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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..
Real deal, kick-butt, core leadership skills remain a major issue as the Millennial generation recasts the workforce. One study found only 4% if Millennials were interested in managing others, which ain’t many.
Despite their lack of enthusiasm about leadership, nearly 50% of Millennials are managing four or more people. And that is great! The issue is that their companies are not preparing them for those leadership roles. In Deloitte’s 2016 Global Human Capital Trends study, 28% of companies report weak leadership pipelines and only 7% of companies believe they are “excellent” and developing Millennial leaders.
And that, my friends, is a problem.
It’s clear that Millennials need to look elsewhere for the support they need to become the leaders they are capable of being.
To do our part in helping the next generation, my team and I distilled our combined 100 years of experience into seven leadership hacks Millennials can use to kill it as leaders right out of the gate.
Hack #1: Your Job is to both Learn and Teach = So Always Admit When You Don’t Know
As a young leader, you may feel that you have to have the perfect solution to every problem that arises and that admitting you don’t know something will make you look weak or unprepared for your role as a leader.
But in reality, the exact opposite is true.
People don’t respect leaders “who pretend” to know everything. It is super easy to see through that charade and ultimately it hurts your credibility. Your team wants to know you care enough to be honest, learn, lead and fail. They want to help you grow!
Strong leaders comfortably balance a combination of vulnerability and confidence. They admit when they don’t know something and they use the people around them to help develop and execute solutions to problems. It takes “real deal” confidence, strength and humility to admit that you do not know something and figure it out anyway.
Ultimately, that is the type of leader everyone wants around them. If your idea of being a leader is that of a hero leading his troops into battle, think again. What you will find out quickly about leadership is that most of the time it is not glamorous.
At launchbox365, we find the best leaders are most often playing the field, doing the grunt work to make sure their team is pointed in the right direction, that their people have the resources and support they need to do their job as effectively as possible, and making sure everyone is engaged in their work every day.
Real leaders put in the effort to make sure everyone else can perform at their very best. For every employee who shines, there is an excellent leader who helped put them in a position to succeed.
Hack #2: Ask Great Questions
The most powerful tools we have are the ability to serve others and build relationships. You cannot do either without asking great questions.
If you think back to people who you feel the strongest connection to, they are probably people who spend the most time asking you about your favorite topic: you! Why is that? Because question asking demonstrates you care, puts you in learn-and-serve mode, and allows you to more effectively share your perspective, ideas and solutions.
Use this strategy with your own people. Take the time to ask questions and understand what they need from you. Your reward will be genuine connections with your people, and there is no better feeling than that.
Hack #3: Understand and Find the “Right” Mentors
There is no doubt there will be times as a young leader that you will be lost; it just comes with being young. You will be frustrated. You will feel that you are failing. You will wonder if you are up to the task of leading people. You might feel like quitting. It is called life.
And it is at these times that you need to teach yourself that you can figure it out. My partner calls it (“FIO”ing). Self-soothe by having the right mindset. That means understanding the challenges you face enough to ask the right people for help and then turning to those more experienced people for real and specific advice and perspective.
Mentors come in all shapes and sizes and at all levels, both personally and professionally. Your job is to understand which mentors can provide value and at what time. That means knowing exactly how they can help you. Remember: the most important quality in a mentor is that they push you, they ask you tough questions, they help you focus on what you can control and how to attain and retain a positive mindset.
If you’re smart and allow it, they will be there for your highest highs and your lowest lows, guiding you with the perspective of someone who has already traveled the road you are embarking on.
Hack #4: Be Real & Authentic – Emotions & Vulnerability are Important Leadership Qualities
I have never been one to sugarcoat things and that includes my own feelings, doubts, and emotions. I have always believed that people have much greater respect for authenticity than they do for thinly veiled fake-calmness or understanding.
Be real and authentic with your people, they will appreciate it. When you are vulnerable and open people tend to trust you more. Trust is the basic currency of connection we use as humans to create deep relationships that last.
You are a human and so are your people. This doesn’t mean you need to be Ron Burgundy constantly locked in a box of emotion. But you can tell your people from time to time what you are stressed about, or concerned about, or feeling. It makes you seem human, opens up a dialogue that goes beyond work, and helps you connect more deeply with the people you work with.
Hack #5: Understand and Create Grit
I love people who have grit. When you cross paths with someone who is gritty, you know it right away. They are tough, scrappy, and they get shit done no matter the obstacles in their way.
