Chester On Point

When Millennials Cry “Don’t Judge Me” – Part II

In this follow-up to my previous “Don’t Judge Me” blog, we explained why millennials (and for that matter, people of any age) really do want to be judged… as long as they are being judged favorably. (No one is offended when they’re told how good they look, right?)

This post will take this topic deeper to provide some ideas and tactics to help you achieve improved compliance and consistency with the professionalism standards you desire throughout your workforce.

CLARITY IS CRUCIAL

Biz Cas GWWhen dealing with employees that are relatively new to work – from their first part-time job to their first full-time opportunity, it’s vitally important to clarify your expectations for professionalism on the front end before hiring them. Don’t expect them to know what you mean when you say ‘appropriate attire’ or ‘look like a pro.’ That leaves the door wide open for them to put their own unique flair on those terms – – and their definitions will not be in alignment with yours.

When addressing something as important—as touchy—and as controversial as a dress code, don’t simply describe it verbally or expect them to read it in the company handbook.

Instead, show photographs of employees dressed and groomed exactly the way your policy dictates. Ask each candidate if they’d have any trouble adhering to these guidelines without any ‘personal modifications.’ Have them sign off on it to verify their understanding. This prevents any employee from playing the “Oops, I didn’t know…” card in the future. Clarity during the hiring and onboarding processes becomes the ounce of prevention that is worth the pound of cure.

EXPLAIN THE WHY BEHIND THE WHAT

Tell your new recruits how your dress code and your workplace conduct code came to be, how often it’s reviewed, and the process for amending any part of it. Some companies enlist the opinions of their people when establishing these guidelines to combat concerns that employees have no say in these important decisions. That may seem like overkill to you, but it will speak volumes to your employees and let them know that you take workplace appearance and professional behavior very seriously.

Whenever possible, include the context and reasoning for your expectations:

“Our patients and their families frequently comment on the neat and clean appearance of our hospital staff. They say that it makes us look as if we are one unified team working together to provide the best possible care for our patients, and that our staff’s appearance gives them confidence in the cleanliness of our hospital.”

and/or

“You know, when I’m out with the guys at a cage-fighting match, I get carried away and my language can get awfully colorful. But we’re trying hard to distance ourselves from that kind of mob scene and maintain a respectful, professional environment around here. It gives our brand a certain cache that separates us from our competitors. So please refrain from any words that you wouldn’t use around your grandmother’s table on Thanksgiving. Okay?”

There is a time to wear a coat and tie and a time to wear a t-shirt and flip flops. Even casual Friday’s have limits.

Every grade school kid knows that if they sign up for a part in a play, they are expected to dress and act the part or the role they are playing. Unfortunately, many grow into their teens and twenties without ever being informed that when they accept a job, they are expected to dress and act the part of the employee and wear the “costume” the way it appears in the script.

ON POINT – While these important distinctions should have been taught at home, it’s today’s managers who have been tasked with pointing out to their employees the clear line that exists between professional attire and conduct and matters of personal style and expression.

 

Continue Reading

When Millennials Cry “Don’t Judge Me!” They’re Secretly Hoping You Will

Pizza Expo 2.001Messages about individuality have hit today’s youth nonstop from all directions. They’re constantly reminded that they are perfect just the way they are, that they have to be their own brand, and to never surrender their personal identity.

No wonder your young workers arrive in the workplace thinking, “This is how I choose to look and the way I choose express myself. I shouldn’t have to change for the sake of a job. So hey, boss! Accept me for who and what I am!”

Even if they temporarily go along with the manager’s silly rules for, say, wearing a uniform, chances are, they will twist the logoed hat or turn it backward, sag the pants, and untuck their shirt. Anything to make them appear as if they’re leading your company’s stealth image revolt.

Their message: “I have to make this look uniquely mine or I’ll lose me and become you.”

As millions of Gen Y’s and Z’s seek ways to prove their uniqueness, they expect the world around them to look on with an approving eye. And when they fall short of that in anyone else’s eyes, their obnoxious mantra becomes “Don’t judge me.”

Tattoed girl screamingWhat they’re really saying, or silently shouting at the top of their lungs is, “Judge me favorably. Judge me to be a hip, cool, one-of-a-kind individual. And if you can’t judge me in a positive and accepting light, then dammit, don’t judge me at all!”

In reality, to be judged is exactly what they want from their manager, customers, and especially their peers. But they want the verdict to be 100% positive 100% of the time.

