Posts in Business Fix Pros Blog

THE M WORD – Millennials In The Workplace

December 9th, 2018 Posted by Business Fix Pros Blog 0 thoughts on “THE M WORD – Millennials In The Workplace”

THE M WORD
Millennials and performance in today’s workplace.

Snowflake.

Of all the derogatory words used to describe millennials, that is probably the most offensive. It’s bandied about commonly, with or without the use of other slurs or insults. Most business people, and the majority of those polled for this article, have no trouble pointing out what is wrong with “this group” of workers. We thought it would be a valuable exercise to put together a list of common complaints, and analyze whether this group is indeed so different, as well as determine some best practices for their management and development. First, some facts:

“Millennials” are usually designated as those persons born between 1982 and 2003. The youngest of them are 15, the oldest are 36 years old, and they are the largest single group within the work force.

That’s quite a range. How can one compare a 36-year old and put him/her in the same category as a 15-year-old child? Nevertheless, we are talking about working age persons for the sake of this article, so let’s narrow the focus to early twenties to mid-thirties. One of the striking things about this group is their expectations – they typically insist on far more from an entry level position than workers 20 years their senior. It is not uncommon for a potential employee to expect a higher salary than is commensurate with their experience, as well as flexibility in their work schedule. These two things alone would be a contradiction to those of us in our fifties – we were taught that you work long hours for poor pay until you build up experience and a resume. Hearing such a different mindset in an interview can be off-putting.

64% of millennials would rather make 40K per year in a job they love than 100K in a job they find “boring”.

This is a generation that lives at home far longer than any previous age group. The financial crisis and subsequent poor job market that lasted from 2007 to 2017 hit this group hard. They have watched their parents become unemployed, and their own opportunities vanish in front of their eyes. This would certainly lead to a lack of trust in the corporate world, and who could blame them? Only 19% of Millennials agree with the statement “most people can be trusted” versus over 40% of Baby Boomers. If you couple distrust of business with the ability to stay at home without loss of stature from your peers, this is a very predictable state of affairs.

One of the myths about Millennials is that they want to be left alone once hired. In reality, they actually want their managers involved, providing feedback. While they take criticism much harder and more personally than previous generations, it is not true that they want to be left alone at a computer all day. It is true, unfortunately, that this generation of workers expects to progress quicker than they should realistically expect. In his book Not Everyone Gets A Trophy, Bruce Tulgan points out that this group has had their parents as advocates for most of their lives, and been given “participation trophies” as awards for the most mediocre of results. Unlike previous generations, they do not have the same drive to break free of this as they reach adulthood.

The simple (if arduous) solution to this is to manage them as a parent would. There is no point in trying to re-invent a new employee who has had parental intrusion in every aspect of his/her life. The strong management you provide replaces the void left by their parents being gone, at least for 8 hours per day. Being a strong leader that leads by example when it comes to personal issues such as paying bills on time, supporting charitable causes, personal development such as physical fitness and ongoing learning – all of these will pay great dividends when managing this age group.

84% of Millennials say that helping to make a positive difference in the work is more important than professional recognition.

One of the better examples Tulgan uses in his book is the Marine Corps. The Marines take on roughly forty thousand millennials each year. They have a “wash-out” rate that is too low to comprehend considering the dangerous and stressful nature of the program. Success leaves clues – in your company, you can replicate the intensity, shared experience, and the feeling of belonging to a group that millennials want. Providing steady learning will give them a consistent challenge.

There is a gap in basic skills common with millennials, and we can either teach these skills or whine about them not having them. Of course they should be expected to come to work on time, dress appropriately, stay focused, and be cooperative. If you are the boss, you need to help them learn these things – it’s not enough to point them out and lament the fact that they are not exhibiting these traits.

One of the most useful things to teach persons of this age group is a time budget. Simply take the hours in a week and start subtracting all the large parts like sleep, work, etc. It is best done in person, but the net of the discussion ends up being how much time we actually have in a given week. Since millennials usually list time as one of their most important commodities, this tends to hit home.

Millennials are earning 20% less than their parents did, and are under double the student loan debt.

