Millennial Guide

The store was buzzing with middle aged computer geek shoppers, high on the latest technologies; chatting in the aisles about bits, and bytes, and ram.  I casually strolled up and down several aisles, listening, hoping to learn something useful. In my estimation these people are simply genius.

But I was there for a specific purpose—to buy my first GPS.  Didn’t have much money, didn’t have any experience, and I was painfully ignorant about them.  I had looked at several websites and saw various models and price points. It was all Greek to me.  I needed some consultation time with a human GPS guide to make my purchase decision.Millennia

There, ahead, was the GPS counter.  Void of life forms, and locked up tight.  I gazed longingly into the display case.  Look at them all.  So many to choose from.  What would be the right one for me?  I glanced to the left, the right, behind me and down the aisle isle ahead.  Nada, not one sales associate.  I took a walk around the nearby aisles.  There were two uniformed male employees having discussions with customers, and one young woman arranging boxes on a shelf.  I headed toward the woman.

She happened to turn her head just enough to catch me approaching, and immediately walked the other direction, off around a corner, and out of sight.  I spent the next 20 minutes trying to capture a sales associate.  They were experts at not making eye contact.  I went back to the display case, hovering there looking into it. Surely someone would notice I’d been hanging here for half an hour and reach the conclusion that I was there for a reason?  Heck no.  Finally a young male associate rushed by with a box in tow, and I loudly called out

“EXCUSE ME SIR?”

He could not pretend he didn’t hear.  He stopped with an impatient look on his young face.

“Excuse me, could I please get some help with GPS’s?”

I guess I said something wrong.

“Well what kind of help do you need?”  He asked with a look of sheer frustration.

“Um…I was thinking of buying one, maybe?”  I replied.

“Someone will be over there in a few minutes.  He sharply responded and sped off.

Okay then.  I stood there at the display case, marking my turf.  I was not about to leave and relinquish my opportunity to get help.  I spied the young woman from earlier, moving back and forth between several isles, never making eye contact with me or anyone.  Then she disappeared.  I had now been there over half an hour.  I just want a GPS.  I decided it was time to go to the service desk, get into that 15 person long line, and ask to speak to the manager.  Or I could just leave.  I turned around to leave.

There was Jean, the young woman sales associate, staring me down with an expressionless face.  Or was that how she looks when she is in a very very bad mood?

“You had some questions?” she said in a flat, tone.

“Um, yes, yes I do.”  I replied, somewhat flustered at her magical appearance. “with GPS’s.”

There was a long pause.  “With what?”  she said, and crossed her arms across her chest.

“Well, for starters, could I see some of them?”

She pointed to the display case.  “Everything we have is all right there.”

“I see that.  I mean, out of the display case?”

Guess I said something wrong again.  Clearly I was really agitating this young person.  She walked around the electronics counter, over to the display case.  We were now facing each other with the case of goodies between us.

“Which one?” she said with an impatient exhale, as she bent down to unlock the case.

Her behavior was becoming quite distracting.  This girl was young enough to be my daughter.  What is her problem?  I began fantasizing about spanking her and sending her to her room for this horrible behavior.  But I bit my tongue.  We’ll get through this.

“Well, how about that one?” and I pointed to one of the Garmins.  She reached into the case, pulled it out and handed it to me, then glanced around the room impatiently, tapping her heel on the floor.

I had my first GPS in hand.  This little device is going to guide me around the country on adventures!  How does it work?  Where does it turn on?  It’s so sleek.  What do I do?

“Can you show me how it works?”

She stared down her nose at me and bit her lip.  There was a long moment of awkward silence.  She pressed the top corner of the device and it turned on.  She handed it back to me.

“Garmin has a website.” She said.

Now, I don’t think I am better than anyone else, but I do think I deserve to be treated with respect by others.  I am here to spend money.  Oh my gosh, she is an example of the future of our country.

“Look, are you ok?  I’m so sorry to be such a bother to you.  Do you need to go get another associate to help me?”  I asked her in the calmest, most caring voice I could muster up.

“What?”  She balked.  “I’m fine.  What else do you need?”

“No, really, could you please go get one of your associates to help me?”  I carefully pressed.

Her neck and cheeks became flushed red.  She turned and darted out from behind the counter and vanished.  In seconds, one of the other young associates I’d seen earlier appeared.

“Which one did you want?”  he asked without looking at me.

