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!

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..

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.

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 “M” Word (Millennial): Reverse Ageism at its worst…

We know that making sweeping generalizations about any group of people being “lazy,” “unprofessional,” “unreliable,” or “narcissistic” is repugnant. Unless we are talking about the dreaded “M” word,  Millennials. Then, apparently, it’s okay.    

After years of having their generation smeared by Baby Boomers, Gen X, and the media, Millennials are perceived negatively as professionals at first glance.

Millennials often enter a workplace climate in which it is okay to make negative assumptions about the quality of work they can produce, the professionalism they will display, and their dedication to their job.

It is called Reverse Ageism and it presents a serious hurdle to young talent in your office no matter how capable they actually are.

And the problem is not cost-free. The impact of these negative stereotypes contributes to high turnover rates of Millennials, costing the US economy billions of dollars every year and negatively impact the productivity and culture of individual organizations.  For an organization with 50,000 employees, 40% of which are Millennials, this can be a billion dollar problem annually – billion with a B.

With generational tensions already high, it is important to understand the extent of the negative stereotyping of Millennial professionals and how you can help rid your workplace of Reverse Ageism.

The Problem of Reverse Ageism

Regular stereotyping of Millennial workers in pop culture and offices alike has led to socially acceptable age-discrimination against younger staff. According to a report titled  Discriminating Against Millennials in the Workplace Analysis on Age Discrimination Against Young Adults, Millennials face a perception in the workplace from older staff of being “entitled, hard to train, and uncommitted to their position of employment.”

And this perception has real ramifications for the young talent in your office.

In their paper Too Old or Too Young? The Impact of Perceived Age Discrimination, authors Ed Snape and Tom Redman cite a study which found that “being seen as untrustworthy and being given less responsibility were common” among undergraduate business students. And that is if they are hired at all; experts now cite a hesitancy in employers over hiring younger staff.

Even worse, this is happening at the beginning of Millennial’s careers, right when they need opportunities to learn, develop, and hone their professional skills the most. But too often they are never given those opportunities, forcing them to leave their employer —re-confirming the ‘job-hunting’ stereotype— and continuing the negative cycle at their next job.  

Reverse Ageism Is a Million Dollar Problem for Companies

Ageism isn’t just a bummer deal for Millennials. If you are a mid to large sized company, reverse ageism could potentially be costing you millions of dollars, your most productive employees, and ruining your company culture.

On average, Millennials stay in a role for 1.3 years, which Gallup estimates costs the U.S. economy $30.5 billion annually. That’s a ton of coin.

And money isn’t the only loss for companies. Recruitment costs, onboarding costs, loss of productivity from watching colleagues leave, and lower productivity of new hires all negatively affect a company, its culture and its bottom line. Not to mention these young staff that are leaving are often more productive than senior staff and almost universally less expensive to hire, hurting your bottom line even further.

These are real costs to your company, but they are fixable. They require thought, time, investment and a commitment to emphasizing the strengths of your Millennial staff and helping the five generations working together today to bridge the gaps between them and leverage their unique strengths.

Millennials Have Unique Gifts and Gaps

Unlike the other four generations in the workplace, Millennials have a unique set of talents and disadvantages: what they may lack in interpersonal skills they make up for in fast research through collaboration, for example.  They have real strengths as employees. It is certainly true that they may not have the industry knowledge of a 30-year veteran, but that doesn’t mean they can’t bring powerful value to your organization.

For one, while it may be true Millennials lack some essential professional skills, they are happier than any other generation to develop and hone their skills given the chance. Gallup found that 87% of Millennials believe “development is important in a job” and development opportunities regularly score higher than pay when Millennials rank the benefits of a job.

Millennials are also fantastic when it comes to problem solving using technology, are very strong collaborators, and are professionally curious. The point being, while they may not be walking into your office on the first day of work as perfectly polished professionals, they have the eagerness and desire to learn that should allow you to sculpt them into the exact type professional you think will thrive in your organization.

The catch is that they know when they are liked, wanted, respected and valued.

