The Performance Pro

Friday, May 23, 2008

Gone Are The Old Clichés

With the advent of the fast-paced, instant world and the birth of over
60 million GenY’ers by nuturing parents, there are some old clichés that are being
wiped off the slate. I’m sure there are more, but for starters:

-As a child you should be seen and not heard.
-Patience is a virtue
-Good things come to those who wait

Some replacements might very well be:

-Experts come in all sizes
-Persistence pays
-Now is always better than later

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Breaking Through the Glazing of Gen-Y

Born between 1960 and 1980, Gen-Y (also known as Millennials)
Never knew the world without cell phones, beepers, voice messages,
And chat rooms. Their grandparents, history’s traditional mentors, are busy out
seeing the world and their parents are struggling to survive and provide it all.

Gen-Y has always been ‘cyber’ connected to people. This is directly opposite from the Boomers always being ‘connected’ to people through face to face relationships. None of the “cyber tools” ever required a show of emotions to operate; but they have enabled Gen-Y’s to take multi-tasking to new heights.

From audiences I am always asked, how do break through the glazed over, blank looks?
Do I reach this generation who seems to be zoned out? Gaining the understanding of how this generation has been raised is a first step in understanding their challenges and their strengths. Here are 7 techniques to help dissolve the glaze:

1. Define: Why is this important to them? Then share it with them.
2. Be respectful of their intelligence.
3. Give them the tools to fulfill your expectations.
4. Seek their opinions and ideas.
5. Provide mentors and job shadowing
6. Be direct and to the point. Don’t waste their time.
7. Focus on commonalities

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Attracting & Retaining Gen-Y

Our emerging workforce is presenting employers with challenges of a magnitude never before seen. Cries of frustration are being heard as employers struggle to find out what makes their young employees tick.

Born 1980-2000+, Generation-Y (also known as the Millennials) provides a huge pool of about 80 million from which we can draw from to fill the 2006 labor shortages in our country. With Traditionalists (born before 1945)retiring, and Boomers not far behind, Gen-Y’s far outnumber their Gen-X seniors and are phasing in to dominate the workforce for approximately the next 70 years.

Generation-Y was described by Bruce Tulgan and Dr. Carolyn Martin in Managing the Generation Mix-Part II as “The most demanding generation in history.” Things we know: Traditional management is out. There is nothing ‘traditional’ about Gen-Y.

Recent surveys show that the top three ways to get a Gen Y to join an organization were salary, friendly casual work environment and development opportunities—in that order. While money was rated at the top, they want their careers personalized through special assignments, mentorships and training. Unfortunately, for businesses in this labor shortage, the trend to high salaries and signing bonuses are likely to continue.

Being the first generation to be deemed as “experts” in their homes by the age of 8. They have had their parents asking for their opinion and advise on everything from programming cell phones to which key to click on the computer. They do not have to prove their ‘value’ as preceding generations did who were raised with the “Be seen and not heard” rule. As a result this new group has incredible confidence.
They are not easily intimidated and can be blunt in expressing themselves.
“I don’t have time to be intimidated,” says one 26-year-old ad agency copywriter. “It’s not that I’m disrespectful, it’s just a waste of energy to be fearful.”

The work ethic? We have raised our children in a society where hard work on the part of the student is no longer seen as a key factor in academic success. This is seen in direct contrast to immigrants who were define their accomplishments synonymously with hard work. It is also interesting to note that on ACT tests where the knowledge of the English language was comparable, immigrants more often aced the test while middle class children of college graduate parents pulled C’s and D’s – with the determined difference between the two groups being motivation – or the lack of it. University of Pennsylvania researchers suggest that the reason so many U.S. students are ‘falling short of their intellectual potential’ results from their failure to exercise self-discipline”.

The blank stares. Representing a ‘disconnect’, this is a prevalent phenomena being experienced by teachers, parents, and management alike with Gen-Yers. What does it mean? There are several components: Some scientists say that the immersion in technology has actually changed the way that brains work. Marriott International has responded by changing its training approach to multisensory, rapid-fire series of sound-bites and is now developing bite-size “edutainment” training podcasts so employees can download and receive the information via their favorite mode. Another reason for thedisconnect: No emotional involvement. Through video games and other media, Gen-Y has been in a sense “desensitized”. Busy and overprotective parents and home life have eliminated the ground work for developing problem-solving processes. Teachers are repeatedly telling me that their students seem to be unable to think for themselves – quick to reach for their cell phone to obtain advice on how to respond. Being raised in a society where everything is packaged in the “experience” (as initiated for the Gen-Xers) Gen-Y has been groomed to be accustomed to being entertained, and having fun. This has, in essence, become their motivation.