While not all millennials belong to both categories listed above, a substantial number of them do. This changes their perspective in regards to short and medium-term goals. The fact that they save at the same rate as their parents did has little to no impact, due to the debt to income ratio. Therefore, they are predictably more interested in travel, vacations, and extracurricular activities than simply looking for a spouse and buying a house. Home ownership many times isn’t even on their radar, due to their financial situation and their recollection of the real estate crash of 2007-2008. We have an economy where 30% of the workforce is in a situation where a third of them live at home with their parents. This phenomenon does not exist in a vacuum; it affects spending habits, attitudes towards work versus play, and their aspirations for the future. Expecting them to behave as we did 25-30 years ago is ludicrous. If we are to hire, train, and manage this group we must adapt our expectations and change our approach. Some effective techniques employed by successful manager include:

• Making yourself available at any time to answer questions
• Request feedback – make them feel they are a part of the policy formation, even if just for their input on how best to implement it
• Get involved with their after-work life with charity events, learning opportunities, seminars, etc.
• Teach, rather than assume basic skills like time management and proper work etiquette
• Be open to hearing new ways of doing things, even if at first, they seem foreign – it never hurts to listen to another point of view.

In two years, one in three adults will be millennials

Many of us while taking classes in college heard professors deride the generation of students. They called us the “me” generation and would pepper conversations with analogies designed to show us what a detriment we were to society. We hated their condescension towards students. We turned them off. After all, we weren’t part of the “greatest generation” but we weren’t anything like the generation they so detested and derided, so why should we listen to them always judging us? Our millennials feel the same way.

There are many hard working, intelligent millennials who undoubtedly are tired of hearing terms like snowflake, whiner, etc. “Millennial” is the M word to this group, and we in business leadership would do well to take a more nuanced approach to employing this age group. Are there many millennials who exhibit the worst traits attributed to this group? Of course, there are – but are we to pretend that there aren’t 45-year old’s that show up late, complain about everything, expect too much, and generally waste time? Many of our co-workers throughout our careers have exhibited the exact same characteristics ascribed to millennials; we just didn’t have a stereotype or moniker for it.
There is no changing the demographics – we are dying off, and they are ascending. We can either learn how to motivate and manage this group, withdraw completely and only work with our own (learning nothing new) or we can take the lead and do the work necessary to give our companies the best shot at competing in the marketplace. To stomp our feet and complain about how unfair things have become seems like snowflake behavior to me.

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HAVE YOU SHIFTED GEARS ?

August 7th, 2018 Posted by Business Fix Pros Blog 0 thoughts on “HAVE YOU SHIFTED GEARS ?”

Have You Shifted Gears?

Has your company shifted gears, to take advantage of these 4 developments in the economy?

• GDP growth 4.1% in June
• Unemployment 3.9%
• American workers received largest pay raise in 10 years
• Corporate taxes driving profits

Simply put, if your company is not seeing gross revenue and profit growth of 8-10%, you need to speak with us. There are either structural problems with your organization preventing you from taking part in this economic boom, or you have people unable or unwilling to ramp up their performance.

During times of economic hardship, many employees slide comfortably into a mode where they coast along, secure in the fact that no one seems to be doing any better than they are. These are precisely the people you need to retrain, re-motivate, or replace today. Many have found comfort in mediocre performance and are loathe to gear up and run fast again; they will curtail your revenue while poisoning your new personnel.

If your staff is ready to go and free from the malaise described above, but you are still not performing better than last year – see us about structure. Many companies make the necessary changes to save on costs (usually payroll) during the down times, only to be caught unprepared for the influx of capital and opportunity in a booming economy. Processes and staffing changes that made sense a few years ago could well be hampering your progress now – don’t let any more time elapse without talking to someone who can analyze your company and point out opportunities.

We offer a 1-hour free consultation that can help you determine where you stand, but whether you speak to us or someone else – look at your company critically and determine if you’re keeping up with your competitors and taking full advantage of the current economic trends. Remember – inflation is coming, as sure as night follows day. How are you going to afford higher costs when your income has remained flat?

Sticking your head in the sand only ensures you will be eaten without warning.

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PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT AND EMPLOYEE PERFORMANCE

July 12th, 2018 Posted by Business Fix Pros Blog 0 thoughts on “PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT AND EMPLOYEE PERFORMANCE”

How many of your employees have personal problems affecting their concentration and performance?

