Are we getting better?

shutterstock_148727033.jpgCalling all Millennials, again. This week has exposed some serious concerns that I would like to address. You see I am an eternal optimist. I try and usually succeed at finding the silver lining in all situations but at some point I have to begin questioning my own perspective. Today I had the incredible experience of meeting with one of Birmingham’s greatest up and coming CEO’s. We discussed many topics on employee engagement, retention and development. It truly was one of those once-in-a-journey opportunities and I am extremely grateful for his willingness to mentor me on theses subject, but it raised some serious concerns for me. Here is the meat and potatoes of the issue. Millennials have stereotypes; that’s nothing new, but are we doing anything to overcome them? Has my generation, with all their head starts and technology, really just accepted that we are lazy, underachieving and ENTITLED! I hope not, but I’m growing worried.

You guys know my 90/10 rule right; I think that 90% of Millennials are making the other 10% look bad. Sidenote: If you are offended by that, you are probably in the 90%. Seriously it’s like we are wearing those stereotypes around like a medal (note this would just be a participation medal that you didn’t actually earn because that is one of the many things we are stereotypically famous for).

Okay, okay, I’m sorry that I am hating so much on us today but I am frustrated. After my meeting today, it was recommended that I read a blog post written by Jim Cavale, President of Iron Tribe Fitness. Jim’s blog was great and extremely well-written about the difference in generations that you guys have heard me mention so many times before. The jist of his blog was that Millennials are entitled. The CEO I spoke with today recommended the article because he agreed with Jim, and I have been working with companies and their workforce all over Birmingham. Honestly, to some degree I agree with him. So here is what got me on this soap box today, the blog was written in 2013. 3 years ago! Do you know how long that is at the speed our world moves at today? I am alarmed and kind of want to shake someone because it seems like nothing has changed for our generation in that last 3 years to overcome negative traits that we possess.

It is okay to not be good at something at first. It is not okay to keep doing something poorly just because you are not good at it. That’s called settling and it is for chumps. You have got to adapt and overcome. Hear me here, I am not saying that you need to make your weakness your strengths; but I am saying that if multiple people tell you that you stink at follow-thru then you need to do something to improve that. (Thanks for telling me I’m bad at follow-thru, JAMES!) I am bad at follow-thru so I have surrounded myself with people that are really good at follow-thru. I adapted. Do you think it would be okay to go into one of my client meetings and say, “Oh by the way I’m really bad at follow-thru so don’t expect much from me outside our meeting times?” No Way!

shutterstock_305140163.jpgSo it boils down to this, when someone makes you aware of a negative trait or habit that you have, I would recommend that you seek wise council as to whether it is true. Don’t ask your friends who only tell you what you want to hear.   Seek out the people who will be candid with you.   If it is true, then you need to assess how to adapt and overcome.

Well guess what…we are entitled. I prefer to say that we are impatient but it comes across the same to your boss most likely. We get it honestly from our childhood. We grew up in a world of instant gratification (i.e. Instagram sold for a billion dollars!), but what the world is trying to tell us is that it is not okay. It is time (actually past time) for us to adapt and here are some adapting strategies that I recommend.

The fact that you have a job at all suggest that employers are trying to understand you and want to work with you, so you have to give them something to work with.

  1. Stop expecting titles: I don’t know why our generation is so fixated on titles but we all want to be “Director” or “Senior” or “Chief”. I want to make 2 points here.
    1. Titles mean nothing! They don’t change your ability to influence people, and you do not need a title to change the world.
    2. Titles are given in response to actions, not given to create action. If you want a certain title, then you need start acting the part now and then hope the title comes. Act like the Senior Manager, perform like the Senior Manager and one day, YOU WILL BE the Senior Manager.
  2. Stop asking before you think: Repeat after me, “I, {state your name}, am not special.” That’s it. If you can get that, you’ll be set. You or I not being special doesn’t mean we can’t impact the world; it simply means that the change we create was done despite our lack of specialness. So before you go ask for a raise, a promotion, an extra benefit, think about this, “If I were the boss and I had and employee identical to me, would I give them what they are asking for?” Answer it honestly then make our decision on whether to expect something or not.  Think about your actual performance. Analyze your actual productivity levels.   Assess the goals that were set for you and be darned sure you blew them away. Do not ask for anything from management based simply on the internal voice in your head (that sounds an awfully like your Mom) telling you, “You are the best! You deserve everything everyone else has.   You are the most special person in the world. There is no one else like you. “
  3. Start recognizing that it’s about value: You will probably hear me say this a million times if we stay friends long enough but I really do believe you get where you want to go in life by helping others get where they want to go. You job, your company is no exception. How can you add so much value to your company that they would want to give you the things you expect? If you want to be a manager and there is not a position currently available, be patient waiting for an opening and use the time while you are waiting to shine.   Show your management just how valuable you will be as a manager for them. If you truly work to your full potential, then it will be a no-brainer for them to give you that position when the time comes.
  4. Start being patient: Last tip and I’m sorry this seems a bit preachy, but I really recommend this one. Hitch your wagon to a company that you believe in and would want to work with for 40 years and then be patient. If it is a good company, run by good people, allowing you to do what you love, then waiting 5 years for something will be much easier. If your employer aren’t those things I just mentioned, then DON’T WORK FOR THEM! Go find a good company and then be patient with them.

