Becoming a great boss: The secret of managing millennials

Becoming a great boss: The secret of managing millennials
by Rocky Harris – April 2013

Does Gen Y get a bad rap?

gen ages

The generation currently entering the workforce gets a bad rap. They are seen as entitled, spoiled and difficult to manage. They don’t follow rules. They expect to be rewarded without working for it.

While some of this may be true (see chart below), the truth is each generation is misunderstood and treated unfairly by the older generations. I remember when it happened to me.

Back to the future

The stereotype of my generation (Gen X) was we were underachievers known for cutting corners. Slackers.

In 2000, I was a recent college graduate interning at the San Francisco 49ers. One day I left early to attend a graduate sport management class at the University of San Francisco, about 90 minutes away. One of our seasoned executives said, “Typical youngster these days…sneaking out early. Has anyone in your generation ever worked a full day?”

Instead of letting him know I worked full-time for the 49ers with 12 hours of graduate courses and a part-time job on the weekends, I decided to leave without defending the truth or acknowledging his ignorance.

That day left a mark on me, making me dig deeper into why he would make a generalization without knowing me personally. That would be like me saying, “I’m surprised you’re still awake this late in the day old man. Isn’t it time for a nap?”

From that day forward, I realized like most stereotypes, creating generalizations about generations isn’t productive.

[dropshadowbox align=”center” effect=”lifted-both” width=”550px” height=”” background_color=”#ffffff” border_width=”1″ border_color=”#dddddd” ]”I employ the belief that every individual should be communicated to in a way that will yield results,” said Kristen Gambetta Director of Client Services for the Houston Dynamo. “While there are generational qualities that come into play, it is important to get to know the individual to learn how to effectively motivate him or her to action. If you put your co-workers in a box based on their generation you may not be getting the most out of them.”[/dropshadowbox]

Forgetting to remember

At one point in my career I forgot the lesson I learned.

When I first became a manager, I would complain about the generation below me: “They expect to be president of a team by the time they are 25 without doing any work to get there. They show up to work whenever they want rather than at 8 am when everyone else gets here.” Sound familiar?

I was guilty of doing exactly what I complained about when I was younger.  I stepped back and understood I painted everyone with the same broad brush. It wasn’t fair.

Managing differently

In a survey conducted by Lee Hecht Harrison, more than 60% of employers experience tension between employees from different generations.

A good manager or leader manages each person differently. Why? Because they’re different. Each employee is motivated by different factors. You have to know when to pull the right levers.gen Y traits2

What do you do with the 22 year old who thinks he can be team president at 25? Tap into ambition to get the most out of them. What about the one who gets to the office later than others? Look at productivity. As long as they stay late and get the work done, does it really matter when they arrive?

Even though this generation has a unique set of values, expectations, and approaches to work, so do people of ALL ages. The reason why people have a tough time understanding other generations is the same reason why managers have a challenging time managing employees: No two people are the same and they shouldn’t be treated as such.

John Wooden said, “A coach is someone who can give correction without causing resentment.” The only way to correct without causing resentment is to figure out what motivates and treat them accordingly.

[dropshadowbox align=”center” effect=”lifted-both” width=”550px” height=”” background_color=”#ffffff” border_width=”1″ border_color=”#dddddd” ]“I find it unique to work with such a wide range in ages, said Houston Texans Senior Director of Communications, Kevin Cooper. “I find lots of knowledge can be exchanged between the generations. The ability to communicate and find common ground is where we need to be. There are modern problems that can use experienced solutions and older issues that require modern ingenuity. There in the middle–where  respectful dialogue lies–is where business can move forward.”[/dropshadowbox]

A message to millennials

My guess is the young men and women entering the workforce deal with these generalizations throughout their young careers. My advice is to not make the same mistake I once did. Don’t pass judgment on other generations. First, consider what motivates and drives those older than your generation. Second, as you progress in your career and start managing people, don’t be quick to judge the next generation behind you. And, third, always remember what Mark Twain said, “All generalizations are false, including this one.”

[dropshadowbox align=”center” effect=”lifted-both” width=”500px” height=”” background_color=”#ffffff” border_width=”1″ border_color=”#dddddd” ]

A take from the front of the class

Michael Lysko
Michael Lysko

As a Baby Boomer I’ve taught and coached Gen X and Gen Y. Here’s my take on Millennials:

  1. Don’t underestimate their work ethic and desire to succeed.
  2. When it comes to entitlement and career goals, I don’t think that they are any different from Gen X’ers in that they want to be recognized and rewarded for effort and achievement.
  3. They seem to have an inherent sense of fairness. They don’t trust the mainstream media to give an unbiased view.
  4. Media consumption patterns are much different than earlier generations–in that their interests are much more narrow and social media involves an exchange of ideas as opposed to an authoritative voice on the 6:00 news.
  5. Most respect authority, but are more willing to question authority when they feel strongly about an issue.
  6. Trust must be earned on an individual basis. It doesn’t exist simply because of your title.
  7. They may not expect to remain with a single employer for an extended period of time. They learned from their parents that circumstances can change quickly. They want to be in a position that allows the freedom to make choices that are in their own best interests. [/dropshadowbox]

Source of header pic:


Part 2: Managing the next generation of sellers

Part 2: Managing the next generation of sellers
by Murray Cohn – February 2013

Last month we began our discussion on how to manage the new generation (Gen-Y) of sellers. We now turn to some specific ideas I’ve gathered from managers on how they help motivate their young salespeople. Maybe offering the double-donut burger (above) as an incentive might work. Well, thankfully we have better ideas than that. I hope.