So while they are busy shaping their outer selves with piercings, stretched body gauging, tattoos, and outrageous clothing, they’re also promoting the idea that what really matters is what’s on the inside.

The inevitable train wreck occurs when these workers, whose collective psyche has been shaped by the pervasiveness of be your own brand messages, show up in all their non-conformity for a job where the manager asks them to dress a certain way, speak a certain way, and act a certain way.

Getting the emerging workforce to dress and act professionally is far easier, of course, when you hire professionals from the get-go. But ask the recruiter or hiring manager and they’ll tell you that the labor pool isn’t exactly chock-full of young traditional-minded conformists. To many employers, that pool may seem more like a swamp overrun with radicals determined to rewrite the company’s dress code, not to mentio
n their entire code of conduct.

Your discontent with the lack of professionalism among young workers may have you hiring more and more based on potential. You may have to rely on an online personality assessment to tell you when you’ve found someone who is moldable.

You may feel that if you get a good raw prospect who comes from a “good home” or a “good school” you can get her to model your dress code and then convince her to stop texting when she’s talking to a customer.

However you see it, this issue demands your attention.

ON POINT: In the follow-up post Don’t Judge Me: Part Two, I’ve addressed the solutions and tactics to the “Don’t Judge Me” syndrome and show you how to get better compliance with the professionalism – or the lack thereof – from your emerging workforce.

 

 

Continue Reading

Why Millennials Shouldn’t Mix Social Media with Politics

Two of my five adult children (millennials in their thirties) are avid users of Facebook, Instagram, and other social media. Even though I’m writing this advice to them, it’s intended for the masses.
Capitalism or Socialism concept

Hey guys – it’s your old man here with some “unsolicited advice.” If you read it without bias, it could really help you. If you don’t, it could hurt you. So indulge me, if you will.

Anyone who visits your Facebook page instantly knows your political views. While I am delighted that you are passionate about the future of this country, your views and opinions could be considered extreme and quite polarizing to many others who are on the complete opposite end of the political spectrum. And you’re probably keen to the fact that everything you post, share, or ‘like’ immediately goes into the great vault of public information in cyberspace where it will be available for anyone and everyone to see. Forever.

Here’s the thing. Actually, two things you need to consider:

1)  Your real friends (people whom you’ve truly spent time with and could recognize across a crowded room) already know your views; in fact, they very likely share those same opinions. That’s because a shared view of the world is often the basis for a friendship. These kinds of friends do not need further convincing; you’re like the minister who’s preaching to the choir.

There is, however, another and probably much larger group of people who will see these posts. In this group are those who may be a casual acquaintance of yours or of a friend; or a friend of a friend of a friend whom you’ve just happened to accept as your Facebook friend. The people in this group may, or may not share your views, and because they don’t know and trust you as a real friend, your posts have little or no influence on their views. Most likely, they’ve already unfollowed your feed.

But there’s even a bigger reason that you need to abandon your political rants, sharing, likes, etc. on Facebook and other social media:

2) Your next boss, or prospective client, or future angel investor in your startup is going to want to know who you are and what you stand for, and you need them much more than they need you. They are going to do their due diligence to determine if you are a person they want to align with. It’s entirely possible that that key individual sees the world quite differently than you and will thus eliminate you from any consideration based upon your views. I’d hate to see that happen.

ON POINT – This is not some imagined or fictional scenario. It happens all the time much more than you may think. I’m a witness to it.

The bottom line is your posts and ‘likes’ aren’t helping to advance your candidate – or your issue – one iota. Zippo. Nada. Unfortunately, broadcasting your political leanings could end up killing the opportunity of a lifetime for you. Is it worth it?

Oh, and by the way.  This advice applies to all millennials. Even those in their fifties.

 

 

 

 

Continue Reading

If Your Best Employee Wins Powerball Tonight, Will They Show up for Work Tomorrow?

$1.5 Billion is a whole lot of loot. An almost unfathomable amount.

It is, by far, the largest jackpot in the history of any Powerball or any type of lottery anywhere on the planet.

While it’s hard to imagine being the winner, try to imagine that the winner turns out to be the top performer on your payroll. Would they give you two weeks notice? Would you ever see them again?

Okay. Let’s scale it back by many multiples.

If they were to win just a paltry $10 million dollars in the lottery, how many of your employees would quit their job?

That’s one of the revealing questions Gallup asks in its annual Work and Education survey. The percentage of Americans saying they would indeed quit after receiving this windfall has ranged from 31 to 44 percent. That means that at any point in time at least a third of your workforce would walk away from their jobs if they didn’t need their paycheck.