“Well, I don’t know.  That’s why I’m here.  Can you please show me some of the differences so I can make a good choice?”

“Well, Jean is the GPS expert.”

I was stupefied.  Perhaps now is the time to say thank you and good bye.

“Well, Jean is not here now, Kurt, so I’m hoping you can help me.”  I said, looking at his name tag, and trying to make eye contact.  It wasn’t happening.

Needless to say, the GPS education process was a long and painful one for both of us, as Kurt was every bit as uninterested in helping me as Jean was.  End of the story?  I did purchase a GPS from Kurt, only because I needed it quickly and didn’t have time to shop around.  I thanked him emphatically for his valuable help and did my best to demonstrate huge appreciation for his time.  For one split second I thought I saw a glimmer of hope in his eyes.  That was 3 years ago.  I have not been back to that store since then.  But I have spent several thousand dollars in electronics with their competitors, since then.

This story is not a unique one.  I have many more, as I’m sure you do.  The key question is, why?  Why does this seem to be the growing normal?

Welcome to the age of the Millennial.  According to the National Post, within the next decade, 75% of the workforce will be made up of the Millennial Generation.  This statistic should scare us.  Why?

Because according to a recent Gallup poll,

70% of American workers are not happy with their work place. 

Of that number, 18% are actively disengaged, meaning there is some bad ass attitude going on with them.  Unless steps are taken to correct this direction, this trend is only going to get worse.  Sadly, my own state, Minnesota, leads the pack of disengaged workers at a whopping 26%.

This very topic came up at a recent business conference I attended.  Concerns were widespread amongst the CEOs, company presidents, and corporate managers in the room.  All of them asking ‘what to do’ to turn things around in their organizations.

The first step is to take a look at how the Millennial Generation might think.  They have risen up into adulthood as a generation of entitlement.  Many are told to go to college, then are straddled with enormous debt they carry for years after.  Few are able to secure employment with a salary even remotely able to put a dent in their debt.  They perceive an endless list of mistakes their elders have made.  They don’t want to follow in those footsteps.  No, they are not happy with their jobs or their opportunities moving forward.   They don’t trust the current decision makers of our country.  Many don’t believe there is much future.  Their altruistic attitude leads them to develop a staunch belief in social causes– they are not supportive of big business, big banks, profitability, or making purchases through companies that don’t also “give back” to make the world a better place .

It would appear the Millennial Generation is feeling pretty dissed.  Beyond the WIIFM (what’s in it for me?) they are looking for compassion, empathy, and social responsibility.  And what is wrong with wanting that?  Nothing, outside of it being in direct conflict with how most business is run today.

So, the answer becomes simple; change.

Change the culture and work ethic to align with the Millennial Generation’s needs.   Now that’s a tall order for American business.  The conference talked at length about business culture and results.  How a company’s culture has a direct impact on the financial bottom line.  An 11 year study done by Harvard Business School revealed:

Businesses with “Positive” Cultures Averaged Growth of 682%
Businesses with “Weak” Cultures Averaged Growth of 166%

Which would you rather have?

Perhaps this new generation and work force needs Millennial Guides.  Like a GPS, a programmed series of steps.  A format, leading the way through a culture more conducive to their long term well-being.  We can all be guides.  We all should be guides.  Businesses willing to invest in adjusting and nurturing their corporate culture will be rewarded with increased productivity,  decreased absenteeism,  increased customer service, higher retention of desirable employees and more profitability.

Contact PR Brady AdVentures to schedule a Culture Assessment for your business.  Become the next Millennial Guide.

 

 

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Comments

  1. I can understand if one sales person is having an off day, but when it’s multiple people at the same store, it’s not the workers, it’s the store. Whether it’s hiring practices, training or management, something went horribly wrong. And I don’t think it’s entirely generational, either–I’ve seen older employees get just as disengaged.

    • Agreed, and just to clarify, there is no “one size fits all” problem or solution to business issues. Yes, absolutely it is the store, or the company’s issue when it’s more than one person unhappy–and based on the findings of many studies, it’s the combination of culture (or lack thereof) they are providing employees to work in, and the attitudes of the new generation. Certainly there are older employees out there that are just as unhappy. The growing concern is, the thought of having an entire generation that will represent 3/4ths of our workforce carrying a negative mindset—just exactly what ARE all those companies interested in doing about it?

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