Millennials are entitled and that has to change. Stop accepting this as finite truth. We can change this trait, we should change the trait.  We will benefit in the long-term so much more once we lose this entitled attitude and recognize we have to work for what is worth having.

calebCaleb Bagwell/Employee Education Specialist
John Maxwell Certified Leadership Coach
Grinkmeyer Leonard Financial
Toll-Free: 866.695.5162 / Office: 205.970.9088 
1950 Stonegate Drive / Suite 275 / Birmingham, AL 35242
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If you get me there, I will change the world

chnage.jpg

To digress from the point in the title for a moment, I wanted to share with you why I think I really enjoy blogging. It clearly has nothing to do with my writing ability, instead I think it has everything to do with my inner monologue. In first grade I got in trouble a lot for talking in class. Mrs. Kelly, please accept my apology. 23 years later I believe the reason I talked so much was because if I am awake there is always a conversation going on in my head. Question after question rolls through my head, epiphanies make me smile as I work out problems and to some extent I have learned to keep the talking to appropriate times. I believe the conversations in my head have caused me to ask enough questions that every once in a while I come across one that is worth answering and so I write about them.

The latest came from a fictional, although great, movie called World War Z (yes I’m aware I have poor taste in movies). Brad Pitt’s character, Gerry, has just figured out how to save the world from this horrible contagion but he is on a plane. He approaches the pilot, tells him his plan, and then asks, “Can you get me there?” The pilot nods in agreement and then Brad returns to his seat. For all intents and purposes, “Gerry” is the man with the plan, but for the next 4 hours (played out onscreen in 30 minutes) the pilot was the most important person in the world! In that moment it was totally irrelevant how awesome, hardworking, brilliant, likable, handsome or even how good Gerry’s plan was, he was totally dependent on the pilot.

How often do we find ourselves in this situation in our daily life? As a business owner, manager, parent or pastor we find ourselves with the right plan, the right work ethic, the right material, but we are in one way or another totally dependent on someone else for a part of our journey. I feel like many entrepreneurs may hate this fact but it does not make it less true. This is where your ability to connect and influence people comes in. There is an old saying, I’m not sure who said it first but I heard from Rory Vaden so I am giving him credit, “If you want to go somewhere fast, go by yourself. If you want to go somewhere far, go with others.” In my limited experience on this earth, I can tell you with certainty that anywhere worth going is far and you will undoubtedly need others to get there.

I urge you, no implore you to be mindful of this truth as you move through life and never feel the burden or the falsehood that you can or should do this on your own. You can’t. You were never intended to, so stop trying. You may have to go on parts of your journey alone while you are convincing people of your dream or purpose, but eventually you will need to engage others.

There is no magic mojo that makes you special. This is another fact I think many entrepreneurs will hate. We are all subject to life’s unfairness and trials yet I hear stuff like this all the time from business owners, “Everyone in the company could leave and long as I am here the company would continue.” Really?  How utterly wrong, how arrogant, how sad because the truth is if you build your company that way you probably aren’t going very far. Employees – You wouldn’t be able to pay your bills if it weren’t for your boss.   Bosses – Your widgets don’t get made if it weren’t for your employees so we have to start acting like we all depend on one another. Our individual importance will vary at different times in our lives and in different relationships, but it will never be true that we don’t need others.

I think it is funny to watch people’s reaction when I say I plan to change the world. Generally polite acknowledgment is the response but behind their eyes you see their thoughts. “Awww, that’s nice. He thinks he can do that.” I can, I know I can and I also know that I cannot do it by myself. I need you, whoever you are, to join me in your workplace, at your home, in your church or community to start realizing that we can change the world through the way we interact with one another. My focus will be on your workplace because I want to meet you where you spend a lot of your time, at work, but it will be up to you to take it from there. I can see the difference we can make, I can see the happiness that can come from a good company culture and I can see the ripple effect to the world. So today I say let’s start acknowledging those around us and saying, “If you can get us there, we will change the world!”