And they do it with a smile on their face.
People respect leaders who are gritty. If you want to earn your team’s respect, show them you aren’t afraid to get your hands dirty or to go the extra mile to deliver results. Grit is simply an attitude: it is about how far you are willing to go for your team to succeed.
And when you are gritty, your people will quickly follow suit.
Hack #6: Listen, Write It Down and Make It Known
Nothing frustrates people more than feeling their concerns are not being heard or their needs are being forgotten. As a new leader, the quickest way to earn credibility with your people is to make sure they know their opinion, concerns, or perspective are valued.
That is why we recommend not only listening but also writing down people’s ideas or concerns and making sure they know that you wrote them down.
When people see you actively listening and taking notes on what they are saying, there is a greater sense that you are taking their concerns seriously. And that can make a huge difference in your people’s willingness to confide in you and the amount they trust you to act on their behalf.
Hack #7: Enjoy the Experience!
Don’t forget to enjoy your experience as a young leader! If you see it as an opportunity, which it is, it shows. The learning curve may be steep, but the opportunity to lead others is a professional development opportunity unlike any other. Being a leader will put you face to face with unique challenges, your personal insecurities, and force you to overcome it all. It is a big responsibility, but you will ultimately be grateful for the opportunity. Promise.
Tis the season! Though most holidays lessons surround consumerism, including the inane Black Friday extravaganzas, and fighting with family, it is also the season of volunteering, charity work, and giving. We call it Contribution
And with those themes in mind, it was is important to once again defend the next generation and remind business leaders of one of the most under appreciated Millennial traits: their need to give back: Contribution.
You may not know it, but Millennials are big on donating both their time and their money.
And remember, this is the generation with the worst financial prospects in recent history. Yet, Millennials are finding ways to give on top of student loans, stagnant wages, and rising costs of living.
Not only that, they truly believe their time, effort, and money will make a difference. According to the 2017 Millennial Impact Study, 70% believe they can affect positive change in the world.
Though Millennials want to assume the responsibility of fixing the world, they know they can’t do it alone. And that comes through in their approach to employers and their brands. They push hard and demand their Contribution efforts to be supported by both their employer and the brands they love. And if hey don’t Millennials jump ship, and quickly, and with their friends. And that my friends cost businesses big bucks.
Millennials Need their Employers and Brands to Join Them in Contribution
Millennial’s believe they can change the world through their actions and they want their employers and favorite brands to feel just as passionately and act socially conscious through yes,: Contribution.
The Harris Interactive study discussed above showed that 55% of Millennials said that a brand’s CSR reputation sometimes affects (34%) or has a strong effect (17%) on their decision to make a purchase. Another study found that a staggering 80% of Millennials wanted to work for a company that cares about how it impacts and contributes to society.
Making the connection between Millennial’s emphasis on feeling engaged at work and their desire for their work to be meaningful, companies have increased their investment for developing and increasing their CSR policies in an effort to attract Millennials as professional talent and consumers.
How Brands and Employers can Meet the need for Millennial Contribution
Employers and brands can’t just talk-the-talk when it comes to CSR: Millennials and Gen Z expect concrete and authentic examples of ways that companies and brands are thinking about the environment and their communities.
And this is a great thing! There are several different ways to get your brand involved with nonprofits and provide the opportunities to give that Millennials love.
Become a Corporate Partner Becoming a corporate partner with a non-profit is a total win-win. With a partnership in place, your employees will have far easier time knowing how and when they can help, a big barrier to volunteering for 45% of Millennials. And for the non-profit, it means a bit more stability, resources, and visibility, all which help them further their mission.
Organize Team Building Around Giving Happy hour isn’t the only team building activity out there. Encouraging and supporting volunteer groups is a great way of getting people spending time with each other outside of the office. Whether co-workers form their own giving coalition or it is a once a year get together, helping others is a great environment for bonding with colleagues.
Get them Involved Millennials don’t just want to give money. They want to be part of the change and actually feel they made a difference. They measure themselves based on that giving and it means something real to them. Provide them with opportunities to lead through direct impact and the doing. They want to become leaders in Contribution. They need to be able to have a tangible relationship with Contribution that is derived from an experience. Make sure your Contribution plans include real experiences they can touch and feel and are memorable (video and social media won’t hurt) and make sure they are authentic and transparent.