Investment really is the key. Employers who want to put a stop to both the generational tensions in their office and the high turnover rate of Millennials need to take the time to train the enterprise to bridge generational gaps. That process starts with providing Millennials with the training opportunities that develop their professional skills and make them feel that they are valued in the workplace and gives them a sense of progressing as professionals.

We suspect you might even be surprised by what they can do.  

How to Prepare Your Workplace to Attract Gen Z Talent

Have you worked tirelessly to establish a workplace environment and policies perfectly tailored for attracting Millennial talent?

If so, great work! It’s time to do it again.  

Gen Z, a generation of 60 million young Americans born between 1996 and 2011, is now only a few years away from entering the workforce.

And if you assume Gen Z will be similar to Millennials with the hopes that your Millennial workplace will satisfy the Gen Z workforce, you may be sorely disappointed.

Here is what you need to know about Gen Z to prepare your workplace for their arrival and to avoid missing out on the wave of young talent they are sure to bring.

Who is Gen Z?

Born after 9/11, knowing nothing of the dark pre-social-media age, and raised in a recession while playing videogames with their unemployed Millennial siblings, Gen Zers are a distinct generation all their own.

Coming of age amidst the Great Recession and wars in the Middle East, their place in history has molded the traits that define Gen Z.  Traits which, as Alex Williams notes in the New York Times, more closely resemble the Baby Boomers than any other recent generation.

They are a generation that wants stability. They want to make an impact on the world. They value authenticity. They are socially accepting. And they also show signs of being fairly nice compared to other generations.

And that is all well and good. Many employers will be excited about welcoming any generation other than Millennials. But how do employers cater to this young and massive generation?

Loyalty and Stability are Critical For Attracting Gen Z

During the last 10 years, Millennials and employers have developed an unfortunate understanding: both see the other as replaceable, and neither expects any long-term loyalty from the other.

With Gen Z, employers may be able to bank on more long-term loyalty. As Jeremy Finch reports on FastCompany, “We found that while Gen Z like the idea of working for themselves, the majority are risk-averse, practical, and pragmatic” and that Gen Z is shying away from the flashiness of developing the next great app and instead “…are biased in favor of financial stability.”

They show their pragmatism through their desire to be trained and invested in by traditional employers. In fact, “84% of new grads expect to receive formal, on-the-job training.”  

The reward for employers willing to invest in Gen Z appears to be loyalty. According to members of Gen Z studied, “62% [saying] they expect to stay at their first job for at least three years,” a far cry from the job hopping Millennials.

This presents a big shift in how employers and employees relate to one another. If you are an employer who does not want to miss out on the talent coming from Gen Z’s, the message is clear: invest in them. Provide them the professional development opportunities they crave and in return for your investment you will receive the loyalty you may not have ever received from Millennials.

They Want You To Help Them Save the World

Gen Zers have made it clear to retailers during their teen years that if retailers want their money, they need to actively demonstrate social responsibility. Think Tom’s shoes or Warby Parker. These are socially conscious companies whose brands are closely tied with their effort to make the world a better place.

And when they hit the workforce, they are going to expect the same from employers.

Though still in college now, employers can expect job interviews with Gen Z to be peppered with questions about your company’s values, its efforts to support the local community, its CSR policy and what volunteer opportunities you offer your employees.

And employers damn well better have a genuine, authentic answer.

Because Gen Z doesn’t just talk the talk: 26% of Gen Zers are already volunteering and 76% are concerned with man’s impact on the planet. They have a genuine belief that they can change the world and they are going to expect their employers to help them in their mission to do so.

Flexibility and Openness for Employers is Big

Though Gen Z is more cautious and willing to succeed within “the system,” they will also be expecting the continuation of progressive workplace policies that emphasize multiculturalism, acceptance of all people, and work-life balance.

Employers need to keep in mind Gen Z’s historical context: they come on the heels of social changes that have seen a 400% increase in multiracial marriages, a 50% increase in multiracial youth, and less emphasis on gender roles. Gen Z has also grown up with a black president, legal gay marriage and the legalization of marijuana in several states.

What does all of this mean?  If employers want the loyalty that Gen Z potentially offers, they need to make sure that their workplace environments and policies reflect the world that Gen Z has been raised in. That includes everything from the obvious (equal pay for men and women) to more creative flexible schedules, telecommuting opportunities, and other work-life balance benefits.