Create a management-in-training program

Many NBA teams such as Atlanta, Charlotte, Cleveland, Phoenix, Philadelphia and Washington have created a program that allows sellers who achieve sales goals to receive hands-on management training. The programs provide opportunities to be the Manager-on-Duty  for game nights, night calls, or entry level sales staff.[dropshadowbox align=”right” effect=”lifted-bottom-right” width=”250px” height=”” background_color=”#ffffff” border_width=”1″ border_color=”#dddddd” ]

Jake Reynolds
Jake Reynolds

“Every person is motivated by different incentives. The key is to understand the motives of each one and then manage  toward reaching their specific goals. For some it’s money, some it’s responsibility, and others it’s career advancement. Superstars seem to value the mentoring and career advancement more than money.  By finding what drives our sellers, we can create platforms of additional responsibility and continued learning to develop skills beyond just their current roles.” [/dropshadowbox]

These programs have three key benefits:

  1. The recognition and achievement is a tremendous motivator for goal-directed top sellers.
  2. Teams develop a management bench.
  3. The training program allows some sellers to look behind the curtain to learn sales management is not for them, but selling and making money is.

Develop more tiers of advancement

Our survey clearly shows (see last month) promotions and advancement matters.  The Orlando Magic,  Sacramento Kings, New York Mets and others created tiers within their sales departments. New employees can advance from ticket sales representative, senior ticket sales rep, account executive, and senior account executive. Each level takes on more responsibility, rewards and higher sales goals.

Set Clear Expectations

From the first interview managers need to communicate a clear vision to the candidate of what is expected of them. I love what Dr. Bill Sutton and Dr. Dick Irwin create in their Sports Sales Combines to give candidates a real life experience of selling. On an academic level, schools like Baylor, Mt. Union and other universities partner with teams on class sales projects where students gain real experience making 100’s of calls just like they will in their first inside sales job.

Have candidates meet with your top sales people. It always sounds cool to candidates to work for their favorite teams. But spending a little time with your successful salespeople (during the interview as well as after hiring) will help them truly understand what’s expected and will allow you to hire better people and alleviate turnover.

Create shorter sales contests and incentives: Make it fun!

Stop setting an all or nothing bonus on the end-of-year result. Use time off as a potential prize.

The Minnesota Timberwolves set goals and incentives for five eight-game blocks. The Washington Wizards did a  fantastic weekly contest, with “minute-to-win-it” weekly competitions. How many do-nut holes can you get in your mouth?  That sets the rep’s winning prize amount.  The Columbus Blue Jackets do Tour De Columbus with a daily winner getting to wear the first place Yellow Jersey.

[dropshadowbox align=”right” effect=”curled” width=”250px” height=”” background_color=”#ffffff” border_width=”1″ border_color=”#dddddd” ]Contests should:

  1. Be visual,
  2. Have a scoreboard, and
  3. Have the prizes sales reps want–not what the managers want.[/dropshadowbox]

Embrace technology

Many managers see reps abusing internet privileges and shut down usage. This is a mistake.

Set clear, acceptable usage rates such as 30 minutes of prospecting time per day on LinkedIn or Facebook.  Going to check fantasy football 20 plus times a day is not OK. These behaviors need to be monitored, not because you’re the internet police, but because these are symptoms or signs of poor motivation and future performance. You want to coach and motivate reps to focus and enjoy their work–and the work best enjoyed is work done efficiently and effectively.

[dropshadowbox align=”left” effect=”lifted-bottom-left” width=”250px” height=”” background_color=”#ffffff” border_width=”1″ border_color=”#dddddd” ]

Tim Salier
Tim Salier

“As we continue the transition to a new generation of sellers, embracing technology has been critical for the continued development of our sales and sales leadership staff. Over the last several years, our tracking metrics, key performance indicators and sales training modules have evolved to include and actually encourage the use of new technology such as LinkedIn, texting and Facebook. The key for SS&E has been to establish clarity in terms of prospecting and activity expectations while embracing alternative outreach methods. “[/dropshadowbox]

Expecting these new age reps to make 100 calls a day is also a mistake. Include things like texts and e-mails into an overall hustle board that includes points for face-to-face meetings, number of phone calls and talk time duration. You can assign point values based on what you feel will drive the greatest number of sales.

This generation is hi-tech and hi-touch. Provide your sellers with iPads and encourage more face-to-face, in-game and event selling using technology to show seats, make impactful presentations and close more deals.

What do you think?

Doing these things to engage this new generation of sellers will help energize your team, retain your rising stars and generate more sales. I’d like to hear about your challenges and your solutions to sales management in today’s environment. You may comment below or join our S3 Report group on LinkedIn and start a discussion!

How to manage the new generation of sellers

How to manage the new generation of sellers
by Murray Cohn – January 2013 

Part 1

“I want it all. I want it now.”

On a recent team visit I met an entry level ticket seller who’d been there two months.   He said, “Murray, I am ready to manage my own staff. I know everything I need to learn about ticket sales.” Laughing, I looked at him and said, “I have been doing this for 25 years and I still learn every day.” I added, “Plus, to make that statement, it might help if you were first on the sales board instead of eighth out of twelve.” Read more