Lead a vivid life that does good

Month: February 2007

Generation Y

OK I admit it; I have been more than a little bit sceptical of the Generation Y buzz that has been around for the last few years. I have openly wondered if it is all just an excuse for a lack of discipline and hard work.

To be honest I didn’t really understand the link between the baby boomers, Gen X (of which I am a member) and Gen Y. My view changed somewhat when I saw this graph from Bernard Salt at The Knowledge Gym.

Geny click to picture to enlarge

It shows the net growth in the working aged population over a 100 year period. Bascially there is a decline in people joining the work force over the next 20 years as the Baby Boomers retire. Less people joining the work force and a growing economy simply don’t go together.

Bernard says that Gen Y’s are experiential, ethicists, uncommitted to career and consumerists. They have matured in prosperous times which means they have often received most of what they asked for.

Characteristics of Generation Y
   - Born 1976-1991 … now aged 16-31
   - Matured to adulthood in prosperous times
   - Many live at home with mum & dad
   - Very loyal to friends, to workmates, not to employers
   - Prefer ‘deals’ not contracts and ‘mentors’ not bosses
   - Will Inherit boomer wealth
   - Technology savvy; global thinking
   - They are the most educated generation to date.

So what does this mean to the Logistics industry in New Zealand?

Get used to immigrants.
Firstly we had better get used to immigrants filling the gaps. Most developed nations, except India, are going to have a labour shortage. A lot of our young talent will move off shore as huge Multinationals do recruitment drives down under. We will be able to attract people to NZ for lifestyle, but that means immigrants from countries where English is a second language.

I think that a lot of logistics and warehousing businesses understand this already, whereas transport companies seem a lot more reluctant to employ immigrants.

Get creative to attract Gen Y
Our industry will need to be a lot more creative about attracting Gen Y’s. They are not generally going to want to drive a truck for 60 hours a week. They will find pick/pack work dead boring. Most of all they will change jobs often and we may not been seen as edgey enough. The majority will head to Uni which will make it hard to attract them into a semi-skilled job.

We can no longer afford to just impose our current standards of employment on them. If we do they simply will not come.

There are a difficult few decades for the Gen X’s, like myself, to adapt and retain and lead the Gen Y’s. We need to take action now or we may not stand a chance.

People Matter

“Is this Mr Nicol”, asked the telesales person who interrupted my life shortly after I arrived home tonight. I answered “Yep”, which was followed by a very ungenuine “How are you?” I know it was ungenuine because I never actually got the chance to answer before she launched into her sales talk.

She talked for a full 90 secs and all the time I just stood there thinking about how she doesn’t give a toss about me, or for that fact, if I am interested in her product. She just wants to get her job done. Nothing wrong with that most people would say.

I thought afterwards about how easy it is for our staff to do the same thing. To answer a call, handle the call, take the order, track the delivery or resolve the complaint. But they can do it, we can do it, without showing that we actually care. Peoplematter

I am passionate about building a company that “Lives People Matter”, which means I want my team to continually remember that they are dealing with a real live person. A person who deserves honesty and authenticity and time.

We do this by encourageing our team to LISTEN first, CLARIFY by asking questions, EMPATHISE by putting themselves in the person shoes, then and only then to RESOLVE the issue.

It is so easy to think that we hear our clients’ problem and jump straight to resolve. The result is the person, the real living person, doesn’t leave the conversation feeling like they matter.

If they don't feel like they matter, we are just like the telesales person who interrupts our dinner.

Getting the best people

So you have a goal to build a strong employer brand. Great idea, but as you know that is easier said than done.

How does a medium sized company in the transport and logistics industry compete for great people against what can be seen as more sexy and edgy industries?

Well I am reading Jack Welch's book at the moment "Winning: The Answers". In the book Jack details the six critical factors for getting the best people.

JW1. Preferred employers demonstrate a real commitment to continuous learning.
2. Preferred employers are meritocracies. Pay and promotions are tightly linked performance, and rigorous appraisal systems consistently make people aware of where they stand.
3. Preferred employers not only allow people to take risks but also celebrate those who do. And they don't shoot those who try but fail.
4. Preferred employers understand that what is good for society is also good for business.
5. Preferred employers keep their hiring standards tight.  They make candidates work hard to join the ranks by meeting strict criteria that centre around intelligence and previous experience and by undergoing an arduous interview process.
6. Preferred companies are profitable and growing.

It's that easy! Well maybe? Interestingly enough though, this checklist could be applied to warehouse staff, truck drivers and senior managers. Have another look.

Oh, by the way he says it will take years, if not decades.

If you are interested you can listen to a podcast from Jack & Suzy on the same topic here.

Hard Work

Alan McDiarmid, a Kiwi and Nobel Prize winner in Chemistry, died today aged 79.

I saw an interview with him last year on Campbell live and he said this quote

" I am a very lucky person. And the harder I work, they luckier I seem to be"

Alan McDiarmid – 2006

Teamwork: Backyard Soccer

Backyardsoccer "We did it Kyla, we got a goal!" Talia hollers with excitement after she kicks the ball between the trampoline legs that have become the goal posts for our backyard soccer game.

Its kids verses Dad and there is a lesson in play for the girls. Its called Teamwork! Their tendency, their predisposition if you will, is to play as individuals, to both run around trying to get the ball off Dad and then each other, even though they are on the same team.

I explain to them that if Kyla comes to get the ball off me and Talia waits by the goal,they will get goals easier. Talia of course very offside but it is not a lesson in soccer rules. Now, because Dads are always really bad at soccer when playing with 5 and 7 year olds, Kyla easily manages to get the ball off me and kicks it to Talia. The distance of 3 metres is simply to enormous for me to cover in the 15 seconds it takes for Talia to line-up and score the goal which is met with shouts of pleasure from both girls. "Kyla and Talia 5 points, Daddy 1" they yell.

Anyway, I was thinking about grown up kids, like the kind I work with. Our tendency, our predisposition is to play as individuals. We often want to score the goal and have our turn and be in the limelight of success, rather than making sure that first and foremost the team wins!

Within our company team we have a number of smaller teams. Some of the teams function really well as… well teams. They pass their ball off to each other, which are off course the various aspects of their jobs. They don't really care who does what as long as the team gets the goal and the team wins!  Some other teams function more as individuals, they own just their part, don't pass the ball and continually try to just get goals themselves and often fail to keep up.

I guess it is no surprise which teams achieve the best results, have the most victories and generally win the most. It is of course the groups of people that realise they need each other and scoring a goal for the team is more important than getting a goal as an individual. They help each other out and have few lines drawn about who does what. They do what it takes to make sure the team wins.

Incidentally the winning teams, have heaps more fun, get a buzz out of winning and 'holler with excitement' when they get their goals.

Which 'team' would you rather be on?