Performance Matters: The Boomer’s Guide to Coaching Millennials

According to a recent Gallup report, more than half of Millennials are looking for a new job.  And that same report makes clear as employees of that generation don’t want bosses. They want coaches—people who can help them develop their abilities and contribute to meaningful work. That means Baby Boomer’s in leadership roles need to approach them differently than they might have wanted to be lead themselves. So besides realizing not all Millennials (just like Boomers) aren’t all the same, what should Baby Boomer’s do if they want to effectively recruit and retain and coach Millennial.

First, leaders must realize a paycheck alone won’t result in an engaged Millennial team member—or probably anyone else these days.  Those employees also want to know how their work impacts the organization’s stakeholders—owners, customers, other employees and their communities.  They want to know why and how fulfilling an organizational mission makes the world a better place—and how their working in that organization contributes to fulfilling that mission. There are endless possibilities for coaches to connect those concerns, including: how an employee’s work may allow the organization to be generous to community and non-profit organizations, or how their work might be helping make a safer, more reliable product that give its customer’s peace of mind.  The key here is tying the individual’s work and their own sense of purpose with the organization’s mission.   

Second, leaders have to get to know their Millennial team members as people, not as a monolithic generation.  Gone are the days when a good pension and health insurance meant an employee stayed with the organization for a lifetime.  Now, more than ever, leaders and managers must invest in building genuine relationships with their Millennial team members. If roughly 80%, as Gallup also indicates, of an employee’s sense of engagement (and thus, their productivity) comes from their relationship with a manager, then retaining productive employees means leaders must invest in understanding their Millennial employee’s goals and values, helping those team members to achieve their dreams and live out their values.  In doing so, these leaders can begin to coach their teammates in the context of that understanding, creating more institutional goodwill and reducing turnover.

Finally, these leaders should know annual reviews alone are a poor means of helping their Millennial team members understand their value to the organization.  Effective coaching is an ongoing and very personal process—the frequency and fervor must go beyond simply achieving tactical institutional goals.  It is built on a clear understanding of the employee’s goals and purpose and how they can best develop their skills and abilities, and how to develop them. In sports, coaches show their players how to execute a skill. Then they allow those players to demonstrate those skills.  Once they have observed that attempt, great coaches give prompt, constructive—and sometimes very straightforward—feedback in a relationship that is built on trust and mutual respect. 

Baby Boomer leaders should know that coaching your Millennial employees is simple.  It’s just not easy.  It will require a commitment of time, understanding, and a willingness for these leaders to accept their inter-generational differences in communication styles and values.Which means these leaders will have to adjust their strategies and tactics if they want to recruit, retain, and develop the Millennial generation talent. Doing such things will, with time, become a clear differentiator to Millennials—and for Baby Boomer leaders and their organizations—creating an environment where people the get to come to work rather than have to come to work.


Performance Matters: Aligning Customer Experience & the Happiest Place on Earth

They say it’s the happiest place on earth.  

And if you’ve ever been to a Disney resort or taken one of their cruises, you’ll probably agree–even if a hot dog and Coke will cost ya twenty bucks.

When many people visit Disney, they have saved all year (or several) to make the trip.  And their expectations are high.  They want the memories, the excitement of the rides, a clean park, to see their children and grandchildren smile, and to feel safe, free from the cares of their daily lives.  But despite those high expectations, Disney overwhelmingly gets it right.  Why?

Because Disney knows their guests are–deep down–seeking an experience, they aren’t just on vacation.  Disney takes nothing for granted, even teaching their staff how to direct people to locations in the park without awkwardly pointing and grunting “Magic Mountain is that way.”

So what can banks, hospitals, schools, government contractors and non-profit organizations learn from Disney?  First, they understand what their customers want.  Second, they take nothing for granted in how they equip their employees to meet customer expectations.  Third, the right customers are willing to pay for exceptional experiences.

All the evidence points to customer experience becoming the differentiator for the exceptional organization of the future.  So if you aren’t investing in understanding what your customers want, and aligning everything your organization–especially if you’re in a service business–does around that expectation, you’re putting their loyalty at risk.

If you’ve found this piece insightful, please share it with our friends and peers.  And if you’d like to know how Performance Strategies Group helps clients with strategic planning, alignment, and stakeholder relations–including customers–email Principal Consultant, Jim Owens, at


Performance Matters: Aligning People, Processes, & Policies

Alignment.  It’s not just about getting into your favorite yoga pose properly.

If you work in any large organization, you’ve probably heard the term.  But alignment isn’t just for large organizations.  And while alignment is about getting your vision and and tactics in synch with one another to maximize productivity, it’s not as mysterious a concept as many seem to think.  But there’s a big question to be answered when trying to create more aligned organizations.  So where should we start?

