How to Lead and Inspire Older Employees

FAN2038498It wasn’t always the case, but these days many business owners and CEOs are younger than the workforce they lead and manage. A “one-size-fits-all” leadership style is therefore likely to result in a troubled workplace environment since it fails to consider key differences in dealing with employees of the Baby Boomer generation or even with Gen-Xers.

But if you’re a young leader who truly wishes to lead and inspire your team, here are tips for bridging the generational gap and bringing out the best in your employees.

Acknowledge that differences exist.

There’s nothing to be gained by pretending a person in her twenties has the same outlook and skillset as another person in her forties or fifties. Start by recognising differences in perspectives so you can work toward coalescing different-aged employees into a cohesive team.

Don’t make assumptions.

Do you ever look at an older employee and automatically assume they’re “too old to change” or “can’t keep up with the times”? That’s prejudicial thinking and works against any leader hoping to motivate their workforce. Instead, consider the wealth of experience an older employee has and focus on his or her ability and willingness to learn new things.

Provide context for planned changes.

Yes, some older workers may resist a new company-wide initiative, if only because they’re wary of change in general. Often, this resistance stems from a lack of understanding about the “why” behind the new approach. Offering context helps answer questions and generates a fresh way of looking at a change that many older employees will embrace.

Take a flexible approach to communications.

Texting or email may be your preferred mode of expression, but you’ll have better luck reaching out in person with older staff who like face-to-face communications. Business author and speaker Ray Pelletier urges young CEOs and leaders who want to give feedback to employees to “get up from your desk and walk over to them to give it.” He adds: “The more human contact you give them, the more respect they’ll have for you.”

Don’t present yourself as “knowing it all.”

An older employee will naturally resent any young person, CEO or not, who gives off a know-it-all vibe. (Chances are, no employee of any age will warm to this leadership style.) Counter this impression by being both approachable and coachable. Take advantage of a seasoned employee’s perspective and ask questions aimed at getting beneath the surface of a workplace issue or challenge.

“Having members from different generations means more viewpoints and creativity—which gives your business an advantage—so use it,” says Nicole Laurrari, president of The EGC Group. “You can never over-communicate that everyone’s opinion and ideas count.”

You can build immense reservoirs of goodwill and trust with this approach. Employees will greatly appreciate that you value their hard-earned knowledge and will likely feel more motivated to please you.

Put them in charge of projects.

Laurrari also suggests giving a qualified older employee a leadership role in important projects. This person may not take the same approach as you would, but with their skills and experience, “they can bring viable solutions to the table that others members of the team may not have thought of.”

Invite an older employee to be a mentor.

Depending on the workplace environment, asking an older employee to mentor someone on the team might yield highly beneficial results.

You might also suggest they “present their expertise at lunch-and-learns and team meetings,” says HR professional Kazim Ladimeji. This sends the signal to younger employees that it’s worth their time to “approach more experienced workers for their insights and knowledge.”

Your chief objective as business owner and leader is to mould a team and forge strong connections between yourself and your employees. An open-minded, inclusive and sharing leadership style—aimed at everyone in the company, but especially older, wary employees—will pay off with a workforce that understands “we’re all in this together,” regardless of differences in age, perspective and experience.


Involve Your Team in Setting Goals

Regular team meetings with employees are needed to ensure that everyone is on the same page and to involve them with setting company goals. Here is a suggested agenda to go through during the meeting to help employees see the big picture and feel empowered to achieve the desired goals.

1.  Use Tabenos to develop a Charter for your team’s meetings (This is  a charter of behaviour that all TAB members abide with at TAB meetings)

2.  Make a list of Top 10 reasons Why customers use your product/service

3.  Make a list of Top 10 reasons why the company is a good place to work

4.  Identify competitors and your company’s SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats).

5.  Breakdown €1 in revenue decreasing by expenses to get down to profit for each €1 of sales.

6.  Revisit your company’s mission, vision and values

7.  Ask employees “What would you do if you were CEO for a day?”

8.  Develop an Action Plan to determine Who will do What by When.

9. Set some goals where you will celebrate their achievement.



How to Have Tough Conversations

I have found the following three approaches to help minimise potential anger and defensiveness when I am about to have a difficult conversation. First, focus on yourself and what you can do better. You can even ask the other person, “Please share what am I doing to make you feel or act that way.”

Second, focus on feelings instead of actions and blame. Use phrases such as “I feel this way” as opposed to “You did that!”

Third, ask “What do you need from me to make this work better?


How to Treat Recruiting Like a Sales Process

recruiting, human resources, finding top talent, recruiting when people are scarce

In the fevered competition to recruit and hire “A-player” job candidates, many recruiters and HR departments are turning to a different model to get the job done. Imposing the structure of a sales process offers a new way to look at recruitment in general, and how to better position their own companies in particular. This approach might well be the answer to your own recruiting challenges.

Here’s a look at how taking a sales approach to hiring can work for your business:

Adapt elements of sales to recruiting. Your sales team follows a rigorous process of cultivating, nurturing and converting sales leads. With a little imagination, your in-house recruiter can adapt many of these same elements for the hiring process. HR thought leader Kim Shepherd advises following these “sales-like” steps:

  • Define the value proposition of your company for job candidates.
  • Reconfigure that value proposition into an appealing message.
  • Disseminate that message to targeted prospects via job boards, social media, etc.
  • Qualify and manage “candidate leads” as they come in.
  • Pursue the most promising candidates and close the deal.

