This past week I traveled to and worked with leaders in five cities across the US and Canada, (Baltimore, Philadelphia, Knoxville, Houston, and Vancouver, B.C). In addition to three topics I typically talk and consult about (customer experience, leadership, and culture), in every setting one word kept coming up – Millennials!
Most leaders and frontline workers are trying to determine what it takes to engage Millenials (the group born somewhere between 1980 and 1996). We are all seemingly looking to connect with and retain millennial employees, co-workers, and customers.
Recently Gallup conducted an exhaustive study of Millennials – the results of which can be purchased or you can attend a regional workshop discussing the findings. For the purpose of this blog, allow me to give a few highlights (or maybe you will view these as lowlights) from the comprehensive Gallup study:
When it comes to employment, most Millenials are constantly scanning their environment for opportunities.
- 21% of Millennials say they have changed jobs in the past year.
- The millennial turnover rate was three times that of other generations in the past year.
- The annual cost to the U.S. economy, based on Gallup estimates, for millennial turnover is $30.5 billion.
- Millennials report they are less likely to be with their current employer in a year (50% for Millennials vs 60% for other generations).
- As would be expected from the “likely to stay” data, 60% of Millennials also report they are open to a new job opportunity (15% higher than non-Millennials).
- Only 3 in 10 Millennials report being behaviorally and emotionally engaged in their job, while 16% are actively disengaged (pulling at cross-purpose with their companies).
So, what does this mean for your business?
From my vantage point, there are three important takeaways and action steps for each:
- Traditional efforts which worked to engage many prior generations won’t work with Millennials.
Action Step: Spend more time talking directly to Millennials about what, if anything, you can do to increase the likelihood they will remain in your employment in a year.
- The future workplace will be far more transient.
Action Step: Become efficient at on-boarding and orienting new hires to be productive quickly given that they will have a limited tenure working on your behalf.
- Employee engagement and loyalty will become an even greater business advantage.
Action Step: Study trend data to gain a competitive advantage by increasing “discretionary effort” and “length of stay” for millennial workers. Brands that keep them longer, and get more out of each hour they are with you, will win in this changing work landscape.
Finally, the future is not bleak, it is bright!
Millennials are intelligent, energetic, entrepreneurial, and well-educated. People who treat them as such and build work environments that address their values and lifestyle will thrive in very special ways!
It’s that time of year when we remember and honor our mothers, so allow me to harken back to a “momism” that was frequently uttered in my childhood home. Marie Michelli was quick to say, “tell me who you run around with and I’ll tell you what you are.”
The upshot of that saying is that the people with whom you associate will define you and that we are all held accountable through our reputation. As I’ve come to learn, my mom’s wisdom is typically as relevant to my personal life as it is to my business dealings…therein comes Barry Torman.
Barry, is a local businessman and a true friend who often inspires me to reach further and do more in support of important social and community issues when I would otherwise be inclined to leave those matters to others. Barry is the kind of person you would want on the “board of directors of your life.” His latest project is a classic example and (in addition to demonstrating activism) it offers two very important lessons for leaders who are attempting to integrate technology solutions to make their businesses more responsive and accountable to those they serve.
Let me first give you a brief overview of the project, Voters Care, in the hope you will take a deeper look and possibly support it. Then I’ll offer the two significant lessons that the project provides all of us in business today.
Not long ago Barry invited me to breakfast to talk about what has now become a website (voterscare.org) and what he hopes will be an emerging bi-partisan movement to leverage mobile technology to solicit the input of the electorate and then to hold politicians accountable for their legislative record.
As Barry explained the concept to me, I intuitively embraced the wisdom and nobleness of the effort. However, I asked questions about the viability of Voters Care and inquired as to “why” he would spend time and money on it.
Seeking to keep it as a non-partisan, non-profit effort and wishing to gain nothing personally from the idea, Barry answered my “why you” question with, “Somebody needs to nudge accountability forward. I’ll put the idea out and if it resonates others can make the idea better and help make it a reality.” As is often the case, when you are around the “right” people, their perspective and initiative is inspiring.
Now on to the lessons we can take away from Barry’s idea. Mobile technology is pervasive. People receive so much of their information at their fingertips. Rapid dissemination of information and solicitation of feedback is also easily accomplished on mobile devices and through the world wide web.
