Today’s episode topic focuses on Transforming Women Entrepreneurs (TWE) & Leveraging Millennials in the Workplace. I’ve been involved with Transforming Women Entrepreneurs for a few years now here in Atlanta, and I love the work that my guest is doing to help women business owners reach greater heights of success. My guest is also an expert in generations in the workplace and no topic is typically hotter than how companies need to think about millennial workers.
My guest is Nancy J. Lewis the founder and president of Progressive Techniques, Inc. where the theme of her organization is, "Developing a Better YOU!" Nancy has 25 years of experience in professional development, diversity and inclusion, leadership, and communication skills.
In the first few minutes of the interview, Nancy and I talked about how TWE got started as an organization. Celebrating 10 years this year, TWE was started to provide a forum for women business owners to provide them education, mentorship, support and so much more. I’ll be speaking at the March 8 event talking about how women can grow their businesses to the next level using social selling strategies.
Learn about other speakers during the interview too. If you are here in Atlanta, register for the event here http://www.twe.events/ You MUST register by March 1st due to the security constraints onsite at Coca-Cola where the event is going to be held.
Then we got into an insightful conversation about generations in the workplace, specifically the dynamics happening between millennials and boomers. We technically have 5 generations in this workspace says Nancy but the main generations are Boomers, Gen X and Millennials, which we discussed.
How do we bridge the relationships?
The biggest issue or war is between Boomers and Millennials. Gen X is often being excluded from the conversation due to their size being so much smaller.
Some key differences between Millennials and Boomers are:
Millennials have a reputation for coming into the workplace with an attitude of entitlement. Not everyone, of course. As Nancy reminds us, we should be careful about making sweeping generalizations. Certainly, these younger workers come in expecting to be promoted in a few months versus doing the job for a year or so as they develop the skills to progress when they are ready. It is also not uncommon for millennials to believe they already know it all and don’t need help. Of course, I’d say that’s probably true of every generation. I remember when I first entered the workforce. There is no doubt that I thought my way was better until I learned to listen, learn and be open to the fact that I’d not developed enough experience to “know it all”.
Boomers on the other hand can be resistant. They don’t trust these younger workers tethered to social media 24/7 who think they already know it all and resist any kind of feedback at all. What Nancy pointed out though is that Boomers created the Millennial generation and thus played a role in why their attitudes are what they are. Good point! These parents were providing positive feedback in all circumstances. And, by now, it is well documented that the Millennial generation is the first generation to get trophies just for participating. That certainly wasn’t case in my day. Winners earned the trophies. That’s life. We can’t all win and showing up is part of life. Still, Millennials find constructive feedback hard to hear.
What can be done?
It is important for Millennials to open themselves up to constructive criticism. Our experience and expertise develop over time. There is an opportunity for cross-mentoring of both Millennials and Boomers. Millennials can benefit from the experience, knowledge and social/people skills or Boomers. Boomers can benefit also by keeping an open mind about the ideas that Millennials bring to the table. That includes learning from Millennials how to leverage social media and embrace new approaches to do business.
Businesses can also adjust their onboarding process to be more customized to meet the needs of these younger workers. Setting expectations about what the job entails is important. As is putting someone in the position to resolve a particular issue if they believe they are now ready to move up if they’ve been on the job a short period of time. I loved that idea because it puts that employee into a position to practice and see that they may or may not be ready yet.
There is so much more in the interview, which I hope you enjoy.
Nancy J. Lewis is the founder and president of Progressive Techniques, Inc. where the theme of her organization is,
"Developing a Better YOU!" Nancy has 25 years of experience in professional development, diversity and inclusion, leadership, and communication skills. A former Dale Carnegie Instructor for thirteen years, and adjunct faculty instructor for Georgia State University, she is a seasoned professional leveraging practical skills to resolve complex workplace issues and conducts motivational keynotes.
As a facilitator and business/executive coach, Nancy has worked with many Fortune 100, Fortune 500, and government agencies. As a former Human Resources practitioner, Nancy brings the knowledge, wisdom, and understanding to her workshops. Nancy is certified in a variety of assessment tools, including DiSC, Strengths Deployment Inventory (SDI), and Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI).
Nancy has a quarterly event called Transforming Women Entrepreneurs (TWE) where she empowers, equips, and encourages women to be the very best they can be in an environment where true connections are made.
Nancy has an engaging and energizing style that creates an atmosphere where attendees are comfortable with sharing their struggles as creative ways of resolving the issues of work and life are provided.
In this episode, I talked with Jim Ninivaggi, Chief Readiness Officer at Brainshark. Our topic was about how first line sales managers can avoid extinction.
We started by talking about what the first line sales manager role entails. Jim said it was actually 5 roles:
Leader, Coach, Trainer, Recruiter, and Manager
Which of these roles do you see managers doing well today? Where are they lacking?
Most sales managers really play one role – manager of the forecast and pipeline. The aggregate and interpret the data that reps report to them, they massage the numbers before they push them up to the Chief Sales Officer or VP of Sales. While this is important, the missed opportunities are the coaching, training, recruiting and leading teams that the role also requires.
Even from a coaching point of view, many sales managers simply assume the role of “super rep” – they join calls not to coach – but to be the hero – which makes them just another rep. This remains a pervasive problem as reps are promoted into the role often with very little, if any, training to help them be successful in their new position. Lacking training in how to manage and lead their teams, they default to what they know - closing the deal.
Our title starts with the words “avoiding extinction” – how are managers at risk for extinction?
Artificial Intelligence certainly puts sales managers at risk. Think about it. If their primary role is to gather and communicate the forecast and pipeline information, with artificial intelligence the forecast will no longer come from the field but from data.
Without that need for “human interpretation”, that role of keeper of the forecast goes away. And if that is the only role that differentiates a manager from a rep – the role is no longer needed.
So how do managers avoid becoming extinct?
Expand their role and develop their skills as coach and trainer to their teams. What gets in the way of these things happening, according to Jim is that these things are not expected, not inspected and managers often lack the ability.
To address these managers need both strategic coaching and performance coaching to be effective in their role.
Since I'm a believer in "learn 2 earn", and I would suggest that if sales managers are not getting the training that they need to be successful, they should be accountable for investing in themselves.
Technology, including AI, can help in these roles with things like:
Leveraging video coaching technology to allow for asynchronous coaching.
Using AI to help guide managers to where they need to focus on coaching.
Using AI to create “sales simulators” in the same vein as “flight simulators” – allow a rep to simulate a call – and the rep and manager review their performance together.
Delivering “training in a box” digitally to help managers deliver learning to their reps during regular sales meetings.
There was a lot of meat in this discussion, so please enjoy the interview!
Jim Ninivaggi, Chief Readiness Officer at Brainshark. Formerly an analyst, Jim led the sales enablement research practice at SiriusDecisions – helping, in many ways, to define the space, and working at the research firm for 10 years, while publishing 200+ research reports and briefs. He has more than 30 years of experience driving sales productivity and great tips, anecdotes and best practices to share.