Warning this last paragraph is about my faith. If you don’t want to hear about it, you can stop reading now. My intention is to never to offend anyone.

“Woe is he that falls and has no one there to help him up.” Ecclesiastes 4:10

The fact that we will always need others was made clear 2000 years ago when the God of the universe sent His son to die on a cross for you and me. Don’t you see the message in that? Our sin had separated us from God and there is nothing we can do on our own to reconcile ourselves with God. Without His sacrifice there would be no path for us to spend eternity in heaven. We are divinely created to need something we cannot provide on our own.  God programmed us this way.

calebCaleb Bagwell/Employee Education Specialist
John Maxwell Certified Leadership Coach
Grinkmeyer Leonard Financial
Toll-Free: 866.695.5162 / Office: 205.970.9088 
1950 Stonegate Drive / Suite 275 / Birmingham, AL 35242
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25 Interesting Facts About Millennials

Jamie Kertis – our advisor that oversees retirement plan design – wrote a great article last week about Millennials.  Her blog has some fascinating content for human resource professionals, accountants, high-level executives and those who work on retirement plan committees in their company.

I would love to hear from you.   How do you think these factors affect our workforce?

1abThere were 53.5 million Millennials employed in the United States as of May 2015, and by 2025, this generation will comprise almost 75% of the US workforce. Think about that, in less than 10 years 3 out of 4 people who are working in America will be have born between 1980 and 2001.      How much do you know about this upward rising generation other than their stereotype? Yes, they are adults who still like to play video games.   Yes, they have no idea what a typewriter was used for.   And, yes they are technology-dependent, eco-friendly, hipsters who like music that no other generation can possibly tolerate; but there’s more.

Here are 25 things to think about as you recruit, hire and retain Millennial employees:

  1. Pay ranks first among job factors that matter most to this cohort. Meaningful work is second, positive relationships with co-workers third and flexibility fourth.
  2. 82% of Millennials did not negotiate their salary, either because they were uncomfortable doing so or didn’t realize it was an option.
  3. 37% of Millennials left their first full-time job within two years.
  4. 26% said a better salary would have kept them around longer; 17% would have stayed with a clearer sense of how to advance in the organization.
  5. 63% know someone who had to move back home because of the economy.
  6. Millennials list Google, Apple, Facebook, the US State Department and Disney as their top ideal employers.
  7. 94% enjoy doing work that benefits a cause.
  8. 63% want their employer to contribute to a social cause.
  9. 77% would prefer to do community work with other employees, rather than on their own.
  10. 57% want their organization to provide companywide service days.
  11. 47% had volunteered on their own in the past month.
  12. 75% see themselves as authentic and are not willing to compromise their family and personal values.
  13. $45,000 is the average amount of debt carried by Millennials.
  14. More than 63% of Millennial workers have a bachelor’s degree, but 48% of employed college grads have jobs that don’t require a four-year degree.
  15. 70% have “friended” their colleagues or supervisors on Facebook.
  16. $24,000 is the average cost of replacing a Millennial employee.
  17. 15% of Millennials are already managers.
  18. 56% wouldn’t work for an organization that blocks social media access.
  19. 69% believe it’s unnecessary to work from the office regularly.
  20. 41% have no landline phone access and rely solely on their mobile phone.
  21. 65% of Millennials say losing their phone or computer would have a greater negative impact on their daily routine than losing their car.
  22. 29% of Millennial workers think work meetings to decide on a course of action are very efficient. Compared to 45% of Boomers
  23. 54% want to start a business or already have done so.
  24. 35% have started a side business to augment their income.
  25. 80% of Millennials said they prefer on-the-spot recognition over formal reviews, and feel that this is imperative for their growth and understanding of a job.

1a.jpgThere is a lot of interesting facts here. I think we could use them in all sorts of contexts; think about it all specifically in terms of hiring employees and even more important for retaining them. Employee turnover costs skyrocketing. According to the Center for America Progress, the replacement cost of an employee who earns $30,000 to $50,000 a year is 20% of annual salary for those mid-range positions. So the cost to replace a $40k employee would be $8,000. For higher level employees, the replacement costs skyrockets to 150-200%.   For a $100,000 employee, the cost just to replace him/her can be easily $150,000.

The influence of a strong company culture is a huge factor that results can equate to what Gen Xers and Baby Boomers look at as loyalty.   Millennials can be long-term, engaged employees, but not at 1970, 1990 or even 2010 standards.   It is time to make some changes.   It will cost you too much not to.