Integrate with Important Causes Whether you are a company like Intel that can donate 141 million dollars to energy conservation projects or a small coffee shop offering free coffee for a bucket of plastic picked up off the beach, there a thousands creative ways that you can integrate giving into your business model. Pick a cause that matches well with your company and begin brainstorming what you can do everyday to support your cause.
Millennials want to be engaged in meaningful work that impacts and they want to see, hear feel, and taste that they are impacting the world in a positive way. Integrating giving, volunteering and outreach opportunities is a great way to provide a sense of working for a greater cause in the office. By the way, please let them lead that charge they will not let you down.
And plus, a workplace where everyone is focused on helping other makes for a pretty stellar work environment.
Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team and then went on to become the greatest basketball player of all time.
Amazon.com started with one guy selling books from his garage and then went on to become arguably one of the most powerful companies on the planet.
J.K. Rowling’s story about a teenage wizard was rejected by 12 publishers only to go on to become a brand worth $25 billion dollars.
You have likely heard one, if not all, of these stories. Why is that? Because storytelling is a uniquely powerful tool for humans.
From explaining which berries are safe to eat to which brand of shoes to buy, stories have played a critical role in human history. They become part of our culture and motivate people unlike anything else. But we seem to have forgotten the most important aspect of storytelling: it isn’t just for billion-dollar brands. Each of us has our own unique story and we can use that superpower of telling our story to appeal to, connect with, create trust, build relationships, and empower others.
Whether you are preparing for job interviews or trying to cut through the noise as you start a new business, identifying, refining, and sharing your story is the most effective way of getting the attention of others and getting them to connect with you on a personal level.
Identifying Your Story
I know what you are thinking, I hear it from clients all the time. You’re thinking I don’t have a personal story and by the way I hate talking about myself in private, let alone in public. There is nothing really that special about me, after all, I have never traveled the world or climbed Mt. Everest or saved a school bus full of children. What interesting story could I possibly tell about myself that will make a difference?
What is important to realize is that telling a good story doesn’t require anything miraculous. Just make it authentically you while focusing it on your audience and you will win every time! Just watch any great comedian: a comedian can make a thousand people laugh hysterically talking about mundane things that we all do everyday. Your personal story can be equally as ubiquitous and powerful as a comedian’s joke.
The key to developing a powerful personal story is to identify the things that make you unique and that demonstrate the value you can bring to others via a personal relationship, client or an organization.
If you aren’t sure where to start, you can begin by answering a few simple questions about yourself:
Who Am I? Where was I born? Where do I come from? Who is my family? What is my background? What am I grateful for? And what or who has made me who I am? What makes me, well, me?
What Is My Experience? What work have I done? What am I inspired and motivated by? What am I passionate about? What have I had to overcome and what are my triumphs?
What Value Do I Bring? What am I good at? What are my special skills? What has made me unique and special? Why do people love me, and what do I do to maintain that? What kind of attitude do I have? What can I do for others? What makes me successful that is not about my technical experience?
We spend everyday with ourselves and sometimes we forget what makes us special. After answering these questions, a few unique personal events, values, and passions should emerge about yourself that that you may have forgotten. These will form the foundation of your personal story which is pure connection currency.
With all the pieces of your personal story laid out in front of you, the next step is to assemble it into something that can really pack a punch.
Assembling Your Story
After thinking about the above questions, you should have an idea of what your personal story might be. But it might still be a bit raw, a random assortment of personal facts.
Your personal story should be the answer to the following question: how would you explain your personal story in a way that is brief, interesting, and that people can connect with?
Your personal story isn’t a script per se, but instead a framework or outline for how you present yourself. As an example, maybe you have overcome a difficult childhood experience that now fuels you to help others. Your story would explain why that particular event fuels you, what you learned from it, and how you are using that experience to help others.
While this example story would be unique to you, anyone could connect with it because everyone faces challenges at some point in their life. Overcoming challenges is a part of the human experience. And that is the purpose of your story: to give people a chance to connect with you over a shared experience and foster a genuine relationship
Share Your Story Every Day
From recent college graduates to ex-Marines, I work with people all the time who have an amazing personal story, who know they have an amazing story but, before working with us, simply never tell it.