Effective alignment begins with the customer!

It doesn’t matter if we are trying to align a single department or an entire organization, everything we do in any organization is about serving a customer or client.  So when we build policies, assign roles to people, or build organizational charts and processes we have to begin with the needs of the customer.  Sure, we have to make sure everything we do is compliant with laws and regulations, but when we focus on customers in that context, great things can happen.

At the moment, Performance Strategies Group is in middle of a stakeholder relations research on behalf of a client as part of a strategic planning engagement.  That means we are helping our client to identify customer’s opinions about products, their needs, frustrations, and even the reputation of the organization itself,  Yes, we’re also getting feedback from staff, board members, and other appropriate constituencies, but this, or any other organization doesn’t understand the customer’s experience and how easy or difficult it makes them to do business with us, alignment efforts are little more than a lab experiment.  

Whether you’re a CEO, a sales advisor, or a quality control engineer, you have to talk to your clients.  Okay, we will get off our soap box.  Enough said.

If you’ve found this piece insightful, please share it with our friends and peers.  And if you’d like to know how Performance Strategies Group helps clients with strategic planning, alignment, and stakeholder relations–including customers–email Principal Consultant, Jim Owens, at


Performance Matters: What did you do last night and uncertainty.


It can cause us everything from a bit of anxiety—that pit in our stomachs—to outright panic. But when it comes to our relationships when can feel uncertainty when we walk into a crowded room, meet a new boss, or make a sales call. And at the core of those experiences, we all want to reduce our sense of uncertainty.

So how can we lower that uncertainty quickly and build better and more productive relationships? By learning how, when, and where to ask the right questions. 

Consider this question:  What did you do last night?  It’s a simple question.  But it has a possibility of evoking a remarkable variety of emotions based on how, when, and where we ask. 

If it’s said gently to a teenager, even when we believe they’ve been up to something inappropriate, it might evoke a quiet, “not much.”  But if we ask it in the form of an accusation, WHAT DID YOU DO LAST NIGHT? it’s likely to evoke a denial, or worse, anger. And if we wake them in the middle of the night ask—no matter what tone we use—we’re only creating more uncertainty and anxiety.  But what if we phrased it this way after the teenager has slept the night, had breakfast and is wide awake?  Tell me about your evening last night?  Wouldn’t we avoid some uncertainty and have a more productive conversation?

When we’re with a prospect—particularly one who might not know us well—each us trying to lower uncertainty.  The prospect wants to know if we are competent, honest, and that our product is fairly priced and best for him.  So we might ask him, “What would you like to know about me and my company or our products?”before anything else. If you’re a sales person and want to become a trusted-advisor,reducing your prospect’s uncertainty first will allow you to offer something about your expertise, the benefits of your product, or even personal references in return.    Once we’ve done that, we can move on to ask our own questions about his business needs and do so in such a manner that inspires confidence in us as an advisor.

There’s much more to be said about asking questions and reducing uncertainty—and we know the teenager example might seem a little extreme.  But in the coming weeks, we’ll show you have you can use this technique with employees to lead more effectively, reduce stress, and improve employee engagement.

Until then….

If you’ve found this information useful, encouraging or might see a way we can improve it, please let us know.  And if you thought it was encouraging, forward it to a friend so they can subscribe. If you want to find out more about how Performance Strategies Group helps organizations sharpen their sales skills and processes, builds more self-aware and resilient leaders, or equip more productive teams, find us online at, or call Principal Consultant, Jim Owens @ 256-426-0305.


Performance Matter: Engaged and Productive Team Members

Recently, we’ve been doing some work with strategic planningclients. And a lot of our discussion is around attracting, developing, and retaining engaged productive employees. 

Based on our experience and research, engaged employees (the one’s who feel like they getto come to work rather than have to come to work) are more productive on almost every measure.   But what keeps them highly engaged?  Most of them say its because they understand their roles and are appreciated for their contributions to the organization’s mission.  Benefits, salary, and working conditions are, of course, also important.  But those things are really like milk, eggs, and bread in a grocery store.  They’re like minimum requirements for getting people to come in the door!

So if you’re trying to attract, retain, and develop top talent, you have to have those things.  So how can leaders differentiate their organizations from their competition if those items are largely a commodity to your team?

First, make sure every employee understands how their role fulfills a larger purpose.  If an accounts receivable clerk doesn’t realize how getting billing done accurately and promptly affects the organizations cash flow, they may just be going through the motions of getting tasks done.  But if they don’t realize their peers might not get paid if they don’t get those bills out, they won’t really see the larger value in what they do and they will be less engaged.