Sources:

  • Society for Human Resource Management, The Brookings Institution, Dan Schawbel

 

calebCaleb Bagwell/Employee Education Specialist
John Maxwell Certified Leadership Coach
Grinkmeyer Leonard Financial
Toll-Free: 866.695.5162 / Office: 205.970.9088 
1950 Stonegate Drive / Suite 275 / Birmingham, AL 35242
Contact Caleb

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Finding and being a mentor

mentorA mentor is kind of a weird thing for a leader to seek out, don’t you think? Most leaders are so focused on looking like they are in control that the thought of someone mentoring them is almost offensive. “I don’t need a mentor, I am the mentor”, “What would my team think about me if they thought I needed a mentor?” Both of these are common for leaders to say or think and both are not entirely bad thoughts, but I think they generally come with a negative mindset that should be reversed. I was told a long time ago that I should always have a mentor and I should always be a mentor, so to the comment “I am the mentor” you are right, as a leader you should most definitely be a mentor to your team, but that does not mean that you wouldn’t benefit from having someone to speak truth into your life. “What would my team think?” Hmmmm….maybe that you are human, you are always looking for ways to better yourself, that you are humble.   That wouldn’t be so bad would it?

The purpose of having a mentor is to help you grow and mentors come in all shapes and sizes. My father is a mentor, my bosses are mentors, my co-workers are mentors, and some of my friends and family are mentors. I am mostly likely the only one in those relationships that view it as formal but you better believe that I treat their advice and wisdom as gold. Imagine a mentor as someone who is watching a horror movie. From outside the situation, they may be able to see what’s happening in other rooms, piece things together that give clear pictures of what about to happen next, and they may be able to yell at you to not open that door because the killer is in that room. Ever the heard the expression, “I couldn’t see the forest, for the trees”?   Well, mentors are there to help you see the forest.   I take notes, I call with strategic questions, I seek objective, non-biased feedback on any situation that I think carries risk and above all, I LISTEN! In almost every situation mentees will have opinions formulated about the topic they need to discuss, and in doing that they are coming in loaded. Trying hardest to seek advice without projecting and desiring totally honest feedback, even if it is not what you want to hear, is the best way to approach your mentor.   It is the only way that really pays off.

WARNING: Not all people are good mentors! (There I said it.) The art of “projecting” goes both ways and you may run into “mentors” whose advice is coming solely from their opinion or personal experience and it may not be the right solutions for you. Do not confuse their passion for a certain situation for factual advice. You have to use your brain in this as well. Now if you have multiple people telling you the same things, you need to listen.

So what should you look for in a good mentor?

  1. Look for someone who has been where you want to go: Wisdom = Knowledge + Experience if you can find someone that has already achieved many of the goals that you have set for yourself and they are willing to share their experiences with you, you have a heavyweight contender for your mentor! Seriously think about it. My dad always taught me, “A smart man learns from his mistakes, but a wise man learns from the mistakes of others.” Can you imagine the wisdom you can gain from talking to someone that has driven the road necessary to reach your goals and they are willing to warn you where the pot holes are?
  2. Look for someone that will be honest: My mom and I joke about the TV Show, “The Goldbergs”. It’s about this family in the 80s and the mom is always accused of having “Mom Goggles” on. Basically it means that in this mom’s eyes, her kids can do no wrong. In one episode the son wants to be a singer and the mom is nothing but encouraging; but the truth was that he stunk at singing. My mom and I have this relationship, I could call home and say, “Mom I’m going to buy a Subway Franchise on the moon” and she would say, “Aw sweetie that is so great, I’m so proud of you!” Mom I love you! The point here is that kind of encouragement is not always helpful. IN that same lunar Subway situation, a good would mentor would say, “Interesting Caleb, can I ask a few questions about that, like how do your customers get to the moon?” Side note: My mother is brilliant and when her “mom goggles” are not on, she is a great mentor to me.   She is an amazing school teacher and guidance counselor and for 30+ years, she has change the lives of hundreds of people!
  3. Look for someone with your common core beliefs: I think this is very important, while I think you should always be humble enough to accept advice from anyone willing to give it; you should carefully consider their advice before you use it. The biggest consideration in my opinion is, “Does this person share my convictions and beliefs?” I had the opportunity to meet with a young man trying to make his way into the real estate world. He sought the advice of an older more experienced developer as a “mentor”. It was not long until he realized that their views on the appropriate way to do business were very different. The young man definitely wanted to make money but not at the expense of anyone else, and his so called mentor felt that each person was responsible for taking care of themselves and so if someone else let him take advantage of them then it was their own fault. Needless to say that relationship did not last long.

