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: 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 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



Performance Matters: Conflict–Don’t Argue with Me!


Unless you live on a deserted island, you’ve probably experienced it with someone. Sometimes, conflict manifests itself in an outburst of emotion and sometimes it’s just a sense of tension between two or more people. And sometimes there’s conflict we aren’t even aware exists (which is the worst kind).  But whatever the case, conflict distracts us and makes our teams less productive if we don’t address it.  And as leaders, we have to take action.

So what can we do about it? 

First, we need to recognize the source of the conflict.  Is it over an idea?  A different way of doing something, solving a problem or how to seize an opportunity.  Or is the conflict arising from different behavioral stylesand how we communicate?  Or is it because you or someone else has an agenda—maybe a selfish or altruistic one?  If we can identify the source of the conflict, then we have the opportunity to resolve it effectively.  It might not be easy, and it might take some courage, but it is possible.

If we’ve identified the conflict is over behavioral and communication styles, we can attempt to adapt our own style some and invite others to do the same.  Maybe we are analytical and detail conscious.  So perhaps we need to be willing to look at the big picture in a given situation.  And if we are a bottom-line, let’s just get to it and make a decision sort of person, perhaps we can become more thoughtful, more willing to listen to someone who needs to work through all of the risks and opportunities of a given situation.  We need to seek an agreement with others to keep focusing on the idea, problem or opportunity.

Dealing with people with an altruistic agenda isn’t nearly as difficult as when we suspect they have a selfish agenda.  In this case, we have to recognize there’s little we can do to prove our belief.  The only thing we can do is take responsibility for our side of the relationship—what, when, and how we say something.  We may need to gently challenge someone with this type of an agenda by asking, “Help me understand why you believe this so strongly.”  Or when we are offering our own positions, we might suggest, “I might be wrong, but here is what I think.”Accusations rarely accomplish much.  But we might actually learn something from someone that can help us build a better relationship.  When someone has an altruistic agenda, we simply have to stay focused on the ideasregarding how resources are allocated to solve a problem or achieve a goal.

Finally, we have to realize conflict itself natural. And it can be very productive.  When people trust one another, spirited debate is possible.  And that debate can help us expose biases in our decision-makingand leadership styles. It can help us produce new ideas, innovate, and become more productive.  And if we never have any conflict within our teams, chances are we are missing opportunities for our organizations to prosper.

Now please, don’t argue with me.  I know I’m right!  Or maybe not.

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: The Beatings Will Continue Until Morale Improves

We’re still getting feedback about our question: What makes a great leader?   So indulge us a bit longer. 

One thing we’ve heard a lot about is how many effective leaders seem to get people to follow them without much effort.  For some, it seems like a learned skill. Still, others seem to have a natural ability to get people to trust one another.  They have the capacity to get people to buy-in to a vision, a strategy, or to inspire people to work through the challenges to executing on the tactics they have developed with one another.  At the heart of these leaders seems to be a sense of kindness.  That doesn’t mean they can’t address problems or challenge people who aren’t doing their jobs.  But they do so with an appreciation for other people’s circumstances.  They try to determine whether performance shortcomings are a willingness or an ability problem.  And they pay attention to the resources their teams need to be successful.

If your team—be they sales people or otherwise—is falling short in some way, make sure you’ve created an environment where they can share the whole truth about why.  If they don’t feel safe—that they can trust you enough to tell you the truth—you won’t have information you need to help them succeed.  And give them the chance to determine how they will improve—don’t just tell them what they need to do. Let them weigh-in so they can buy-in. If you’re leading with the attitude—even unwittingly—the beatings will continue until morale improves, you’ve already lost some followers.  And if no one is following you, chances are you’re not really leading. You’re just going for a walk.    

For more information about Performance Strategies Group go to or call Principal Consultant, Jim Owens, at 256-426-0305


Performance Matters: The Emperor’s New Clothes

Leadership & TeamworkThe Emperor’s New Clothes

In a fable that has been translated into more than one hundred languages, Han’s Christian Anderson’s The Emperor’s New Clothesis the tale of two weavers promising their emperor a new suit of clothes visible only those fit for their positions.  When the emperor dons his new suit and wanders naked amongst his subjects only a child is willing to point out “he isn’t wearing anything at all.”So what the heck does this have to do with leadership?

Becauseit’s easy for leaders to find themselves living in a vacuum.  With their teams (subjects?) reluctant to question or challenge their emperor, such would-be leaders will never have the chance to learn from their teams, benefit from their creativity, or even to hear when there is a problem within their organization.  This reluctance can be the result out of fear of reprisal or because offering their insights, challenging assumptions, or proposing new solutions is pointless because the emperor just isn’t listening. 

So what’s the moral of the story?

For leaders, perhaps it’s about becoming more self-awareand asking themselves a few questions like:

  • When is the last time someone challenged my assumptions, decisions, or even my leadership and communication style?
  • Am I creating an environment in which my team is eager and and willing to share their thoughts, challenge assumptions, and ask me difficult questions?
  • What do my answers mean relative to my leadership role and achieving our mission?

There are dozen’s more.  But you get the point.

SalesBreaking Through Performance Plateaus:  Coming Soon!

Next week, we’ll deal with this topic!  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.