While most companies have some form of HR department or employee policies, many are focused on preventing claims rather than developing employees. Staff training is imperative to prevent abusive or illicit behavior; one need only turn on the news to see the damage done when this is not a priority. As important as this “preventative maintenance” is, however – we feel there is another important aspect that goes completely unaddressed. Personal development of staff members is an ongoing process of education and coaching. Providing employee guidance on education, finance, and health goes a long way towards ensuring a productive environment.

How much concentration is lost in a workday when an employee has gotten him/herself in a financial bind that could have been easily prevented?

What is the cost of an employee who deals with your customers but has never had training in conflict resolution?

How many hours of productivity have been lost due to sick days, to say nothing of the reduced pace of an employee who is always tired?

These are important issues, and while they must be addressed delicately, they cannot be ignored if you want to grow your people along with your company. We are seeing an increasing number of new employees entering our client’s companies with no education on making a budget, controlling expenses, and avoiding debt. Many are in dire need of a mentor yet have no one to ask for help – HR departments in most companies are woefully inadequate to handle this.

It is quite simple to arrange for this training from outside sources; you do not have to become an expert on these issues. Some topics we have found useful:

• Financial Fundamentals – Managing Your Money
• Management Theory – Are You A Leader or An Analyst?
• Health, Energy, and Performance – How Your Health Determines Your Income

These are some of the topics that we and our partners provide – they are by no means an exhaustive list. You can schedule a free consultation with us here to go over details and assess your company’s needs.

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Brands, Signage, branding

TO BRAND, OR NOT TO BRAND ?

June 22nd, 2018 Posted by Business Fix Pros Blog 2 thoughts on “TO BRAND, OR NOT TO BRAND ?”

That is the question………..

I’m old enough to remember the music industry back when we all eagerly awaited the release of our favorite band’s next “album”. New acts would come around, but you spent years following each new release of your trusted favorites. Then something changed – it seemed by the late 90’s people were not anticipating the next album, but the next new band. Gone was loyalty for the most part – it was more about the next new group, or genre.

We are seeing the same trend across the business sector – as millennials become a larger part of the consumer base of any industry, brand loyalty seems to be decreasing. Social Media advertising and marketing plans allow small startups to compete much more effectively than ever before. Restaurants, big-box retailers, and fitness centers seem to be hit particularly hard by this, just to name a few. Is anyone really excited about another Chili’s or 24-Hour Fitness opening up? The new hip coffee shop, or boutique gym, is certainly much more exciting to an ever-increasing number of consumers.

Add to this the exorbitant cost of maintaining a franchise relationship with some of these big brands, and it is not surprising that so many operators are choosing to “de-brand”. This presents its own host of risks, and should not be taken lightly; however, if it is managed correctly it can yield great results. It is a process and must be planned out far in advance so as to cause the least upheaval possible among your staff and clientele. The timeline must include research and implementation dates for a host of categories – here are just a few:

• Communication – when and how to notify company stakeholders, employees, key clients, potential clients. Each of these needs a separate strategy.
• Physical changes – plant changes, branding, equipment purchases depending upon the industry.
• Training – management and staff training on new procedures, pricing, policies.

These are just a few of the myriad of issues you will need a plan for. Simply deciding to re-brand to save money on royalties or franchise fees is reckless; you must consider all the aspects of this decision. When done correctly, according to both the trends of your industry and best practices of those who have gone before you, it can be a great benefit to your bottom line and promote growth and new customers, many of whom were uninterested in you as a national brand.

If you are considering this change or know someone who is, please contact us for a free one-hour consultation regarding this important decision.

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ANALYSIS VERSUS LEADERSHIP

June 13th, 2018 Posted by Business Fix Pros Blog 1 thought on “ANALYSIS VERSUS LEADERSHIP”

As I watch a company I once knew fall apart, losing manager after manager, I cannot help but wonder how the C – Suite occupants failed to see it coming. Gone are the days when district and regional management came up to the front lines to help out; it’s now a conference call, distribution of blame, and threats – with the inevitable comp plan changes designed to elicit more dedication from the managers.

This story is all too common.

