Chester On Point

The Secret to Engaging Millennials is Actually No Secret at All

ruby slippersTo get back to Kansas, Dorothy never had to jump through all the death-defying hoops the Wizard put her through.  She had everything she needed (ruby shoes) from the very beginning. All she lacked was the understanding of how to unlock their magical powers.

Since they began making their way into the workforce in the late 90’s, business leaders, owners, and managers have been trying to figure out how to drive performance from their enigmatic millennial employees. As arduous and mysterious as this challenge has been hyped up to be, the answer is surprisingly simple. To unlock their power, all it takes is a one-to-one relationship with a manager who genuinely cares about them.

Many of my clients employ millennials as their front line workforce and the face of their brand.  These organizations are looking for the keys to engaging millennials to get them to perform up to their remarkable potential. Prior to speaking for their conventions and meetings, I conduct interviews with their front line workforce to help take leaders on a backstage tour inside the minds of those people who keep them up at night.  By getting my subjects to completely relax and let their guard down, these interviews become remarkably revealing about what it is that they truly want from their managers.

This 6-minute video montage features interview clips that I’ve recorded over the past 8 years revealing candid comments from millennial employees in a variety of jobs talking about what they love about their managers, and also what they hate about them. (As you’ll discover, there’s very little middle ground in-between.)

If you ask a millennial to describe their job, inevitably, they will begin telling you about the relationship they have with their manager. This comes before they mention how much they are being paid or what their job responsibilities are. The message is obvious; if you want them to work harder, perform better, and stay longer, focus your time and energy on these 3 crucial relationship-building keys:


1. Get to Know Them – You don’t have to be friends with them, but you do need to be friendly. That requires you take an active interest in who they are outside of work. Ask them about their friends, their family, their opinions, their likes and their pet peeves. Discover where their passions lie, and know what they like to do in their spare time.

2. Help Them to Get Where They Want to Go – You have an agenda and to achieve it, you need them to be on your side. They, too, have an agenda, and they need you on their side. The more you’re able to help them get where they want to go and give them skills that will serve them along their career path – even if their job with you has little resemblance to where they are going – the more likely they are to give you all they have while they are on your payroll. (It’s also the right thing to do.)

3. Pay Attention to the Good Things They Do – While your primary job is to stay on top of problems, you can prevent a lot of little issues from growing into problems by calling attention to those things your people are doing correctly–not just those things they are doing outstanding. Don’t wait for someone to be late to work to remind them about the importance you place on reliability; the time to do that is when they arrive early. Don’t just point out that their last report was incomplete without also complimenting them on the three others they did correctly. Change the focus of your energy and you’ll change the culture of your organization.






Continue Reading

10 Ways to Encourage Employees to Take Ownership in Their Work

yellow boots on the roadEvery employee who works for you will eventually arrive at a crucial intersection, if they haven’t already.

At that point, you hope they turn right and buy-in to your leadership and the vision and values of your company. Turning that direction means that they see a future for themselves with your organization so they’ll invest themselves fully and go all-in.

Unfortunately, some will turn left and quit on you without actually quitting. They’ll take on the ‘me against the machine’ mindset and begin looking for shortcuts and ways they can do just the MDR (Minimum Daily Requirement) that it takes to fly below the radar and avoid getting called out or fired.

Continue Reading

Why Millennial Managers are the Most Perplexed Demographic in America

I’ve been writing and speaking about millennials since they first made their way into the workplace as teenagers in 1998. Since then, I’ve interacted with thousands of mature business owners and leaders who’ve confessed their struggles and frustrations in managing this enigmatic generation.

Today, more than half of all millennials (born 1980-2000) are 25 and older, and the part-time teen workers of 1998 are now 35 years old. They hate being lumped into a generational heap that’s been branded and widely criticized for being inherently lazy and entitled. This is especially true for those overachieving millennials who are anything but lazy and entitled.