There’s little doubt that a paycheck (compensation) has a significant impact on whether or not your people are engaged at work. But if you want more than engaged employees – if you want them to be on fire at work and perform for you like they would if they owned the company – they need more than a paycheck. In fact, they demand six additional factors that, combined with compensation, form the 7 pillars of a great workplace culture:

compensation – money, perks, benefits, and work/life balance

alignment – meaningful work at a company with values that mirror their own

growth – opportunities to learn new skills and advance in their careers

atmosphere – a workplace that provides a safe, upbeat, enjoyable experience

acknowledgement – feeling appreciated, rewarded, and sometimes even celebrated

autonomy – encouragement to think and act independently and make decisions

communication – being informed about relevant company issues and knowing the company is actively listening to their ideas and wants honest feedback

Great workplace cultures aren’t built on simply paying high salaries. Employees who are in-demand need more to perform at their best and to remain in their jobs.

ON POINT – To ensure that you attract and retain the best possible people in your organization requires that you continually improve your workplace culture across all 7 pillars. So what are you going to do today to make sure that if your best employee wins the lottery – or if they receive an offer for a higher paying job from your competitor – they will stay with you for the foreseeable future?

Remember, money matters, but it’s only 1/7th of the culture formula.

See the video trailer of why I wrote ‘On Fire At Work’ here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Continue Reading

Coaching Quality Results in a Shortcut-Oriented World

In this new economy, time is the commodity that is the most prized. Seldom do you run into a colleague or associate who is looking for a way to fill some empty or idle time in their day.

Forced to do more with less, time-crunched leaders push their people to find the fast-n-easy solution when they encounter a problem such as an equipment breakdown or a customer service complaint. But the quick fix is seldom the right fix, and the Band-Aid approach to problem solving only lasts as long as the adhesive on the back.

When shortcut solutions become acceptable, employees are programmed to believe that speed trumps quality and cutting corners is the way to get on to the next thing. Even when luck plays its hand and the quick fix remedy is good enough, workers begin to exhibit a shortcut or ‘hack’ mentality. And that can prove hazardous to your organization.

Yes, speed matters. You don’t want the mechanic to take three weeks to complete a brake job on your car. But you don’t want him to finish it in three minutes, either. There’s a monumental difference between working efficiently and expeditiously and doing a rush job.

To establish a workplace culture where your people are driven to find the right solution in a timely manner, follow these three simple rules:

1. Be outcome driven. As Stephen Covey so brilliantly stated as the 2nd of his 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, “Begin with the end in mind.”  Your people should know where speed fits in to your organization’s values and what the ultimate objective must be in their daily decision-making process. If you demand quality above all else, let them know that in most all situations, good enough is not good enough when better is possible.

2. Follow up. As you delegate, make sure you consistently circle back to see how problems were solved. Look for teachable moments in both the good and bad situations and rather than give the lesson, ask workers what they’ve discovered through the experience.

3. Reward the process. When your people go out of their way to find and apply creative problem solving techniques, draw attention to it and give appropriate recognition, regardless of whether it led to a successful result. Let your people know that you appreciate them investing themselves in finding the best solutions, for the challenges that your organization faces, not just the quickest or easiest.

In 1776, Lord Chesterfield famously quipped “Anything worth doing is worth doing well.”  That quote is as applicable today as it was back then, perhaps even more so. So if you’re tired of seeing the same old problems rear their ugly heads and you’re after sustainable results, coach long-term problem solving strategies.

ON POINT: Assign an ‘A’ thru ‘F’ grading scale to various projects to let your people know which tasks can be rushed and which need to be handled with great care. Whenever quality matters, clearly assign an ‘A’ to the project and remind your people that efficiency is important, but shortcuts are unacceptable.

Continue Reading

Power Up Your Culture by Empowering Your Front Line Service Providers

My appointment was scheduled for 9:50am and I had arrived 5 minutes early.

At 10:20 I was still seated in the waiting area growing more frustrated by the minute.  (Full disclosure: I’m what you might call a “Type A++”).

At 10:16, I was ushered back to the dental chair and was welcomed by the dental assistant who then prepped me for the procedure: a crown on a bottom rear molar.  A few minutes later, Brian, my dentist came in, numbed me up and told me he’d be back shortly after the Novocain took hold.

39 minutes later, Brian returned to find me sitting upright on his stool with steam emanating from my ears. I didn’t have to verbalize my discontent, it was obvious. He kindly thanked me for my patience (something I don’t possess) and then motioned for me to assume the patient’s position back in the R.C.O.P (reclining chair of pain.)