- Resumes sent by snail mail are part of the past. This tech savvy generation will send their resume online, expecting an immediate response.
-Advertise on multiple online job posting boards (trade, local, national).
-Create a job posting board on your company’s website, providing an easy way for candidate to respond and apply.
- Actual ad copy will be important. Include the appealing perks that your work culture provides for Gen-Yers, i.e.: development opportunities; family friendly; life balance;
fast paced, freedom, company leagues, state of the art technology. Use key words that will attract on-line searches.
-Once hired, assign a mentor.
-Ask their opinion. Invite to participate on committees.
-Provide a Mentor and explore the possibility of job shadowing.
-Provide “high speed” feedback . Go to a daily or weekly feedback system, not annually.
-Implement a training plan to initiate growth and empowerment

Friday, May 09, 2008

Your Customer Service Image

Customer Service—it can be the golden nugget to trigger customer loyalty or it can be a nightmare that drives a customers away. Good or bad, one thing is for sure, it is often memorable.

The other day I was in a store buying flowers. I asked the young girl for some specific flowers that I did not see setting out. She smiled and kindly offered to run to the back and get what I needed. When she brought them up to me, the owner came by and blew up at her snarling that these were not what I wanted. In a mean, upset tone, he said “If you (meaning the employee) had put the tags on the tray, you would have known that these weren’t right and he stomped off to get the right ones. In a confronting, coarse manner, he managed to bring his employee to tears. Once out of ear shot, she was quick to say that she wasn’t going to be working there anymore. The owner wasn’t understanding and always belittled her in front of customers, embarrassing her and making her feel awful.

I felt myself being caught in the middle. I appreciated the owner’s dedication to giving me what I wanted but I did not appreciate the manner in which it was done. It goes to demonstrate that customer service is more than just the customer’s end result. It’s the entire journey. A great question for your next Customer Service effort—How can you make the journey a pleasant experience?

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Choose Your Words Wisely

Talk about image! A trend, which started in the pop culture years ago, has today spread and infected even the most traditional settings. And, it’s not just the kids using foul language. Recently a very renowned sales “guru” conducted a Seminar in our area. I had the opportunity to help work the product tables in exchange for free admission. Now, I had heard him before and while his expertise is unquestionable, I just wasn’t up for dealing with his choice of words. The last time I heard him I found his continued use of profanities to be offensive and, frankly, decided now I had better things to do with my time.

Like with so many undesirable habits, it seems we tend to passively condone other’s use of bad language. Then, before we know it, whether we are cut off in traffic, or the copy machine has a paper jam at the office, we hear “it” fly out of our own mouth. (Who said that?!) In this era of complacency, casualness and indifference, the lapse of language proprieties joins the long list of ways that we sabotage ourselves. It corrodes self-esteem, lowers standards and affects how we are perceived by others. And, in the business world,
it can drive customers away.

The following information may just shed new light on this self-destructive habit; and instill an appreciation for our reaping the benefits of using the English language the way it was intended.

Hal Urban in his book, Positive Words, Powerful Results, maintains that what we see as the evils of bad language is more a matter of civility, respect and courtesy. In making this point to his classroom, he gave his students a number of questions to answer:

Would you think differently of me if I constantly used swear words?
Are there places in our society in which you don’t want to hear swear words?
Are people who use foul language in public polite or rude?
What do you reveal about yourself when you constantly swear?

Here are some of the replies that these teenagers responded with regarding people who constantly use foul language:
They’re angry.
They’re uneducated.
They’re rude and inconsiderate.
They have limited vocabularies.
They aren’t creative or imaginative.
They’re clueless.

Once again, we as adults have the opportunity to set good examples and train our youth to fill tomorrow’s leadership roles. Actually, from the above information it sounds like they already have a pretty good grip on the destructive influence of bad language—could they have learned that from us? Perhaps, as adults and leaders, it’s time we give more thought to the words that we choose, and before we know it, we may just be raising the bar on ourselves.