Continue Reading

TRAIN WRECK! Why Millennials Hate Being Paid by the Hour

Q. What’s the simplest way to pay an employee?

A. Wage per hour.

Simply multiply the number of hours worked by the agreed upon hourly wage, subtract taxes, and presto –  a paycheck!

Hourly compensation has been a staple of the free enterprise system since Rosie fastened her first rivet.  And like they always say, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!”

trainwreck22Unfortunately, wage-per-hour employee compensation is broke.  Has been for at least a decade.

Ask any millennial who gets paid by the hour. No matter what the hourly wage is, if you pay them based solely on the numbers of hours they work, then all you’ll ever get is their time.

If, on the other hand, you want to engage a millennial’s heart, their soul, their ingenuity, their productivity, and their passion, an hourly wage — by itself — won’t cut it.

To better understand this mind shift, check out this short video clip from a recent presentation to a group of franchisee owners of one of the fastest growing restaurant chains in America.

(Click here to access this video on YouTube).

“Okay, Eric, I get it.  paying by the hour is easy, but it’s not very effective.  How can I avoid the train wreck of having my people work against me?”

Find a way to make your success their success.

To be aligned instead of at odds with them, your millennial employees must hold an active stake in your success. They’ve got to see how great effort leads to great results, and how great results pave the way to great rewards.

Conversely, when your profits wane, your people should feel the pinch just as you do.

Just because they are not owners of the business doesn’t mean they shouldn’t take ownership in whatever role they play in that business. Your culture should be one where employees own their jobs, as opposed to one where employees feel totally disconnected to bottom line results and are only exchanging units of their time for a predictable paycheck.

Putting a tip jar on your counter (or whatever the equivalent of that is in your industry) isn’t a viable solution, as it merely shifts the responsibility of rewarding employee performance onto your customer leaving neither party feeling inspired, appreciated, or motivated.

No employee compensation system you find or create is going to be as easy to administrate as multiplying hours by a predetermined wage.  But if easy isn’t producing the employee engagement you desire, it’s time to think outside of the hourly wage box.

You’ll know you’ve found an effective pay plan when those on your front line are as happy as you are when your business is people-packed and as concerned as you are when it’s ‘chill’.

Don’t rest until you hit upon a pay plan that allows your people to experience the roller-coaster ride of your business with you.



Continue Reading

News Flash: Study Finds Millennials Deficient in Work Ethic

According to a new report from the consulting group Workplace Options, more than three quarters of Americans surveyed say that the Millennial generation suffers from a lack of work ethic, and almost half believe that Gen Y’s are less engaged in their jobs than older workers.

Not exactly earth shattering, is it?

Vigilant defenders of youth always argue this is an unfair criticism and that mature adults have always complained about the habits and behaviors of youth.  Two thousand years ago, Cisero wrote “the youth of Rome are idle, they drink too much wine, their songs make no sense, and they ride their horses too fast in the street.”

But here’s the difference …and it’s a big one.  Even Millennials are critical of the work ethic of Millennials.

This same Workplace Options report reveals that more than half of the young workers surveyed believe peers in their age group are less motivated to take on responsibility, and over a third of millennial workers feel their peers are less engaged than their counterparts. And those findings aren’t exactly news shattering either.

My new book – Reviving Work Ethic – quotes a 2010 Pew Report where workers of all four generations were asked “what makes your generation unique?”—work ethic was mentioned as a distinctive characteristic by at least 10 percent in the three older generations—Gen X (ages thirty to forty-five), Baby Boomers (ages forty-six to sixty-four), and the Silent Generation (ages sixty-five and up). That put it among the top five responses for those generations, and it was number one for Baby Boomers. It didn’t make the list for Millennials. Millennials said that what made them unique was technology use, music/pop culture, liberal/­tolerant beliefs, greater intelligence, and fashion/clothes.

So if you find yourself critical of the work habits and work ethic of the new emerging workforce, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re an old fogy complaining about ‘those darned kids.’ You may, in fact, be a hip twenty-something looking to get ahead and feeling frustrated that the dude in the cubical next to you isn’t pulling his weight.

Related articles

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