Look at your applicant tracking system as “more than storage for archiving resumes,” Shepherd writes. Use it to “build and manage a pipeline, including measuring leads, tracking conversion rates and even creating the recruitment version of a sales forecast.” In this way, you develop clear-cut metrics, including job candidate targets and deliverables.

Act like a high-performing salesperson. The best members of your sales team diligently stay on top of everything happening in the industry—reading blog posts and articles, reviewing trade publications, looking closely at potential clients’ websites and so on.

They also maintain an active presence on social media, passing along helpful links, connecting with influencers and sharing news about your company without openly engaging in a “sales pitch” to job candidates. “Don’t fall into the trap of tweeting sales jobs! Jobs! and more Jobs!” warns Live and Learn Consultancy LTD. “It’s not authentic and guess what, no one listens.”

Become a pro at selling your company. Here’s an area where many businesses can improve their odds of “bagging” the candidates they truly want. Look at the situation from the job-seeker’s perspective and develop compelling answers to these questions:

  • Why should I want to work for your company?
  • What does your company offer that I can’t find at one of your competitors?
  • What growth opportunities do you offer?
  • How do you foresee the company growing in the near future in ways that benefit me and other potential employees?

These are variations on the types of questions prospective clients ask of any company seeking their business. You’ll see greater interest among job applicants if you answer these questions in an authentic and inspiring manner.

Show off your culture. Just as a salesperson might give a potential client a tour of your business—in order to demonstrate how the culture is geared towards serving customers’ needs—so a recruiter should be prepared to show off your culture to achieve similar results.

Of course, candidates will get a taste of your workplace environment when they show up for an interview, so it’s imperative that they leave with a favourable first impression. Put together a “package tour” so candidates meet your best, most outgoing employees, get the chance to see your technology at work and get a feel for what’s going on. In many ways, this experience might be the “close” to your sales approach.

Finally, even if things don’t work out, be sure to end the budding relationship on a positive note. No one wants a disgruntled job applicant tweeting and posting unfavourable comments about your company based on a bad interview or recruiting experience. You never know when a candidate who wasn’t the right fit might (because he or she remembers how pleasant and approachable your recruiters were) refer a friend or colleague who turns out to be precisely the A-player employee you’re looking for.


7 Tips for Managing Your Millennial Sales Team

Millennial sales team















We often hear that millennial employees are a breed apart, and require a shift in management style and perspective. The same can be said about a millennial sales team and what’s needed to effectively manage and leverage their particular outlook and talents. Generally speaking, think of these younger salespeople as self-confident, positive thinkers who are thoroughly comfortable with digital technologies in all forms, and ready to take on sales challenges unique to your company and industry.

The key is providing the right type of guidance and training to maximise their efforts on behalf of your organisation. Here are seven key tips:

1. Zero in on their motivation. Like any other employees, millennials want to be paid a fair wage for the work they do. But perhaps more than other generations, they’re often motivated by the need to “make a difference”—in their community or in the world at large. It’s worth the effort to meet with your sales team members to better understand what drives them on a personal and professional level.

2. Be prepared to offer flexible work schedules. You may have already instituted flexible work schedules in your organisation, but if not, think carefully about trying to restrict millennial salespeople to a rigid 9-to-5 routine.

Again speaking in general terms, these strongly self-motivated individuals can be relied upon to attend to daily or weekly sales-activity objectives. But, they also believe they can do in a flexible way—and may bridle at being restricted to a strict 9-to-5 workplace schedule. Look into what type of flexible work schedules enable them to achieve maximum productivity.

3. Offer feedback (and plenty of it). Millennials thrive on feedback, especially when it’s frequent and constructive (as opposed to quarterly or semi-annual performance reviews). They want to hear from their managers that they’re doing a good job, which will make them work even harder. But they’re also open to critiques that let them build on their existing knowledge and experience.

4. Provide training bite-sized portions. Sales training is critically important for millennials, as it is for other generations of salespeople. Adopting a formalised training program, however, may not be the best approach.

Millennials favour shorter, condensed training sessions, not day-long workshops or other, more traditional classroom-style approach. Look into interactive sales training software that plays to their ability to absorb information in quick, interactive programs. You’ll likely see better results this way.

5. Give them guidance on selling to older generations. A key area of training for this generational cohort is guidance on selling to clients who aren’t millennials. It’s important to train millennials on the best ways to reach out to customers with different generational needs and desires. After all, if they can’t understand what drives these individuals and business owners, “they will struggle to maintain relationships with some clients and close sales with many prospects.”

6. Encourage collaboration. Back in the day, companies often found benefits in pitting one salesperson against another. That’s not the ideal approach to sales management for millennials, who tend to favour collaboration over competition.

Emphasise a team approach to sales management, with plenty of opportunities to brainstorm together, pair more experienced individuals with sales rookies, etc. It’s also a good idea to reward the entire sales team for successful deals, rather than only single out individuals for praise.

7. Take advantage of their digital know-how. Remember, millennials understand digital technologies inside and out, including how to sell via social media. Rather than shoehorn them into one approach or another, encourage your team to “continuously adopt new technologies and integrate the latest, most sophisticated digital sales tools into their repertoire.” They’ll benefit from the infusion of exciting new ways to approach sales and your company will benefit from their willingness to explore these new strategies.

You have a unique opportunity to draw upon your millennial sales team’s generational strengths and enthusiasm. Don’t let that opportunity slip by.

Want to learn more about sales management and training? Find out if a TAB Board is right for you!