So often the establishment of KPIs results in a false sense of security amongst lazy executives; they think they can manage performance from their easy chair. Countless conference calls to go over the numbers, the assignment of blame without any first-hand knowledge of what is going on in a market – this is so common it would be laughable, if not for the deleterious effect it has on managers.

KPIs are meant to raise awareness of particular problems; these problems cannot be solved by a phone call. When you are too lazy or inept to actually go teach, train and inspire, your people will simply manipulate the reporting until they get caught. The ensuing response from the C – Suite is usually to install more reporting, designed to catch people cheating on their numbers when the simple solution is staring at them the whole time.

Get out of your office and go help them. Travel to markets or locations where managers are underperforming; they will appreciate the fact that you care enough to try to help. If you cannot actually perform the task you are asking them to do, you’re in the wrong job to begin with and are probably terrified they’ll find out. This is common in companies who hire upper management from the outside. It’s the old philosophical problem of infinite regress – I need better people because mine aren’t ready, and mine aren’t ready because I need better people.

When we consult with companies, we embed ourselves with their people as well as their systems. If this sounds interesting to you, please contact us for a free 1-hour consultation.

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STOP WASTING MY TIME !

April 23rd, 2018 Posted by Business Fix Pros Blog 0 thoughts on “STOP WASTING MY TIME !”

Don’t you wish someone who never intends to do business with you would just tell you?  Many people will not deal with you honestly because they are afraid of being rude – but what is more discourteous than ignoring emails and calls when you gave someone the impression that you wanted to have a business conversation?

There is a cost to focusing on a bad relationship, no matter what type of relationship it is.  The first cost is easy to see; it’s the time wasted on something that is going nowhere.  You feel the need to keep these leads and contacts in your CRM, because you don’t want to admit failure and delete them.  You get a false sense of security having them around.  Sound familiar?

We believe it is far wiser to honestly evaluate your leads and toss the ones who do not respond – keep them in the CRM but make them inactive.  You may wish to have the notes in the event they ever reach out to you, but having them among actual leads is a mistake.  In addition to the aforementioned false sense of security, there is another cost – They keep you from admitting your pipeline is in bad shape and seeking out new opportunities.  Think of how many new leads and contacts you could be working on if you were not wasting time on those that have no chance of becoming a sale.

If someone has failed to respond to several emails and a couple phone messages, despite giving you the impression that they were interested – move on.  This is not meant to include contacts that may be out of town or gave you a specific follow up date; this is for people who simply are not professional enough to return a phone call or acknowledge the receipt of an email that you were encouraged to send.  We see salespersons all the time who have been asked to submit information, then ignored by their potential client – this is a huge waste of time, and you are better served by trimming your leads and focusing on getting new, viable contacts.

Taking a hard look at your pipeline is an important, yet uncomfortable thing to do for many business persons.  Contact us for advice on this and any other business matters, and register for a free one-hour business consultation here:

https://businessfixpros.agilecrm.com/calendar/scott_corless

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YOUR ELEVATOR PITCH ONLY GETS ONE FLOOR…

April 11th, 2018 Posted by Business Fix Pros Blog 1 thought on “YOUR ELEVATOR PITCH ONLY GETS ONE FLOOR…”

Countless articles have been written regarding the “elevator pitch’; a quick google search lists over 3.3 million results. Despite all this information, most of the ones we hear are woefully inadequate. Just ask your co-worker to recite his or hers – you’ll likely be subjected a stammering, inarticulate description of what they do, or what their product offers in terms of features and benefits. Many business persons try to “product dump” everything they can in the span of 30 seconds, hoping one of the items catches your interest.

This is the worst possible way to grab someone’s attention, for a number of reasons:

• Due to the daily barrage of information, business professionals have trained their brains to look for exclusions rather than opportunities. In other words, they are seeking to disqualify what you offer rather than find something they would like to discuss. This is simply due to the lack of time and energy available for each new day; it is a protective reflex to prevent their time from being wasted.

• As soon as they hear you say “systems”, “training”, or any other item they can align with something they already have or do, you are tuned out.  You are offering them something they don’t need.

• Excitedly dumping a bunch of products or services denotes desperation and a lack of confidence, not value. Your competitors are selling the same thing you are, so a list of these items does not differentiate you from the masses.

