Business Coach Daniel Fitzpatrick shares ways to build work ethic and commitment when working with the generations some older business owners aren't so sure about –26- to 40-year-olds (millennials) and under 25s (Gen Z)
If you’ve been in business for any length of time, you might have had a few challenging experiences with younger staff.
Some bosses struggle to relate to the younger generation and their way of thinking.
Generational differences are nothing new. But that doesn’t mean they’re easy to navigate.
Here are a few tips that will help you draw the best out of your younger team members.
1. Keep the faith – there are good ones out there
Keep in mind that young staff are a bit like referees. You hear more about the bad ones than the good. However, it’s inevitable that millennials will be part of your team. When it comes time to hiring, here’s how to sort the good from the bad:
Good young staff are enthusiastic. Look for this when you interview, so you know they’re motivated from the outset.
Uncover their patterns of behaviour. You’re looking for signs of work ethic and commitment. How long were they at their last job? Why did they leave?
If they’re fresh out of school, look for something they’ve shown commitment to in the past (like a sports team). If you can reveal their attitude early, you won’t find yourself regretting hiring them after their first week.
If you’ve got great young staff already (or you know someone who does) ask them if they’ve got mates looking for work. Like attracts like.
Consider a referral bonus to add a little motivation. If they introduce you to someone you end up hiring, give them a $500 bonus.
Most importantly, don’t settle. Finding good staff is not easy, but hiring someone who brings the whole team down will cost you massively. Hot tip: make sure your website is up to date and your company uses digital tools. If you’re still relying on paper trails, the good millennials may think you’re stuck in a time lapse.
2. Use their love of tech to your advantage
We all know how much today's young staff love being on their devices. It’s no doubt caused you a few headaches. But what if their love of tech could benefit the business?
Try asking them to take site photos for your social media. They know how to take a good photo and what content works. Plus, it’s one less thing you need to worry about.
If you’re looking for a good piece of software, consider involving a young team member. Have someone explain to them what’s needed and let them do the research for you.
Showing one of your team members how to do something? Ask another to video it. You’ll
start documenting your training processes. This way you can start to systemise, and don’t end up having to explain the same thing every time you hire.
While using their love for tech is good, it still doesn’t solve the productivity problem. Set things up so phones can only be used in breaks (or for work purposes, of course).
Make the most of the first digital generation and use their tech skills to help your business.
3. Be frequent with your feedback
Think back to when you started out in the trades. How did your first boss teach you? They probably fast-tracked your learning by dropping you in the deep end and hoping you’d swim. That was how you were led. Keep in mind your younger staff have grown up in a world of instant gratification. They’re used to everything happening fast, so can struggle with things that take time. It’s up to us to help them build confidence and learn patience. This just means leading them differently.
They want to know where they stand and thrive off more frequent feedback. Provide this and they'll learn faster and you get a happier team member turning up to work each morning.
A quality of a good leader is changing the way you communicate to serve the people you lead.
Use things like five-minute chats before meetings, the one-liners of recognition or the ‘hey, good job, have you thought of trying it this way’ coaching as quick ways of giving feedback. It’s easy for you and meaningful to them, so they’ll keep working hard.
It’ll probably feel different to how you were led, but it shows you’re interested in them, which means they’ll invest more in you and your business. Small, consistent wins will add up to big triumphs.
4. Everyone will work hard for something
Your first job was a measure of security. It was your escape from the academic system that didn’t suit you, and finding another one would’ve been difficult. So, you worked hard to make sure you kept it.
But millennials want a job that helps them see their future. If they can’t see their next step with you, they are more willing to find it elsewhere. Studies show that 25% of millennials will have worked five jobs by their 35th birthday.
They want to level up in life and aren’t afraid to jump ship if they need to. So, show them what they can achieve with you!
This might be completing their apprenticeship, reaching a certain pay rate, saving for a house, or escaping from living pay cheque to pay cheque. They’ll work harder with a target in mind.
Tell them about the levels they can achieve within your business and the timeframes they can achieve it in. It shows them why they should stick with you, so you end up with loyal employees.
Learning is an important part of levelling up. When they make mistakes, train them how to do it right. Most importantly, teach them what matters most – learning from those mistakes. This way, they’ll improve and you won’t have to go back and fix things next time.
Help them enjoy their job by being approachable. If you work hard, help your team out, and can have a laugh at the same time as doing your job, chances are you’ll see the same in your team.
5. Where are you at as a leader?
If you want your staff to perform, they’ll always need nurturing (regardless of their generation).
It’s easy to sit back and blame young people for underperforming. Reality is, as a business owner, the more you take responsibility for building your team, the better the results.
Yes, millennials and Gen Zers have their generational challenges. But so does every generation.
Let’s face it: good leaders adapt. How are you leading your team – the way you were led, or how they need to be?
Getting the best out of them means meeting them at their level first. Then fueling them to deliver on what you need.
Need a plan to move your business forward with confidence? Book a free strategy chat with me here: nextleveltradie.co.nz/nextstep
Trades business coach Daniel Fitzpatrick has been helping tradies increase profits and win back their weekends since 2010.
Need some help to get your team performing at the highest level? Book a free strategy chat with Next Level Tradie director Daniel Fitzpatrick here: nextleveltradie.co.nz/nextstep