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Be a better boss

 16 July 2018     Donald Cooper 

Business owners and managers keep telling me about their frustrations with employees in their 20s and 30s (you know, the Millennials). But over the past few weeks I’ve spent time with a few very bright young people in that age range and here’s a reality check from their perspective that you may find enlightening and helpful.

Robert is a smart young guy in his early 30s. He has been in both sales and installation with a company that installs and services sprinkler systems in commercial buildings. Following a nasty accident on the job, Robert was assigned to work in the office while his injuries healed.

He immediately saw many ways that the office, sales and field people could work more effectively together to get more done, increase revenue, delight customers and reduce employee frustration…but his boss won’t listen to him. So, Robert is looking to move to a company that will listen, appreciate his input and take action.

If I were Robert’s boss, I’d be sitting down with him, today, and proactively asking what suggestions he might have, based on now having worked in every part of the business and how those suggestions might be implemented.

Natalie is a 30-year-old music teacher at a chain of music stores. She has experience as a pop singer, has a master’s degree in opera and is consistently the highest rated teacher in the company. Natalie spent weeks developing a detailed business plan for how the school could add another revenue stream by offering choral singing (singing in a choir) for various age groups, after many parents enquired about such a possibility.

She handed the plan to her boss three months ago and hasn’t heard a word since. Not a peep. Natalie is now creating a plan to leave her employer and start her own music teaching business.

Christy, age 31, works in a community assisted living service in a small town and loves it. The boss truly leads, thanks, mentors and uplifts every member of her team, every day. Together, the group, whose job is to help people with physical and mental challenges cope with everyday life is committed to extraordinary outcomes for their ‘customers’. They deliver, they have fun and they look forward to getting up every morning to help more people.

Now, here’s the interesting thing.  For two years, Christy worked in exactly the same kind of facility in another town where the boss was toxic, irrational, adversarial and unappreciative. There was high turnover, customers were not well served and everyone hated to come to work.

Rhonda is 33. She was the marketing manager of a chain of health food stores. She loved the company, embraced the healthy life style, worked long hours and helped grow sales by 22% in 11 months. But her boss (not the owner) yelled at her, swore at her, belittled her to the point that she would throw up before going into a meeting with him.

The business owner told Rhonda how she was ‘just like family’ but he allowed his vice president to treat her and everyone else in the company like dirt. So, Rhonda has quit, along with most of the other head office staff. And the boss is probably saying, “You can’t get good help anymore.”

So, there you have it.  Four horror stories from typical ‘millennials’ who tell me that it’s hard to find good bosses.  Something to think about.

Here’s something else to think about:
What changing consumer preferences and values are affecting your business?
Walmart is now the largest seller of groceries in America. Coke sales are down 20% in the past two years. Cushiony, lightweight Sketchers are the new ‘go to’ footwear for millions of older folks with bad knees and hips. Cremation is now 65% of the end-of-life disposition in North America, which means that the $4,000 casket is now replaced by a $300 urn.

Is your industry being shaken up by changing consumer preferences and values? How much time do you spend thinking about what’s happening in your market and industry and what it will take to be a profitable market leader in three to five years? What skills, talent, technology, systems and investment will be required? And what are you doing about it?


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This HGO article was written by:
Donald Cooper
Donald Cooper

Donald Cooper has been both a world-class manufacturer and an award-winning retailer. Now, as a business speaker and coach he helps business owners and managers throughout the world to rethink, refocus and re-energize their business to create compelling customer value, clarity of purpose and long-term profitability.


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