s not about you. Not every story is for every situation. You need to tailor your story to suit your audience and their needs.

Telling a connective story is also not just about what you say. Listening and receiving feedback is just as important as the words leaving your lips. People love people who want to help themselves so be open to receiving suggestion and even criticism. As hard as it may be for you to hear what they have to say, allowing the other person to talk will help build a connection. And when you can connect and make it about them, you will win.

 

Need help? Call (858) 314-9867 to make this the year you stop hoping for the best and start working for it! Sign up for individual coaching and claim your promo code for our next Strengths & Story workshop on January 22nd!

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  1. Know the Power of Relationships
  2. Build a Better Relationship With Yourself
  3. Tell a Connective Story

To Crush 2019, Build a Relationship with Yourself

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yes, you. Really!

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

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

Want to Have Your Best Year Yet? Lead With Gratitude

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

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

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

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

 

How to Show Gratitude to Your Peers

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

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

 

How to Show Gratitude to a Mentor

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

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

 

How to Show Gratitude to Your Employer or Boss

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

 

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

Passion and Power: A Generational Divide

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Hi, how are you?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Understand the Millennial Myth

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

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

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

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

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

Discover How Reverse Mentoring Will Bridge the Generational Gap

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

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

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

—Ethan Wall, President / The Social Media Law Firm

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

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

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

Get Tools to Create a Reverse Mentorship Environment

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Who could argue with that?


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

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!