The mentor/mentee relationship can be a very powerful tool. Imagine if that is the way your department worked. Every new hire, every mid-level manager, every supervisor was being mentored and mentoring for someone else in the office. Zig Ziglar said it best, “The best way to get what you want is to help others get what they want.” To the wise, how can you help someone without as much wisdom? To the inexperienced, how can you humbly ask someone to share their wisdom? Answering those questions my change your life.

calebCaleb Bagwell/Employee Education Specialist
John Maxwell Certified Leadership Coach
Grinkmeyer Leonard Financial
Toll-Free: 866.695.5162 / Office: 205.970.9088 
1950 Stonegate Drive / Suite 275 / Birmingham, AL 35242
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The Costs of Employee Turnover

turnoverYou have heard time and time again how much it costs to replace good employees. I would argue it costs more to replace bad employees that you shouldn’t have hired in the first place, but that’s a different post. The truth is that there is nothing more exciting that having all the right people on the bus sitting in the right seats, and conversely there is nothing more demoralizing than losing a member of a team and having to replace them. Not only do you lose momentum but you lose money too! It actually costs you money to replace employees.

Dr. Kim Ruyle, hosted a webcast on this subject for members of SHRM a national society of Human Resource professionals. In his presentation, he explained that while costs may vary in replacing an employee. To calculate the true costs, you must consider the following variables:

Costs to off-board current employee
+
Costs-per-hire for replacement
+
Transition costs, including opportunity costs, training, loss revenue until full performance is reached
+
Costs from long-term disruption of talent pipeline

To be less scientific about it, the estimate to replace an average employee is 6-9 months’ salary in recruiting and training alone. So picture this, you hire a manager at $50,000 per year, if you fail to engage, grow, and connect with that manager, it will cost you $37,500 to replace them plus the salary of the new hire and loss of income from the turnover.

Are you starting to see the tangible value of developing your culture and your personnel? This cost is exponentially higher when we are talking about losing key employee or position that require special skills. Paige Robinson, Founder and CEO of Will Reed Jobs says, “Replacing talent is expensive and extremely disruptive. Companies are faced with the costs of talent acquisition, as well as, the loss of momentum on key projects. There is rarely a good time for a company to lose key personnel.”

So what can you do to keep good employees? I think there are 3 fundamentals that cause employees to want to stay. These are assuming you have the basic standards met. Example: You have to be competitive in benefits. You cannot create a culture of loyalty and lasting relationships if your people are being under-provided for based on the market value of their skill or talent. Assuming that the compensation package you offer is in line with your employees’’ skills, there are other ways to make your employees want to “stay put”.

  1. Stop assuming they are going to leave you. I see this a lot, where an employer acts off what they assume to be true. “Well, these millennials change jobs almost every 18 months so I should not invest too heavily in them because then I’ll be training my competition.” Listen, I’m sorry you’ve been burned before. This mentality generally comes honest to a boss that invested heavily in someone that burned them, but this thought process is a self-fulfilling prophecy.   When you assume employees are going to leave you, then don’t invest in their long-term success, the employees feel that you aren’t investing in their future with your company, so they leave to find someone who will put faith in them. If you are start giving people the benefit of the doubt, you will for sure get burned, but you will also find and the cream of the crop this way.
  2. Set a path. It doesn’t matter how small or large your company is, employees need to be able to see where they can go. I know the corporate ladder analogy comes with a negative connotation but it has positives too. Employees, especially Millennials, are competitive with themselves and extremely goal-oriented. Show them from the beginning what growth within your company looks like. Show them that with hard work, experience, and time they can get from point A to B then to C, D, E, and F. They need to feel like they always have a chance to achieve something better. For goodness sakes please don’t say things like, “Well you gotta earn your keep before you can advance in this company!” No one is asking for a handout or to skip in line, the next generation employees just want to know if they perform that will you honor your word and allow them to climb the ladder? The great thing about this new generation is that they actually work harder longer if they have something to work toward.   Dangle the carrot.
  3. Show their vision and impact. I told a story of a deckhand that shoveled coal into the engine of steam boat at a leadership summit we held in Mobile, AL earlier this year. The jest of the story is that his job boring, hot and overall pretty terrible, but at the end of the trip the captain calls him up to the bridge and looking out at the dock said this, “Look what you’ve done. Because you were willing to shovel all that coal we made it here safely, and all these families have been reunited. All that cargo for all those businesses made it here and created even more jobs in the community. None of this would have been possible if you weren’t willing and able to shovel that coal.” How do you think that employee felt then? Energized? Appreciated? Loyal? You bet your BB  Q sandwich he did and the same is true for your company. Your employees that aren’t on the front line need to see the impact and the long-term vision they are sweating for. Show them what the company they work for stands for and promise them that if they stay they will be part of the change you are determined to make.