And this is tragic because their stories are so powerful. I, for one, use my personal story everyday to motivate my colleagues, pitch potential clients, connect with my current clients, or just start a conversation at the gym. It is my offering to others for them to latch on to, connect and identify with, and use as a way to bridge the gap between others.
Your story can do the same. Whether you are speaking to an interviewer or a potential client, your listener is going to feel differently about you if they feel they share a genuine connection with you. You become “the guy who overcame X…” or “the young women who successfully did Y.” And that is exactly what you want.
Storytelling is an art and the people I coach to help develop their personal story put a lot of time and effort into developing it into something that maximizes its punch. It can take over 100 times practicing your story to get it right. After they put the work in, telling their story becomes natural and a critical tool that they can use in an endless number of situations, helping them to make important connections every single day. It is the absolute secret to getting the guy, the girl, the sale, the promotion, the win, the mentorship!
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.
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.
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 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 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 at858.314.9867 or email@example.com.
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.
The question most employers have about Millennial employees boils down to this:
What the hell do I do with them? Isn’t there a simple solution that can make them happy so I don’t have to engage with them?
Employers complain about Millennial employees being woefully unprepared for the workforce and lacking essential professional skills. But employers also need to keep their Millennial staff around to replace senior staff as they retire, help with knowledge transfer, and create the workplace of the future, all while avoiding the high costs that come with Millennial turnover.
How do you keep these fresh-graduates and future leaders engaged in their work, feeling valued, provide them opportunities to develop their skills, and allow them to make an impact on the company, all while minimizing costs?
One possible solution comes from Japan.
Kaizen, The Theory
Imagine a stereotypical mid-20th century manufacturing plant: A CEO or other heads of the company make decisions about how the plant runs and the employees on the production floor change their behavior according to the orders they receive from the top. Improvements in this scenario are often made through large-scale, expensive, and reactive changes.
But if you were to go to a Toyota plant during the same time period (and now), you would find something very different.
Employees on the production lines carry out their tasks much like their American counterparts, but there is an important difference: the employees on the production floor in Japan regularly meet together, identify issues, discuss suggestions on how to make the production process more efficient, and then they execute those small improvements.
This process of bottom-up continuous improvement is called Kai (change) Zen (good). Developed in Japan by Toyota after WWII, Kaizen can refer to any efforts where small optimizations are continuously made to produce large-scale improvements over time.
The idea is that employees closest to a given process are in the best position to make suggestions for improving that process. Individual employees are empowered to ask “how can this be done better?” or “how can we do this better?” Employees are often then grouped in Kaizen Groups, which regularly meet to share the issues they have identified during the course of their work, present and discuss solutions, and then execute those solutions on their area of the business.
Over time, these small, proactive, incremental improvements across an entire company’s operations can make a big difference in quality and efficiency.
Though they were created as a tool to achieve lean production, Kaizen Groups can be repurposed to help engage Millennial staff in your workplace by creating Millennial Kaizen Groups. The rationale is that Kaizen is the ultimate form of Professional Development and that is exactly what Millennials need to stay engaged at work.
How to Create and Utilize Millennial Peer to Peer Kaizen Groups
Creating Millennial Kaizen Groups is fairly straightforward. A Kaizen Group is formed with a few younger staff and the group is tasked with developing lists of issues that they come across during the course of their daily work. The team regularly meets together to discuss the issues they identify as well as develop proposals for solutions to those issues.
Every two weeks (or however often is appropriate), the Millennial Kaizen Group meets with senior staff and upper management (as high up in the hierarchy as possible) and presents their list of identified issues as well as their solutions to those issues. Senior staff then have a chance to provide feedback and insights on the solutions presented and the group works together to decide which solutions are feasible and why.
Any solutions that are accepted by the senior management team are then executed by the Kaizen Group and the results of the optimizations are tracked and regularly reviewed. The cycle then continues with the group regularly meeting, making proposals, developing plans of execution with senior staff, and reviewing the results of those changes.
Why Millennial Peer to Peer Kaizen Groups Can Work
Forming Kaizen Groups in this way is a simple but powerful way of engaging Millennial staff and has a host of benefits for younger staff and the company as a whole.
Group members are more engaged in their daily work, constantly seeking ways that the processes or tools that they work within can be improved.
Real Feedback on Their Ideas:
Group members have the opportunity to see how their ideas stand up to the scrutiny of senior management and learn from the holes that senior staff poke in their ideas.