The good news about adjusting your workplace for the incoming Gen Zers is that those adjustments will result in a better workplace environment overall. What workplace couldn’t benefit from more professional development opportunities for staff, starting social conscious and CSR initiatives or making workplace policies more in line with the times?

As I always like to remind people, each generation has its own quirks, but they are all share more similarities than they have differences. It is universal human nature to want to have a meaningful experience at work, have the opportunity to learn, and be accepted by their colleagues. It will be the employers who understand these foundational human values that will be able to evolve fast enough to harness the young talent that sits on the horizon.

 

How to Recognize Your Skills, Passions, and Values to Kick Ass in Work and Life

In last week’s article, we talked about how to identify your strengths and lead with them. Leading with your strengths is the first part of the equation to providing maximum value to others. The second part of the equation involves your skills, passions, and values.

Strengths + (Skills + Passions + Values) = Value to Others

As opposed to strengths (which are natural attributes), a skill is something you have actually learned, honed your ability, and have experience doing that provides a benefit. Skills can be difficult to articulate because it’s not necessarily a natural strength, but something you’ve spent time and energy developing to the point where it is of value to someone or something. A great way to think about a skill is the question WIFT:

“What’s in it for them?”

When somebody asks you what skills you have, you want to respond in a way hat expressed the answer to the WIFT question. By doing so, you go beyond just thinking about yourself, and consider what tools you have and how they are valuable to others (your company, the marketplace, the world, etc.)

For example, when asked what skill someone has, a common response is that they are a “people person.” That answer is weak. It provides nothing about how that skill is of use or value to somebody else. A better way to articulate being a “people person” as a skill is to say “you connect with other human beings immediately, which leads to stronger teams and client relationships.” That is communicating your value. That is a skill. Again, instead of saying you are “punctual,” explain this skillset in terms of WIFT: “I am calm, reliable, and always available to offer support. I am the type of person who is up to speed on deadlines and meetings. I’ll never make you wait or stress, which will allow you to focus on the things that matter most and increase effectiveness and productivity.”

As a business, using the WIFT method to describe skills allows you to communicate clearly to your customers and clients, while also authentically aligning your personal skills to connect better with others and get results for your company.

Passions—They Matter

At launchbox, we don’t believe in hiding your passions and personal interests in the workplace. What defines you at work, defines you personally, and vice versa. The people who are disconnected from what lights them up and makes them hear sing (passions) are the ones who are unfulfilled, stuck, and/or disconnected from their work, organization, or life in general. Identifying and understanding your passions is important because in order to have a great career and be of maximum value, you must align your work with what drives you personally. By seeing where your passions and work/life are out of alignment, you can gain clarity on what you need to do to fix this, and therefore make the changes to increase your happiness and drive.

Often times, people say, “What if I don’t know what my passion is?” I encourage you to forget the word “passion.” Instead, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What are you curious about?
  • What makes your heart sing?
  • What makes you lose track of time?
  • What would you do if money was no object?

Answer each of these questions. These are your passions!

Values

Values are your real-deal-no-BS-what-you-are-made-of principles or standards of behavior. Here are some examples of my own personal values:

  • Empowering others to make a difference
  • Creating value for others and enabling their growth
  • Making meaningful connections

The best path toward shaving a great career is aligning you personal values with a company’s values. The best companies that stand the test of time are the ones that have a clear set of values they live and die by. For example, look at Zappos. They have their “Zappos Family Core Values,” which the company continuously uses to develop its culture, brand, and business strategies.

Zappos Family Core Values

  1.  Deliver WOW through service.
  2. Embrace and drive change.
  3. Create fun and a little weirdness.
  4. Be adventurous, creative, and open-minded.
  5. Pursue growth and learning.
  6. Build open and honest relationships with communication.
  7. Build a positive team and family spirit.
  8. Do more with less.
  9. Be passionate and determined.
  10. Be humble.