Some companies spend time and resources on planning to replace employees that leave. What if instead that time and budget was spent to create bonds with the current workforce so they don’t want to leave. Starting acting like employees will stay long-term and stop treating them like temporary desk occupants, give them a path to success and a picture of what their future can be, and show how the company vision makes an impact coupled with your sincere appreciation for their hard work. Not only will your company culture improve but these warm fuzzies will reduce your turnover and actually save you money.

calebCaleb Bagwell/Employee Education Specialist
John Maxwell Certified Leadership Coach
Grinkmeyer Leonard Financial
Toll-Free: 866.695.5162 / Office: 205.970.9088 
1950 Stonegate Drive / Suite 275 / Birmingham, AL 35242
Contact Caleb

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The Millennial Mindset – Bridging the Gap

mindsetI am member of the largest, most misunderstood generation this country has ever seen.   Millennials are different than our predecessor generations. We expect a lot from people and from companies.   The stereotype for us is that we addictively play video games and we bounce jobs like we don’t know where we are going or what we want.  We are painted as entitled, lazy, and “know-it-all’s”. And if you are a Millennial, you will read that and cringe because you don’t like how you are automatically portrayed; but you will also personally know of people your age who behave exactly just that way. Let’s face it. 90% of Millennials are making the other 10% look bad!

The reality for many “baby boomer” business owners is that the Millennials are in line to inherit the next generation of your businesses.   That means the company you own or work for right now might be run by one of those nitwit 20-30 somethings in the next 10-20 years. Consider that for a moment, the youngest baby boomer will turn 65 in 2029, that’s only 13 years away.

The issue for management is two-fold.

  1. How do employers attract the 10% of Millennials that are already on the right path?
  2. How do companies create a culture that can motivate their other Millennials (the 90%) to live up to their potential?

Education for both groups is paramount.   Improving communication to allow for real collaboration between a multi-generational workforce will mean ultimately the success or failure of many companies over the next 10 years.   Human Resource departments have to address these issues in now in 2016 not 2020 and certainly not 2029.

Three ideas Millennials want you to know about them.

  1. Look backwards: To better understand this younger generation, consider the environment they grew up in. Author of the book Sticking Points, Hayden Shaw, calls this history “Ghost Stories”. On September 11, 2001, I was sitting in 9th grade Spanish Class when a teacher ripped open our door and frantically yelled at my teacher, “We’ve been attacked in New York.” We watched as our country mourned and then rallied together and, if only for a moment, that sense of community was immensely strong and it stuck with us in a profound way. While still in our formative years, our nation endured what is the worst attack against the country ever and we had to figure out what to take away from it.   We were taught as kids to expect a toy in every meal, have never known anything but technology growing and regrowing every 12-18 months.   New technology gets us incredibly excited but outdated technology is disproportionately more upsetting. We watched our country’s economy grow by leaps and bounds through the 90’s only to graduate from college in 2008 and watch hundreds of companies’ layoff hundreds of thousands of people each month. In that recession, there was no loyalty. Loyalty cost money and companies literally couldn’t afford loyalty. We saw that. We made note of it.   We watched our parents, our aunts, uncles, and our parents’ friends get laid off after years of service for their companies. Now, don’t get mad yet, I’m not bashing companies for doing what they needed to do to survive but I’m trying to get you to see that our lack of loyalty was born from what we learned about employers and companies during the breakdown in 2008. We are the first generation with helicopter moms and participation trophies. We were literally programmed to believe that we deserve more and to not be afraid to ask for it.  So when we want more, we do just that.
  2. Learn to speak our language: We may use the same words as everyone else but we certainly have our own language. Communication is not the same now as it was for most baby boomers when they entered the workforce. Millennials require a bit of finesse. Have you ever heard the saying, “Say no by saying yes”? This was a phrase taught to me in my first sales training class in Houston, TX. The concept is that when someone asks you for something that you cannot, or will not give them, you counter their request by offering something that you are willing to do instead of just saying no. Just because we are needy and feel entitled to ask for too much too soon does not mean that you have to comply, but instead of saying a flat “No”; what if you said it a different way? Now if something is company policy then you should not be expected to bend those rules, but I will challenge you with this. If you are going to play the card, “It’s company policy”, you should know why that is the policy. Is the company actually better off because of that policy or is that just way it has always been done? You can count on the fact that the Millennial employee is going to ask, “Why?” Let’s look at an example. One hot topic recently has been a flexible work schedule/environment. While there is lots of data that shows flexible work hours increase productivity, let’s just assume that your company can not comply with this request. Instead of giving a flat NO to the request, what if you said, “That’s an interesting question and I’ve been asked about it a few times now. Would you be willing to put together some data for me on how that might look logistically for everyone? Build a case and let’s look at it together. I can’t promise anything because we’ve never done this before but I’m willing to look into it.” This doesn’t hold you liable for anything and you might be surprised by what you learn, but ultimately you have allowed them to figure out how it will or will not work on their own. It is just as likely as not that they are going to realize the “Why” during their research and accept that it will not work OR worst case scenario, they figure out how it could work and it increases your productivity, morale and rapport with all employees.   Now, if you are a boss that thinks, “Whatever I say goes and they need to deal with it”, I would be willing to bet you have high turnover, low employee morale, and probably no loyalty in your workforce. You may have to step out of your comfort zone to learn to speak our “language” but the benefits are immeasurable when you consider what it means if you don’t.
  3. Mentor Us: Millennials have what I call “Google Syndrome”. You call it being a “know-it-all”, but it’s the same thing. I timed myself, and in 90 seconds I learned the circumference of the Earth (24,901 miles), the number one sales tip by New York Times, “It’s not what you say, it’s what your customer believes”, I learned the weather forecast for the next 10 days and I learned quite a bit about the best commercial doors you can put in a school for both safety and quality. Between Google and Millennials, we literally do know almost everything. The problem is getting us to see that knowledge does not equal ability. I know how to lift 500 pounds, I’ve watched a video on proper form, but I still cannot lift 500 lbs. Your Millennials need a mentor. They need someone who is willing to harness their enthusiasm and energy and direct it through wisdom. Wisdom = knowledge + experience. Walk softly here though. Be careful to not belittle us. If you are going to breakthrough to a Millennial, you cannot treat them like a kid and say things like, “Just because you read an article on how to do this doesn’t mean you can do it. That takes experience.”  Our mental response is very likely to be, “Well get out of the way and let me try it!” Those failures are ugly. They get lots of press in large companies and do no good.   Instead, set up some opportunities for “controlled fails”.   You are right that we probably can’t do something but at least we read the article, at least we tried to learn.   Don’t kill that enthusiasm, direct it. If you start looking at your workforce as a group of mentees and not employees, you will go much further.