The Kaizen Group regularly gives a formal presentation to senior staff. It’s an opportunity to practice their communication and presentation skills, two skills employers feel younger staff severely lack.
Sense of Value:
Even if their ideas are rejected, the Kaizen Group has the opportunity to be heard by upper management, an important demonstration that the younger staff are valued.
Increased “Peer to Peer” Camaraderie:
The Kaizen Group works together closely to pool issues, create pitches, develop solutions, and work as a team.
Sense of Purpose through Impact:
The group enjoys a sense of making a genuine impact as a result of the proposals that are approved and implemented.
Millennial Peer to Peer Kaizen Groups benefit senior staff and the company as a whole as well. These groups are a chance for senior management to provide feedback on the group’s ideas and the presentation of their ideas, walk them through any areas where their ideas are lacking, and mold them for the mindset of the company. Millennial Kaizen Groups are a rare opportunity for senior staff to evaluate their younger talent (and their ideas) up close and critique their thinking, an important aspect of mentorship and training many Millennials crave but often lack in the workplace.
And, in the instances where the group presents a good solution to an issue, the company is improved in small ways that can have a large impact over time with little to no monetary investment.
American and British car companies, sick of playing catch-up to the Japanese, were eventually forced to adopt Kaizen into their own production processes. Companies struggling to keep their young talent from walking out of the door should feel a similar pressure. Millennial Peer to Peer Kaizen Groups have the potential to ease generational tensions and develop young talent at little to no cost.
Millennials control $660B in spending and are often included in family purchasing decisions. I like to say it’s not just that millennials have the power, they are the power. In recent years, while a lot of companies weren’t watching, millennials have been on a murderous rampage of individual brands and even entire industries. In their wake, they have left the remnants of those that were unsuccessful in understanding Millennial’s lifestyles, budgets, and the causes they care most about most.
Employers and brands have had to evolve to not only better attract and recruit Millennials, but retain, manage, and motivate them. Some have done better than others. Those that stood firm in their ways have been left to fight over the scraps of talent after the best have been picked over by more Millennial-minded talent seekers.
What can we learn from failure? Failed brands, industries, and employers offer a valuable learning opportunity for others.
Authenticity, Authenticity, Authenticity
Authenticity is priceless to Millennials. For proof, just ask Abercrombie, Aeropostale, or Hollister about their recent sales figures. These brands — with their heavy emphasis on logos, formulaic branding, and skinny-only floor workers — quickly fell out of favor with Millennials. Focus-grouped to death, they projected a comically manufactured mainstream “cool” that Millennials quickly called B.S. on and now their sales are cratering.
Cool brands don’t speak to all Millennials, they speak directly to their Millennials—the specific Millennials who are going to buy the brand’s goods or service. These brands speak in a voice that their Millennials identify with. They appear in the places that their Millennials spend their time and they establish a relationship with their Millennials that feels organic.
Employers interested in capturing Millennial talent need a similar mindset to the brands Millennials connect with. From the perks employers offer, to the way they handle recruitment, to the tools they use in the office, employers need to create a work environment that reflects the world Millennials exist in outside of their 9-5. Demonstrating an understanding of how Millennials think, work, and see the world will do wonders for employers’ efforts to attract young talent.
Key to companies who succeed in selling to or employing Millennials is the fact that they realize Millennials aren’t a homogenous demographic or psychographic, but instead are a diverse group of individuals.
Saving Time is a Major Selling Point
Time might be the hottest commodity on the market for Millennials. An emphasis on time-saving has meant trouble for time-sucks, like golf and sit-down restaurants, that don’t cater to the on-the-go Millennials lifestyle.
In their place, massive brands like Uber and Tinder are cashing in on the Millennial need to streamline every aspect of their lives. Brands that are able to provide concrete, time-savings, and convenience can be confident they will have a steady flow of time-pressed Millennials as customers.
For employers, this emphasis on time means employers must make the effort to improve outdated office dynamics and procedures. Eliminating meetings with communication tools like Slack, utilizing Google Drive rather than Microsoft Word, and updated office policies are all ways to cater to a Millennial generation that has grown up with the world at its fingertips.
Brands Beware – Millennials Change the World!
Millennials care about the world and they are willing to pony-up for the causes they believe in.
And they expect the same from the brands that they buy from and the employers they work for.
