Work Together to Bring Out the Best in Every Generation

Generation

 RCS Influencer Heidi Ellsworth says that there are opportunities for younger and older generations to learn from each other.

I have worked with many young people over the years and I love it. I love the enthusiasm, the ideas, the passion of young men and women as they first come into the work force. I believe there is so much that we can learn from each other.

In fact, one young lady I worked with asked me for some advice concerning her marketing career. As I was writing this, I looked at what I had shared with her and decided it was worth sharing with our RCS community. I think it is something that we can all use. We never stop being mentored and we should never stop mentoring. Here is what I shared with her:

  1. Look for the big picture in everything you do. Even the smallest tasks everyday fit into the big picture. A tradeshow booth arriving on time in the right shape with all the necessary accessories shows the sales force and the customer that we are good at everything we do and that our brand matters. Our company matters, and it shows in how we implement and make things happen. The smallest tasks can have the largest influence so always think about how this will work for the big picture.
  2. Communicate, communicate, communicate. Don’t just assume that everyone knows what you do. Don’t assume that you know everything. Take the time to communicate before, during and after every project so you not only keep the team informed but you are better informed.
  3. Ask Questions. Make sure you understand why you are doing a certain project or task. Repeat back what you have heard so you can confirm what you are doing. Ask why and how is this going to drive revenue? How and why is this going to further our brand?
  4. Treat everything you do as if you were doing it for your own business, take ownership. This is super important.  Not only take ownership but let people around you know you own it. You want to always instill confidence in those around you and there is no better way then owning it. Once teammates start questioning what you are doing or why you are doing certain things or not doing them, you begin to lose the battle.
  5. Lead by serving. Be the one to lead the battle and help others. By helping others to do their job better you begin to position yourself as a leader and one day a manager.
  6. Understand marketing, sales, communications and business. Know the business, read books, talk to people, do webinars, research online. Whatever it takes to make the next step in being a better marketer and leader.

As I read this, I realize that this is not only how I have traversed my career, but this is what I have shared with many young professionals and my own children. And what have I learned from them?

  1. There is nothing more important than respect. Respect everyone for the talents and strengths they bring to the job and do not let age or anything else get in the way of that respect.
  2.  Push yourself to keep up. With every new technology, every phone upgrade I have learned to embrace it because if I don’t, my kids and younger teammates will be wondering why I am not.
  3. Understand the new age of marketing and branding through the eyes of our youth. They are going to buy different, they are going to vote different and they are not going to care if the baby boomers or Gen Xers agree with them or not. Face it, they will be here a long time after we have left. If I want to stay relevant, I must understand what motivates them without judgement.
  4. Work together to bring out the best in every generation. Multi-generational learning is where it is at. I am seeing it everyday in roofing companies where they are pairing older employees with younger employees and getting the best of all generations. The young guns are bringing technology with them and they are usually willing to teach the team. The older generation have the craftsmanship, the knowledge of how to install the best roofing systems. Together, they can create a faster, better working environment that has the same levels of old world craftsmanship.
  5. Be disruptive. There is nothing worse for a millennial then being stagnant. They have grown up with 2.0 everything. They want to do things different, but they also want it to be better not just different. Being disruptive is not always about changing everything it is more about asking why and looking at problems from a unique perspective.
  6. Relationships are still the most important part of every generation. Friends buy from friends and that has not changed. Even as we are all starting to buy online we are still determining our buying habits through customer service, strong relationships and quality products. Every generation wants to feel valued and engaged. As we look at business going forward some of the motivations may change but at the heart of every generation they will find companies that they can relate to and respect. It is our job to be sure the culture of our companies fits that bill.

Heidi Ellsworth is owner of HJE Consulting Group and a partner in RoofersCoffeeShop.com. See her full bio here.

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