Merge's Blog

How to motivate younger employees

jeffmowattAs readers of this blog know, I have a keen interest in younger employees, commonly referred to as the Millennial generation, and their impact on the workplace.  In fact, my last book – Generations Exposed: Unexpected Insights Into the People You Work With – contrasts the differences between Millennials, Gen-X’ers, Boomers, and Traditionalists, and I frequently seek to get dialogues going on this topic of how to motivate younger employees.  Which is why I am delighted to have my professional colleague and friend, Jeff Mowatt, guest on the blog today writing about this very topic.  Not only has Jeff given us great insightful posts in the past (most recently, One more reason to create a customer-focused culture), but I am also privileged to be sharing the platform with him (and five other exceptional experts) at the Customer Service Leadership Summit in Calgary later this year on November 15.  By the way, this event is already tracking to be a sell-out, so if you live and/or work in Southern Alberta, register early.  More information about the Summit is at the end of Jeff’s post below.

How to Motivate Younger Employees

You’re a manager who has paid your dues. Over a lifetime you’ve learned how to honour your commitments, interact with others, and make a positive contribution on the job. To you it seems like common sense. That’s the problem. Those high performing habits that are second nature to you can be completely foreign to today’s younger employees. Here are three reasons managers are becoming increasingly frustrated with younger workers, and how you can motivate them to provide exceptional service for internal and external customers.

  1. Participation Medals

Need I say more? Years ago when my daughters were 4 and 6 we enrolled them in the local community soccer league. I was shocked and dismayed when, at the year-end wrap-up, everyone was awarded with a medal. Huh? If anyone, it’s the parents who should’ve receive medals for driving the kids to games and practices. In business there’s no second place award for simply participating. You either earn the customer’s business, or if they do business elsewhere, the company loses 100% of those revenues.

  1. No more ‘F’ Grades

Many school boards are now prohibiting teachers from issuing zero grades to students who fail to turn-in assignments. Instead, teachers are required to issue the average of the student’s previous grade without the assignment. Pardon? So later at work… “Sorry Boss, I didn’t get around to ordering those critical parts. Can’t you just give me credit for the ones I ordered last year?”

  1. Anti-social Media

Put two strangers together at a bus-stop or park bench and chances are, you won’t get a conversation about the weather; you’ll get at least one person pulling-out a smart phone and scrolling. The art of small talk is fading fast. And without exercising those conversational muscles, they atrophy. At work, the habit of tuning-out strangers can translate into customers being ignored. That’s a problem for employees of all ages. It just happens that younger employees tend to be more engaged online and are more prone to develop the dismissive habit.

There is Hope

The good news is there is a simple solution. In a word – training. But not just training to develop technical skills. Employees also need to learn communication skills with particular emphasis on how to earn and keep trust with customers and co-workers. Fortunately, today’s young employees are amazingly fast learners, especially when you involve them and engage them in the training.

Bottom line

Chances are, as a seasoned manager you learned a lot about commitment and social skills growing-up. Society’s approach to teaching and parenting was different then. Rather than being discouraged by younger employees, consider being a mentor and arrange for them to receive the kind of training they really need.

I mentioned earlier that Jeff and I (and two other exceptional mainstage speakers) will be headlining the Customer Service Leadership Summit in Calgary later this year on November 15. In one power-packed day you and your leadership team will learn smart practices and fresh ideas to attract new customers, and turn current customers into raving fans.  Enrolment is limited so register early.  I’m giving you fair warning, this event will sell out, so don’t be disappointed!!

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