You have about 10 seconds to make an impression. Remember, people do not buy what you do – they buy into why you do it, and what you believe in. If at the end of your first statement, they aren’t asking “How do you do that”, you have lost them. Your job is to get their brain to question, not eliminate. I will use my own experience with this as an example:

When I first started this company, I was excited to enumerate all the great ways in which we could help businesses. Upon being asked what I “do”, I would tell them all about the exciting ways in which we install revenue systems, staff training, reporting to gauge results, P & L analysis, etc. – you could literally see their eyes glaze over during my 30 second, rambling description. They heard staff training and thought “we have that already”. Perhaps they heard me say, “reporting systems” and again disqualified me, since all companies have reporting systems. Nothing I said was inspirational, nor did I tell them who I was or what I believed in – I just bored them with my process, and my elevator pitch crashed as if a cable had snapped.

Compare this with the way we describe our company now:

“Everything we do is predicated on the belief that small to medium sized companies should be able to compete toe to toe with large ones”. How do we do this? (thank you for asking!) “We do this by enabling these companies to leverage the strengths of larger organizations without incurring the costs associated with layers of payroll and bureaucracy”.

This new method invariably leads to questions and further discussion, which is all you set out to obtain in the first place.  Start thinking of why you do what you do, and what you believe in.  You will be proud to describe it, and that is a very inspirational presentation – one that people can buy into.

For a free one-hour consultation on this or any other business question, please contact us today.

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DO YOU HAVE A COMMUNICATION STRATEGY ?

April 9th, 2018 Posted by Business Fix Pros Blog 0 thoughts on “DO YOU HAVE A COMMUNICATION STRATEGY ?”

When it comes to communication, most businesses professionals have three main groups they must stay connected to. Current customers, prospective customers, and Co-workers (to include your boss and subordinates) will all be a part of your communication strategy. From the beginning of each relationship, you must set the expectations and be consistent with your follow up or response to emails, deadlines, etc. Failure to do so will result in inconsistent communication; this manifests itself in several ways:

• Employers will question your ability and professionalism
• Customers will question your commitment to their needs
• Employees will question their importance to you and to the organization
• Prospects will question your value

Let’s start with your employer, since that is usually the most important communication in a given day. In the excitement of having a new position, many managers feel compelled to respond immediately to each and every email they receive, whether it is during a workday or at 7 PM on a Sunday evening. While quick responses are important during the workweek, recognize that responding immediately to an email during your off day sets a precedent – that Sunday 7 PM response has now contributed to your employer’s expectations of you. The next one you fail to answer, whether it’s on a Sunday or even on vacation, can look like you’re suddenly “slacking”.

Current customers will often expect an immediate reply, but if you begin the relationship with the caveat “I answer most every email within 24 hours”, you will buy yourself some time. Each customer may have different demands and you will have to keep track of these promises, or the exceptions to the rule. A good approach is to ask them if a particular day or time will work for them, and then be sure to do exactly as promised.

Employees are never shy of bombarding us with emails, and of course it is our desire to answer immediately if they are seeking help; however, you can create a good deal of stress by not being consistent. A staff member who is used to you responding within 3 hours and suddenly has to wait a full day or more can easily take that as a sign that they are not as valued as they were in the beginning, or worse – think they are “in trouble”. This is terrible for morale, even in the short term, and can easily be avoided by setting some rules for yourself and sticking to them.

Lastly, our prospects are the most varied group of all – and the toughest to set a “response rule” for. A more nuanced approach is necessary right from the outset, as you do not want to appear desperate or give the impression that you have no other customers to attend to. Additionally, you must live up to your promises and be quick enough with answers to secure the account. We have found the best way to stay out of trouble is to simply ask the prospect what day and time is best to get back to them, and immediately put this into your CRM as a task and an event. I personally prefer to tell them when to expect my next communication – “Mr. Smith, thank you for allowing me to submit my proposal, I’ll follow up with you on Tuesday, and please don’t hesitate to reach out earlier if you have any questions.”

There is no perfect communication strategy, but setting expectations and being consistent is the key to avoiding the pitfalls enumerated above. Your customers will welcome your follow up, your employer will appreciate your professionalism, and prospects and employees will feel valued.

For help with this and all other business situations, please see our Business Coaching page and as always you can register here for a free one-hour consultation here.

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