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The generation game. Why an evolving workplace must embrace multiple perspectives.
A cuddly toy!
I remember it well, the Generation Game; the conveyor belt of prizes was the highlight of our weekend as we hunkered down to watch the weekend telly, smacking it on the side to get a better picture in time for old Bruce Forsyth to chime up with him timeless ‘nice to see you, to see you….NICE!’ catchphrase.
It wasn’t the same for me when they introduced Jim Davidson, Graham Norton or even Mel & Sue…
But it got me thinking lately about how times change, the legacy we remember and the things that in a modern world, entwined between digital and physical, our globally connected networks, simply don’t cut it anymore. Time perhaps to think about the romance of our own experiences and rather than forcing that bygone era and our experiences on the youth, instead allow them to connect with things that make their own future nostalgia and identify with the shows, communities and spaces that will be their cuddly toy moment in years to come.
A lot’s changed, even in my time but my boys will still drop their devices and controllers at times and ask what’s that, can you show me? when they see just how much fun can still be had with a book, a puzzle or a good old fashioned football!
What do I see?
I see the push and pull of generational shift playing out at home when my kids (Gen Alpha) are seemingly way beyond their years in terms of technical and digital adoption. It’s just simply what they grow up using isn’t it?
I remember my years of coming home from school and having 60 minutes (not because that’s what was allowed, it’s all there was!) of kids’ TV. Then I had to find other ways to amuse myself.
Whereas I would become quite adept at using the tape player (and those before me, the record player), my kids now are more than comfortable touching, tapping, pausing, skipping and being wholly absorbed in the world of now. An on-demand culture that creates at its more frustrating end a real tendency for impatience, stubbornness and self-righteousness.
At its best, it does of course create independence, a curious eye and the abundance of all information and knowledge one person could ever need!
I see my kids jump on a video call without a moment’s hesitation and expect the car to talk to them when we are on the phone. I remember reading an article a few years back that suggested the kids of today will not know a time when they couldn’t speak to their home (the rise of the smart speaker and home assistant)
The tech has become so entwined in our everyday lives, the rate of innovation has accelerated so much I can only sit back with real curiosity about what’s next. I’d be lying if it didn’t worry me at times but there’s no denying that our lives have evolved – I’m officially getting old!
4 generations in one workplace – the power of perspective
Read more 👉 Developing an effective sales culture (free download resource)
The environment in which we grow undoubtedly shapes us. Time and again we hear and see the old adage it’s not like that here. We do things like that here. A job for life! Work hard you’ll get paid more!
But likewise working with the more modern sales teams and future managers and leaders we see that money in itself isn’t the main motivator. We see the corporate purpose and vision playing an important part.
Sales is changing. It has had to, thanks not only to the worldwide pandemic but also because the “new kids on the block”, aka the millennial generation, have an entirely different perspective on the world. We talk more about this too in our book Modern Sales Leadership which is available on Amazon and direct from the link at the bottom of the article. – Modern sales leadership by rob taylor & Steve knapp.
What are the different lenses of the generations at work?
Modern buying and selling. Seeing things from a different perspective
The Circle of Concern is different for us all
If the baby boomers in leadership roles now grew up in a time when there wasn’t a digital version of themselves, there wasn’t on-demand TV or a 24-hour news cycle, then it makes absolute sense doesn’t it that the fact all these things exist today would have a profound impact on those growing up in this time of absolute abundance? The things that shape us but we cannot control are what fall into our circle of concern. The wider macro events and cultural changes create the paradigm in which each generation views their world and therefore their circle of influence and circle of control.
Take a look at this example we found on the making better mistakes website. Can you see how this plays out for different generations in your workplace?
Source: making better mistakes.
Practice empathy & listen better.
What is empathy?
One big takeaway for me in the context of this article would be to acknowledge your biases; from a buying and selling perspective.
According to Harvard Business Review: We all have biases or prejudices toward individuals or groups, whether we’re aware of them or not. So-called conscious bias refers to biases that people recognise.
An example would be feeling threatened by another group and voicing opposition to that group’s beliefs or actions. But implicit or unconscious bias is more subtle, making it challenging to recognise.
Common examples of these biases relate to differences in gender, race, class, age, weight, and culture.
Read more about empathy and how you can become a more empathetic listener over on the Harvard Business Review.
