The Question Matters


Handshakes are Making a Comeback

Red Chuck Taylor All Star basketball shoe.

Image via Wikipedia

Retro is what’s next.  When my parents saw me wearing tight jeans in middle school, asking for Converse high tops, and listening to the Beach Boys sing “Kokomo,” their comment was predictable:  “Everything comes back in style eventually.”  Sure, Mom and Dad.

Not long ago, my five-year-old son asked for his first Transformer.  I caught myself wondering why I didn’t save the 50 or so Transformers I had when I was in elementary school.  Then, as if my parents had pre-programmed me to say it, out came, “Everything comes back in style, eventually.”

In a previous post, I introduced you to James Townsend who works in the Admissions office of LeTourneau University in Longview, TX.  In my conversation with JT,  I was struck by a comment he made regarding effective recruitment of Millennials.  Part one didn’t surprise me:

Ten years ago the students thought sending email was cool and chatted with one another via instant messenger.  They still enjoyed visiting with college admissions counselors by phone and receiving college brochures in the mail.  Over the past ten years that changed dramatically – email is only for business type communication, few of them use instant messaging – preferring to text or chat and post on Facebook instead.  Most of the college material received in the mail still went in a big box under the bed and [they questioned] why the college would waste so much money and kill so many trees to send so much unsolicited mail out.

Makes sense.  But JT makes an observation that surprised me.  Perhaps it will surprise you, too:

The trend we are noticing for 2011 is that students are coming full circle and now want personalized communications – actual phone calls, handwritten notes, and actual signatures on letters.

Sounds like the paper and pen factories better not close up shop just yet.  To what can we attribute this appetite for an “old school” approach to communication?  Here’s a few suggestions.  I’d like to hear yours in the comment section.

  • Face to face communication and note writing never really left.  They were drowned out by the never-ending buzz of social media.
  • High school students want you to bend over backwards for them, and they’ll test you to find out how far you’ll bend.
  • It’s about standing out among the noise.  10 years ago, standing out meant going with social media.  Now that everyone’s caught up there, it’s face to face communication and hand-written notes that make you stand out
  • Millennials value community much more than their parents do.

Let me read your suggestions.  And while you’re at it, here’s your coaching assignment.  Ask a 20-something, “What kind of impression does it make on you when someone takes the time to write a note or meet you in person?”

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Coaching Millennials to Fail

Posted in Entrepreneurs,Generation Y,Leadership,Next Generation Leaders by treyfinley1008 on August 17, 2010
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Sounds counterintuitive doesn’t it?  A coach’s job is to point his/her client towards success.  A coach should be the one behind the curtain quietly allowing the client to take center stage in his/her own progress and accomplishments.  I’m suggesting a somewhat different strategy when coaching those under 30, one with long-term successes in mind.  Coaching to failure is not a proverbial “stick your leg out to trip someone” gag.  Coaching the largest generation in the history of the world is no laughing matter; it’s serious business.  I propose that the sooner a member of this generation learns what it feels like to fail, the sooner he/she will begin learning from that failure.

What better environment is there to examine failure than coaching?  Coaching is a pure-oxygen environment for breathing growth and transformation into an individual.  If an under-30 client doesn’t fail while coaching with me, I will not have done enough to coach him or her.   My client will not have learned enough.  My client will leave with a less valuable coaching experience.

My premise is simple: I believe controlled failure in a safe environment will produce an “immune” response that better prepares next generation leaders for what lies ahead.  Like dead diseases pumped into someone’s blood, controlled failure can provide a certain amount of inoculation against the fear of failure and its potential consequences.  This controlled “failure” can’t be contrived.  Coaching to fail means that the failure (1) is possible and measurable, (2) has real and potentially painful consequences, and (4) provides opportunities for multiple attempts at success.

Put another way, I’d rather my next-generation coaching client get “sick” of failure now than to “die” of failure in the future.   Over the next few days, I’ll be writing about some of the diseases our next generation faces, and the antibodies coaching must produce in order for them to  lead all of us into the next chapter of life, work, and faith.  Those who intend to lead must learn to:

  • Fight unfounded optimism with story-telling
  • Fight risk-averse behavior with opportunities for creative thinking
  • Fight inattention with critical thinking skills
  • Fight shelter-seeking behavior with “exposure” to the elements
  • Fight institutional skepticism with entrepreneurial experiments

You can probably think of other “diseases” to which those under 30 are prone.  I’d like to hear them, with one condition: you’ve got to suggest an immunization.

Millennials in the Office: Will They Stay or Will They Go?

Posted in Career,Change,Coaching,Fun,Generation Y by treyfinley1008 on May 27, 2010
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You’re in human resources.  You’ve been told by your COO and your CFO that it’s your job to hire three employees for a bank branch where there were only two before.  And, while you’re at it, they’ll be expected to work under existing company policy manuals for that bank.  We just poured thousands of dollars into that thick book, after all.   Hire young, too.  That place could stand to look a little younger.  And did we mention that you’re going to have to hire three people using the same amount of money you were spending on only two before?

Posted on Linked In later that day…  “Dying bank branch needs rules followers willing to accept lower pay.  Business attire and long hours a must.  Benefits include medical insurance and 403(b) plan.  Apply by sending resume to wevegotitallfiguredout@oldguardbank.com.

OK, it’s hyperbole, though some of you in HR may be thinking to yourself, “That was exactly what happened last Monday.”

Laugh it up, Fuzzball!

I start this way to point out some of the statistics about the turnover in jobs among Millennials.  When it comes to job-hunting, Millennials seem a bit like Han Solo, claiming, “Never tell me the odds.”  (That quote would be from The Empire Strikes Back, by the way, for all you non Gen Xers.)

According to the Labor Bureau’s study, 37% of Millennials are unemployed.  That employment rate is nearly four times the national rate for the workforce at large. Still, in spite of those odds, nearly 50% of all Millennials intend to look into other jobs in 2010.

    Why aren’t more Millennials enticed to stay put, especially given the realities of employment?  And, what can you the employer to do to steer them away from this stunning strategy of looking for work when 1 in 3 of their friends would be happy just to have a job?  Here’s Troy Stirman:

    Today’s graduates are not looking to work beyond 40 hours per week.  Too, they want an employer that shares their interest in community involvement… So-called “green” companies are high on their list when targeting organizations they wish to engage.  Traditional office settings are also being challenged by today’s generation of graduates.  Gen Y grads tend to look for flexible hours, some want to work from their home, and still others enjoy telecommuting from other locales.  With today’s mobile technology, these attitudes are fast becoming the norm…

    Today’s students resist professional dress.  No matter what feedback they gain from their interviews, most graduates don’t reflect the workforce of 10-15 years ago when it comes to proper business attire.  Flexibility is a given with this group…

    Childcare/health facilities.  Today’s graduates tend to leave children with daycare centers and work full-time for more of their career.  This generation is also more health conscious.  Companies who offer services such as in-house daycare facilities or who extend gym memberships as part of their benefits package will have leverage when luring quality candidates to their firm.”

    Tomorrow, I’ll share Troy’s thoughts on how Millennials are responding to the current job market–good and bad.  And I’ll throw in a couple of coaching points on the topic myself.