Businesses are held accountable on social media. As such, all of us should be looking for ways to leverage the power of mobile, social, and the internet to gain feedback from our consistence (our team members and customers). Additionally, we should encourage and engage public discussions of our performance. In essence Barry’s idea, which he is applying to the political arena, suggests that solicitation of feedback from consumers (in his case political constituents) benefits the decision-making of those who serve them. Furthermore, transparency on performance, makes businesses (in his case politicians) more accountable and better able to meet the important needs of those who rely upon them. How effectively are you using technology to inquire of your customers and report your performance?
Oh by the way, who are you hanging around with…do they inspire you? Would they say the same about you?
This blog is about relevant messaging throughout the journey your customers have with your brand. Although I will use Pope Francis as an example, I am not opining about the Catholic church, the popularity of the Pope, or even Christianity in general. I’ll leave all that to the theologians.
Much of a customer’s journey with a brand depends on the words and images that they encounter in marketing, shopping, and post-sale. All to often, the words chosen by brand representatives are crafted in haste without careful consideration of the audience to which they are intended. Therein comes Pope Francis!
When speaking to an audience of 70,000 at a “teens only” event, Pope Francis made a statement that was both startling and brilliantly crafted. In a sermon that contrasted the power of technology with the power of religion, he noted:
“Your happiness has no price. It cannot be bought or sold. It is not an application you can download on a mobile phone. Even the latest version can not help you to grow free in love.”
Holding a iPhone as a visual cue. Pope Francis went on to suggest that life without Jesus is like a smartphone with no bars.
One additional culminating image from the journey for some in the audience was a selfie with the Pope.
Again side-stepping the religious overtones of the message, there is much to be learned from the willingness of a messenger to position his words and imagery to the benefit of the audience. This 79-year-old head of state and head of the Roman Catholic church effectively connected with an audience of teenagers through a message designed for them, not designed for him.
So, here are some question for you:
Who are your key customer segments?
What images, lifestyle elements, and references are relevant to them?
How can you authentically weave those images and messages throughout the customer journey with your brand? (e.g pre-sale, throughout the sales cyle, and post-sale)
Is your brand voice in keeping with the ever-changing wants, needs, and desires of your audience?
Unlike our businesses, I suspect all Popes have and forever will draw massive crowds. However, much like us, there will be those Popes that will connect at a greater level than others. The strength of human connections (at the papacy and in our day to day life) depend upon our ability to understand our audiences and our humble willingness to craft consistent messages that serve them.
About 20 years ago I had a rather transformative experience while pursuing a hobby. I didn’t suspect that the class I was embarking upon would have such broad impact on my life.
As a professional speaker, I envisioned possible stage benefits from learning improvisational comedy skills but I hadn’t appreciated the benefits that improv training would provide me in my role as a leader or as a consultant charged with helping organizations increase the quality of experiences they provided to their customers.
So in the hope that principles of improv might help you lead positive customer-focused changes, I thought I would outline a few improv tools over a series of blog posts. The first principle is “YES AND.”
Imagine you walk onto an empty stage and are expected to create a plausbile yet funny scene for an audience. Let’s assume you start by asking for a suggestion of a location and someone in the the audience yells out a “bowling alley.” Further imagine, you embrace that suggestion because it saves you from having to come up with your own starting place. In essence, you say “YES” to the suggestion AND begin to create the scene by lifting an imaginary bowling ball. Let’s further assume that another actor from your improv troupe enters the stage and says, “Hey Gus, I got 5 dollars that says you will blow this last frame and miss your perfect game.” You respond, “I’ll see your 5 dollar bill and raise you 10.” Great – your scene is taking shape! Think about what would happened if your response to your colleague was, “I am not Gus and what are you talking about a perfect game.”
YES AND is a powerful response to so many business situations where you might wish to inspire innovation or side-step false choices. For example, I am often asked if a client’s company should first improve their employee experience or their customer experience. My answer is often “YES AND lets look at how we can realistically and successfully make some progress on each.”
Senior leaders at companies like The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company or Mercedes-Benz (the subjects of my books The New Gold Standard and Driven to Delight, respectively) have often cited the phrase “the answer is “YES” now what is the question?” As such, those leaders strive to say YES to team members and customers. Let’s assume a customer asks for something that can’t be provided at the Ritz-Carlton, service professionals (the ladies and gentlemen of the Ritz-Carlton) are discouraged from saying NO, while instead identifying what can be provided. In extraordinary service brands, YES AND becomes the default mindset!
So how will you answer this question? Will you seek to be a YES AND leader in a NO BUT world?
Hmmm, consider that question to be your first opportunity to demonstrate this important skill…