We aren’t as bad as you think and you will need to figure out how to engage us soon if you haven’t already. As a self-proclaimed ambassador for my generation, I promise I’m going to work my hardest to kick us into a new gear. If you are willing to work to attract, harness, and communicate with Millennials, your company will have an almost endless supply of innovation and energy that when guided correctly will literally change the world!

calebCaleb Bagwell/Employee Education Specialist
John Maxwell Certified Leadership Coach
Grinkmeyer Leonard Financial
Toll-Free: 866.695.5162 / Office: 205.970.9088 
1950 Stonegate Drive / Suite 275 / Birmingham, AL 35242
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The Details

This may not be the best blog I’ve ever written from a content prospective but it’s definitely my favorite so far. As I am typing, I am on the beach in a chair with beautiful view and stack of books that I have been dying to finish.

detailsToday I am overwhelmingly impressed with the hotel that we are staying in Rosemary Beach, FL. The Pearl Hotel is a wonderful place to stay and their attention to detail is impeccable. This experience has got me thinking. What if we as employees and business owners treated all of our clients/customers as if we were in the hospitality industry? Example, Jared, one of the hotel’s wait staff met us on the first day. From the first meeting, he has remembered my name and greeted us on every occasion always ending the conversation with, “If there is anything I can do to make your stay better, please don’t hesitate to let me know.” When was the last time we went out of our way to make our clients feel appreciated? When was the last time we asked our clients, our employees, our colleagues, “If there is anything I can do for you, please don’t hesitate to let me know”?

Why do hotels, really nice hotels, exert so much effort on the little things? Jared remembering my name, the housekeeping writing notes to us, thanking us for our business, having sunscreen available to us and water by the pool and on the beach are all things that have made this hotel stick out above most every hotel I have ever stayed at and think about the cost for the hotel to provide that sort of service:

0 dollars to remember my name

50 cents for the note card in my room (maybe!)

3 dollars for sunscreen by the pool

But those are the things I remember most not because they are expensive or luxurious but because it showed me they care enough to think about the little things.

So if you have a client that you get coffee with often, how hard would it be to write down their order and show up a few minutes early next time to have it ready for them when they arrive? If your employees all work outside, how easy would it be to go buy them all sunscreen, obviously the spray kind because no construction worker is putting lotion on their hands! How easy would it be to make sure that everyone in your office has a list with pictures if possible of every client coming into your office each day so as they walk in every single member greets them, BY NAME!!!