What changes are we seeing in your workplace?
Have you noticed many changes in your workplace? Does the 9 to 5 work as well as it used to? Are you actually more productive since allowing hybrid working? Is your workforce happier? We’ve all heard of things such as the great resignation but how does it all shape up for you in what is an evolving workplace?
The changing face of the sales workforce.
Gen Z and the need for change.
We speak a lot about the millennial population and their expectations of the workplace but what about Gen Z too?
They see themselves as extremely hardworking and enjoy a well-balanced work and personal life. Gen Z employees value mental health and work to ensure peace of mind – a work life blend.
In order to attract and retain Gen Z recruits, companies must be receptive towards their needs and be more forward thinking in their approach. If Gen Z can identify with your company’s values, you’ll have a dedicated and talented team on your hands to help you succeed. This highlights the need for brands to tell their story and share what they stand for, their values and ethics and not be afraid to show it.
25% of the workforce are made up of Gen Z (Jan 2022)
Like I wouldn’t expect my kids to sit down for 60 minutes to watch the now archaic Generation Game on a sketchy old television, I don’t think organisations can expect to tell the new workforce to do what we’ve always done and expect to get better results. It’s really no wonder the workforce get bored, the average tenure of a salesperson is thought to be between 13 and 18 months (source: HubSpot)
Hybrid working is here to stay.
It used to be seen as blagging a day off, didn’t it? I’m working from home today. The dreaded line would land me in hot water a few times when in practice I’d get more done sooner than if I took myself to the office. Until March 2020 it was very much the perspective from the workplace that a day at home was a day off, at least in my experiences. This is what we mean when we suggest that the pandemic simply accelerated what was going to happen anyway; overnight, companies needed to adapt to a flexible way of working.
Forbes suggests that remote working is here to stay and this provides some excellent opportunities that, in my opinion, far outweigh the risk.
A desire for flexibility – from your buyer too.
If we can expect millennials to make up 75% of the workplace by 2025 and 80% of B2B interactions to be via digital channels by the same year, it makes sense for an organisation today to start making this a part of the culture moving forwards?
However, if the baby boomer mindset of the leadership team is that of work hard, be in the office, motivated by position and money, then there is a risk we create a drifting and frustrated workforce that is anything but a customer focussed sales organisation.
Your customers also expect you to show up differently. A large majority of B2B buyers are now millennials and guess what? They are buying differently, too! Over 90% of every buying decision starts online. How you and your team show up online matters. We talk about this in greater detail on our Digitalisation of the sales process article to help you understand in greater depth how your marketplace is changing.
👉 Watch more about why you should build your brand story for better sales.
44% of millennial B2B customers would prefer not to interact with a sales rep at all.
Be curious, learn, try.
There really is a risk that we, as business leaders, have created a culture that is comfortable for us, the leaders, and not one that truly embraces the needs and drivers of the modern workforce. We must drop our entrenched and ageing views and welcome the new ways of buying and selling from the perspective and understanding of their circle of concern and the environment they are growing up in. Give your teams the freedom to be curious, to learn and to try. Like my kids at home, they will soon adopt the more old fashioned ways of doing things when they see that all these years down the line, they still can be pretty handy!
📚Treat yourself to the Modern Sales Leadership book.
But what are the benefits of developing a more integrated sales culture?
Retention, loyalty, results!
Your sales culture must contribute to business outcomes of course and you can expect substantial benefits around staff churn, staff performance and demand. A healthy competition that is fostered in the right environment can expect to outperform the competition.
Your staff will be happier we know this because research carried out by Columbia University tells us that you typically see a 13.9% staff turnover vs 48.4% turnover in more outdated business.
With 70% of sales execs leaving their role because of a breakdown in communication with their direct line manager.
A last question for you. What do Google, Adobe, Samsung, Microsoft and HubSpot all have in common?
You’ve probably worked this out by now. You’ve got it, they have incredibly sound organisational cultures. We know this because in a 2021 these brands ranked top when it came to corporate culture. What else do they have in common? Well, they all operate in incredibly competitive fields and excel in terms of sales and revenue.
If you can truly embrace the opportunities that lie within developing this culture of an integrated team, you will no doubt be building a team set for sales success in 2022 and beyond.