Don’t you just love these values? It makes you want to say “duh” when you read the list. Many of these values overlap with mine, and so many others, which have allowed me to have a great career. However, as great as the Zappos values are, you don’t want to adopt theirs. You want to look within yourself and think about what makes you and your company the best versions you can be. Those are your values.

Take the time to identify your values. Pay attention to what you personally care about—what drives you—and use them to express your business values. That’s how you articulate your real-deal-no-BS-what-you-are-made-of principles and standards of behavior. Now, you have the ultimate equation for providing value to others. Whether it be family, friends, bosses, colleagues, business partners, etc., it doesn’t matter…the equation works: Strengths + (Skills + Passions + Values) = Value to Others

Want to know more about how you can kick ass in work and life?

Know Your Strengths And Lead With Them

“Everybody is a Genius. But If You Judge a Fish by Its Ability to Climb a Tree, It Will Live Its Whole Life Believing that It is Stupid.” – Albert Einstein

This classic quote from Einstein reveals an important lesson in both business and life: everybody has different strengths, and in order for all of us to perform our best and excel, we must recognize and utilize our strengths. Gary Vaynerchuk, serial entrepreneur and host of the Daily Vee on YouTube, is also known for his forthright comments on the importance of understanding strengths:

“Bet on your strengths and don’t give a fuck about your weaknesses. You have to understand your own personal DNA. Don’t do things because I do them or Steve Jobs or Mark Cuban tried it. You need to know your personal brand and stay true to it.”

At Launchbox, we tell all our clients: “In order to know how to build, sustain, and maintain great relationships, we must understand the strengths of ourselves and others and how to leverage them effectively. Focus on your strengths—not weaknesses!”

Ok, so you get it now: knowing your strengths is super important. But the reality is most people don’t stop and take a moment to identify their best strengths. Do you know yours? If so, take a moment and write down your top five strengths. There are great online assessments that can help you identify your strengths. (Gallup’s groundbreaking Clifton Strengthsfinder is one that I’ve used and highly recommend. Based on decades of research and experience, Strengthsfinder is an inexpensive yet highly evolved tool for helping people discover their unique combination of strengths.)

If you don’t feel like taking the online test, a great way to find out is to ask the five people closest to you. Text or call them and ask if they’ll tell you what your top five strengths are. Make sure to ask them individually, so they aren’t influenced by each other’s answers.

While my strengths have evolved over the years, when I recently took the Strengths finder assessment, these were my top strengths:

  1. Activator: I make things happen by turning thoughts into action.
  2. Communication: I find it easy to put thoughts into words and am a good conversationalist and presenter.
  3. Strategic: I create alternate ways to succeed and find relevant patterns and issues in any scenario.
  4. Significance: I want to be very important and recognized in the eyes of others as making a difference.
  5. Command: I have presence and want to take control and make decisions.

Once you understand your strengths, you can be conscious of them and make the choice to lead with them. This is how you kick ass. This is how you deliver value to yourself and others in a way that makes a real, quantifiable difference to everyone you interact with. Here are three questions you can ask yourself to leverage your strengths as much as possible:

  1. Where do I kick ass?
  2. I could kick more ass if . . .
  3. Where do I wish I kicked ass?

It’s important to get comfortable with your strengths so you are not going against your true nature. If you kick ass at filming and editing and love it, but you feel like you “should” be good at engineering because that’s what “everyone else is doing,” stop and do some self-reflection. Remember what Einstein said: “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” You are more valuable to your peers, a company, and the marketplace doing video and editing. Why? Because you excel at it and enjoy doing it.

Naturally, people prosper in areas they enjoy (a.k.a their strengths.) Don’t judge yourself based on anyone else’s Instagram or Snapchat or what seems cool. If you are a fish, stick to swimming. If you are a squirrel, stick to climbing trees. Look within yourself, identify what you enjoy and excel at, and lead with those strengths. Not only will your peers benefit, but you will feel much more passionate and motivated about work you enjoy doing.

Curious to know more about discovering and leading from your strengths? Stay tuned for the next article in this series, geared to help you kick ass in work and life. In the meantime, you can check out Chasing Relevance: 6 Steps to Understand, Engage, and Maximize Next-Generation Leaders in the Workplace