I have heard over and over again, Your people are your most valuable resource but that’s wrong. They are you second most valuable resource. The most valuable resource to any company is the consumer that pays for your product or service. If they all go away, then having all the best people in the world won’t matter. Now keep in mind, this type of environment, this dedication to details and over-the-top treatment of clients has to, let me repeat, HAS TO start at the top. If you are not caring and treating your employees with this level of respect, it is unlikely they will treat your customers that way. So this is a challenge or a charge really to put forth more effort, focus on the little things from owner to the new hire and let’s pretend that our companies actually depend on the people we have the privilege to service…BECAUSE THEY DO!

calebCaleb Bagwell/Employee Education Specialist
John Maxwell Certified Leadership Coach
Grinkmeyer Leonard Financial
Toll-Free: 866.695.5162 / Office: 205.970.9088 
1950 Stonegate Drive / Suite 275 / Birmingham, AL 35242
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Developing The Human Resource

dev hrNo, I do not mean the HR department. I literally mean the Human as a Resource. I recently read a quote from a Fortune 100 CEO that said, “Everyone is trying to come up with the right plan, the right plan to grow and prosper, but truth is there are 100 different plans, all of which could work. It’s not the plan that matters as much as the people! We have to get the right people and give them what they need if we are going to succeed.” I have the very distinct pleasure to work with HR professionals on a regular basis and after several years of working with them, all across the southeast, I am concerned that for many companies the HR department has been transformed into a crisis management and staffing department and not what it could or should be.

As companies grow it seems their HR teams get so bogged down with the requirements of keeping the firm running that they no longer have time to actually develop their second most valuable resource, the people working there! Checkout the blog post “The Details” to hear what the number one most valuable resource is. We work for a lot of companies that say, “We went to bed small and woke up big.” They feel kind of like Tom Hanks in that movie BIG. They wish and wish and wish then instead of going home they put their nose to the grind stone.   They hustle for years and then when they look up they are big! I had one CEO owner say in a 401(k) review meeting, “Wait! We have 104 employees? Since when? Geez I guess were not so mom and pop anymore.”

This is happening all over. Companies are growing so fast that HR professionals are having to work like staffing and benefits firms and not like developers of the human resources (employees) and I have stats to prove it! NERD ALERT! Sorry but you should’ve known that you were not getting through an entire post without some nerdy stats. In a Harvard Business Review study from 2015, 61% of over 2900 company leaders’ interviewed said that Training and Developing was one of the most important tasks required of their HR departments, but when those same leaders were asked to rank HR job tasks in order of priority, Training and Development came in 11 out of 16!! Anybody see a problem here? Above that when the same study ranked above-average companies in growth, it recognized they were all engaged in some type of training and development program.

This is what I want you to think about today. If we acknowledge that training and developing your Human Resources is so important, but we also see that most HR teams are too busy or pulled in too many different directions to implement the needed T&D, then we have presumptively left it up to our new hires to “better themselves”. Effectively, this means two things, both of which are problematic for employers.

  1. By skimping on training and developing your employees, you are saying to them, “We are not invested in your long-term success. We needed a widget builder today. We will see if we need a widget manager tomorrow and maybe you’re the girl. We’ll see.”   You are demotivating them by communicating that you don’t have a long-term plan for them as employees. What they need to hear from you is that you appreciate what they are doing and you want to give them ways to grow within YOUR company.
  2. It leaves employees then to their own devices. Not all of your employees want to be the widget manager or even Widget CEO, but the ones that do are the ones that you want around for a long time. If they are not offered ways to get better at work, they will look for ways to get better elsewhere and the side-effect of that can be decreased loyalty. I know this sounds bad and stereotypical but it’s true and I can say it because I am referring to your Millennials and I am one. – I was 3 when BIG came out!

the-big-piano-at-fao-schwarz.jpgSo as we grow, it is easy to push training and development of your employees down below hiring and crisis management, but I fear that is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Lack of training and development leads to higher turnover rates, which leads to the need for more hiring. Untrained employees lead to more crisis which take more HR time in crisis management and on and on and on. In conclusion, we know that this does apply to all companies, in fact, I know some companies that read this probably only have a one-person HR team and they may conveniently also be the owner, but it’s time to focus again on Human Resource – the individuals.  You have challenges today that your predecessors did not have, having 10,000 millennials entering the work force every day, but you also have a beautiful opportunity so take advantage of it. Mine your resources. Protect them. Value them.

calebCaleb Bagwell/Employee Education Specialist
John Maxwell Certified Leadership Coach
Grinkmeyer Leonard Financial
Toll-Free: 866.695.5162 / Office: 205.970.9088 
1950 Stonegate Drive / Suite 275 / Birmingham, AL 35242
Contact Caleb

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