Fully aware that I was not a happy camper, Brian didn’t leave the room again until the procedure was complete.

On my way out, I stopped at the front desk to settle the account and schedule the follow up appointment. Holly, the front desk staffer, had obviously been tipped off to my less-than-perfect service experience. She took care of the transaction and then reached into her drawer and pulled out a $10 gift card to a nearby big box retailer. “You know, Mr. Chester, we like all our patients, but we especially like and value you.” she said. “We know how busy you are and it’s our goal to never keep you waiting. However, this morning we had an emergency when a gentleman showed up with several teeth that were broken off in an accident. Unfortunately, that knocked us off our schedule. Please accept this card with our apologies and a promise that we will try very hard not to delay you again.”

I felt like an idiot for acting self-important. After all, my time is no more valuable than anyone else’s, and things like this happen all the time. Lacking patience is not something to be proud of, but rather a character flaw I need to correct.

But moreover, I left Dr. Brian Levitin’s office feeling valued and important. Holly’s response to me was authentic and sincere, not some rote statement from a policy manual. I credit Brian for empowering his staff to do whatever they feel is necessary to turn a frown upside down. That’s the epitome of a service-based culture.

ON POINT: It’s an imperfect world. We all get trampled out there in the marketplace and, sometimes, our customers get trampled by things we (our systems and processes) do, or fail to do. It’s in those moments where we have an opportunity to differentiate ourselves from the pack by having our front line service providers empowered with the tools, the training, and the autonomy to act without permission.

 

 

 

Continue Reading

When It Comes to a Compelling Workplace Culture, These Nerds Rule!

Just about every company in existence was started by someone (or several people) who saw an opportunity to make money in the marketplace. Ain’t nothin’ wrong with that.

But one company – a high tech software firm based in Minneapolis – was started by three guys (who each self-identify as ‘nerds’) with the singular goal of creating the kind of company where other nerds like them would LOVE to work. As a result of their simple foundational premise, The Nerdery (age 12) has not only become a frequently awarded ‘Best Place to Work’ by the Minneapolis Business Journal and the Minneapolis Star Tribune, it’s also a highly profitable firm that Inc. Magazine has listed as one of the fastest growing companies in America.

With locations now open in Chicago, Kansas City, and Phoenix, this is one high-tech company that’s firing on all cylinders. The founders and leaders know very well that their booming growth and tremendous success is tied directly to (1) the quality of the people they attract, (2) their proficiency in getting those people to consistently perform up to and even beyond their potential, and (3) their ability to keep those people on their payroll for as long as possible. In other words, they hire, inspire, and retain more than 500 employees who are on fire at work.

A quick glimpse at this fascinating organization reveals how they’ve tipped the old school model of employment on its ear:

• Each of the more than 500 ‘nerds’ at The Nerdery consider themselves to be Co-Presidents. They even wear that title on their company bracelet.

• At the Nerdery, seniority doesn’t rule supreme. In all cases, the best idea wins, regardless of whose idea it is!

• From Gardening to Chess to Bad Movie Night, there are more than 50 social clubs to join at The Nerdery. Each club was started by one of the nerds who had a passion for that interest outside of work.

• The Nerdery has a resident brewmaster, and they keep 4 kegs on tap all day, every day. And they offer free soft drinks, juices, snacks, cereal, etc. in their always-open employee cafeteria.

• To get hired, it’s not about your age, your college degree, or your work experience; it depends solely on whether or not you can pass the N.A.T. (Nerdery Assessment Test).

• Don’t put Fido in the kennel; bring him with you! The Nerdery is a pet-friendly workplace. And everyone knows that nerds love dogs.

Compensation, alignment, atmosphere, growth, acknowledgement, autonomy, and communication. When searching for a company that personifies all 7 pillars of a great workplace culture to conclude my new book On Fire At Work: How Great Companies Ignite Passion in Their People without Burning Them Out – The Nerdery was a no brainer. (Can you say ‘no brainer’ when you’re talking about 500 brilliant nerds?)

I could go on and on, but instead, follow me on a guided tour of this award-winning workplace culture in this video:

ON POINT – Today’s top workplaces are winning the war for the best talent because they are intentionally focused on being the kind of workplaces that the best talent is intentionally looking for.

 

Continue Reading

Ignite passion and drive in your workforce. Contact us at (303) 239-9999 to bring Eric to your event.

Eric's Clients Include Eric Chester Clients