Second, ask your team member’s this simple question.  On a scale of one to ten, how happy are you to be working here?  Tell them a onemeans you’d be looking for another job if your salary was tripled and that a ten means you’d work here for free if you had the means to do so.  Once you have the answer, ask them this.  How can I help move that number closer to a ten? You will be stunned at what you learn.

Over the years, we’ve heard things like, “I really need a new computer,” and “I’d like to do something more challenging.”  Or they might say, “I need to be able to adjust my work hours a bit to help out with my family.” The mere asking of these questions will help people feel more valued within your organization. And it will make them want to become even more productive.

Obviously, there’s a lot more to be said about employee engagementand productivity.  And you have to be careful to pose the questions in the light of what you can control.  If it’s possible to deliver that employees request, do it.  If it’s not, make sure to explain why it isn’t possible.  More often than not, people will appreciatejust knowing why a change can’t be made.  But whatever you do, don’t just ignore their response.  You’re better off not asking than not delivering one of the two possible responses.

We will talk more about employee engagement in future.  So stay tuned!

If you’ve found this information useful, encouraging or might see a way we can improve it, please let us know.  And if you thought it was encouraging, forward it to a friend so they can subscribe. If you want to find out more about how Performance Strategies Group helps organizations sharpen their sales skills and processes, builds more self-aware and resilient leaders, or equip more productive teams, find us online at, or call Principal Consultant, Jim Owens @ 256-426-0305.



Performance Matters: Strategic Planning and Relentless Measurement

For the past four weeks, we’ve been discussing the essential components of an effective, actionable strategic planning process for your organization.  We’ve addressed the need to engage stakeholders, ask (and answer) critical questions, plan continuously,  and to implement only needle-moving strategies and tactics.  This week, we’ll address the essential need to have a relentless measurement process in place to insure you successfully implement your plan.

Keeping score matters. So your strategic tactical must include a systematic and relentless measurement component. Some things need to be measured every day. Some every week. And some need less frequent measurement. But everyone must know what is being measured and how often if they are to help the organization achieve its goals and fulfill its mission. And that measurement system must in answer the following questions.

What’s the goal?

Who is responsible for achieving that goal?

How will it be measured?

How often will it be measure?

What will we do if we are not being successful?

Most leaders would like to believe their organizations are agile. But if they aren’t consistently and accurately measuring the effectiveness of their strategies and tactics, they don’t know when to make changes in their policies, processes, people, or procedures. In short, they won’t know when their execution of tactics is out of alignment with their organizational mission. So they will simply be wasting resources in their effort to achieve it.

Obviously, no series of blog posts can adequately comprehensively address the topic of strategic planning.  So if you’d like to know more abut how PSG works with clients to build and execute simple and effective strategic plans, contact Principal Consultant, Jim Owens, at



Performance Matters: Strategic Planning and Engaging Stakeholders

Over the past few weeks, we’ve covered a variety of issues related to creating a straightforward, meaningful strategic planning process for your organization.  We’ve stressed the importance of continuous planning, answering critical questions, and implementing only needle-moving strategies and tactics.  This week, we address the importance of engaging stakeholders in the process.

If you want buy-into your strategic planning process and its goals, you must let   people weigh-inthroughout the process.  If you’re leading a 7-member organization allowing everyone to weigh-in is simple, and relatively easy.  But if you leading a 700-member team, getting them to weigh in will be a challenge.  So develop a representative list of team members and, if nothing else, give them the opportunity to point out what they see for your organization in the way of threats and opportunities.  A brief survey throughout the year can be a remarkably effective means of generating needle-moving strategies.

In larger organizations, leaders can become far-removed from their customers.  They might not see inefficiencies in the production process.  Or they might be unaware of some emerging threat or opportunity simply because they don’t have as good a communication channel as they believe they might, or they don’t have the time to wander around the organization and talk to enough people.  Be sure to let your stakeholders know what you’ve reviewed their ideas and, if possible, make sure they know why you haven’t acted upon them. Doing this will help minimize disengagement by letting your team know you take their input seriously.

As you’ve begun to identify strategies and tactics for implementation, let your team have the chance weigh-inon those too!  Most organizations struggle to keep everyone engaged and that costs them productivity.  By keeping them engaged throughout a continuous process, you will improve organizational trust, commitmentand, ultimately, results!

Finally, make sure to engage your customers!  At the end of all our planning and tactics there sits a customer.  If possible, talk to them.  Ask them why they chose to business with your organization, what would make them decide to choose another provider, and how you can insure they will be your customers for life?  Brief surveys, dinner with a group of significant customers, and focus groups throughout the year can be an extraordinary and high-return investment on the time and money you will invest in this process.

If you’d like more information about how Performance Strategies Group helps our clients build meaningful, actionable and differentiating strategic and tactical plans, email Principal Consultant, Jim Owens, at