According to a Harris Interactive study, 55% of Millennials said that a brand’s CSR reputation sometimes affects (34%) or has a strong effect (17%) on their decision to make a purchase. In recent years, this has created a predicament for brands like the NFL with concerns over the health of its players and the oil Industry with its effects on the environment.
Employers aren’t off the hook either: in a study of 1,800 13-25 year old, 80% wanted to work for a company that cares about how it impacts and contributes to society.
If brands can tie themselves to the causes their target Millennial consumers care about and demonstrate they want to work with Millennials to help make the world a better place, it will be easier it will be for them to make organic connections with their target audience.
For employers, it is about having an actionable and visible CSR policy which includes volunteer and community impact opportunities for young talent, something Millennial workers highly value when seeking work. Whether it is volunteer opportunities, charity competitions, or other ways of giving back, community outreach is a big selling point for young people hoping to change the world.
Brands – keep this in mind: Millennials are poor.
The class of 2016 averaged about $37,172 of student debt. As a result, industries like real estate, designer bags and clothing, high-quality furniture, and luxury items (like motorcycles) have taken a hit to their bottom line.
For brands, helping alleviate traditional costs, — Zipcar and Airbnb being prime examples — or offering loyalty programs like Kroger’s, can prove to be important selling points for Millennials already feeling the pinch of their daily expenses.
For employers, perks like public transportation passes, provided snacks or meals, or company discounts can be big attractions for millennials interested in cutting back on as much spending as possible in order to save.
Millennials over the last few years have made their preferences known and it is up to employers and brands to pivot their marketing, offerings, and corporate policies to attract talent. Otherwise, they will end up in the graveyard alongside oatmeal, Hollister, and the oil industry. And that is no place you want your brand or company to be.
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.
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
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.
Imagine if there was something lurking in your business that was costing you hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars every year, was detrimental to your company culture, and negatively impacting every facet of your business. You would probably spring to action to fix it right?
Well, Millennial turnover is that “something”.
Yet, when I talk to CEOs, business leaders, and partners at law firms, they often seem unaware of the extent to which Millennial turnover impacts their business. When we talk about Millennial turnover, we are talking about historically low retention rates of young talent across industries that cost mid to large sized companies and firms millions of dollars a year and billions of dollars to the US economy. Millennial turnover is not something for CEOs or industry leaders to grumble about and sweep under the rug. It negatively affects company culture, staff morale, innovation, productivity, and every other aspect of a business. The total impact on your business may astound you.
And once those Millennials leave, they need to be replaced. That replacement process includes advertising costs, interview costs, training costs, and a host of other onboarding related costs. Depending on the industry, these direct costs of replacing millennial staff can add up to anywhere from $15,000 at the low end to 50% to 200% of an employee’s annual salary at the higher end.
Can you say “OUCH”?
Those are staggering numbers. And with Millennials continuing to enter the workforce over the next few years and Gen Z on the workforce horizon, the direct costs associated with employee turnover may increase.
Those are only the direct costs.
Indirect Costs of Millennial Turnover
What happens when an employee leaves?
“…Turnover causes financial strain on organizations while they recruit and train new employees… disrupts organizational efficiency…can threaten the implementation and sustainability of new initiatives… likelihood of turnover among remaining staff increases when stress is high and coworker support is low…”
Let’s appreciate what the authors are saying for a second. Millennial turnover causes increased financial strain, decreased efficiency, disruption of new initiatives, and increases in turnover of the staff who are still working there.
Basically, Millennial turnover negatively impacts every imaginable aspect of a business or company.
And don’t forget, even once the Millennial moves on, you are not out of the woods yet.
The people who replace the Millennials who leave your company need time to get onboarded, trained, and brought up to speed before they can start contributing at max efficiency. This process can take between three and seven weeks according to a Millennial Branding survey, causing months of suboptimal performance.
Once CEOs and business leaders realize the extent of the Millennial turnover issue, it is as if they just realized their gas tank has had a giant hole in it for the last 20 miles. They jump to action, asking us at Launchbox365 to help them to reshape retention and engagement..
And through the new training and development needed: coaching and mentorship from the inside-out, our team is able to to help them connect with their Millennial staff and provide the professional development and work environment and experience Millennials crave, reducing their Millennial turnover.
But the first step to getting help is admitting you have a problem. Business leaders must first appreciate Millennial turnover for what it is: a million dollar issue that negatively impacts every aspect of their business.