Last Sunday, my mother, Frieda, and I were invited to participate in a panel discussion at the Hotel Irvine in Irvine, California, to share our experiences as members of a family business. (By the way, a family business is defined as one that has two or more family members in positions of authority.)
You know, our lessons learned that we could share with others.
We were invited by my longtime friend and fellow woman business owner, Patty DeDominic. Patty founded of one of the largest staffing companies in Los Angeles County, PDQ Personnel Services, more than 30 years ago. She sold her company a few years ago and is now running Maui Masterminds, an organization that helps business owners build businesses that they love through private business coaching.
Joining us on the panel was Brian Thomson, who is the second generation in and current President of LH Thomson, a manufacturer of aerospace parts for companies like Boeing. And for the last 20 years, the company has also run a niche business in patented bicycle parts.
After 30 minutes of our facilitated discussion, it was time for my favorite part, Q&A with the audience.
“How do you deal with all the different generations of workers in your business and how different they are?”
I especially like that question! Here at Frieda’s, we make a concerted effort to hire and retain all age levels—from the early 20s to older than 50s—because we like our team to be well-rounded so it mirrors our customer and supplier base.
I also shared my thoughts on Millennials (aka Gen Y) about their supposed lack of work ethics or inability to work hard. I am sick and tired of hearing that because it simply is not true. Millennials just have a different perspective from us Baby Boomers.
Instead of growing up expecting to have just one or two careers in their lifetimes, Millennials now know they will have multiple career changes through out their lives—maybe 10 or more careers—some of which don’t even exist yet! They want to be challenged and valued, and to be upwardly mobile in a short time.
“What do you do about all the instant messaging and texting in the workplace? How can you control it?”
That question was asked by a fellow Baby Boomer or possibly a Gen Xer (also known as the “skeptic generation”). I had to confide to the audience that it had been an adjustment for me to walk through the office and see people looking at Facebook or texting while at their desks “working.”
But I came to the conclusion years ago—with some coaching from my HR Manager and many seminars—that instead of worrying about controlling the social media activity and texting, I should ask myself one question: “Did they make their numbers?” or “Are they getting their work done?”
You see, the paradigm has shifted in offices today. And we can thank the multitasking Millennial generation that grew up being connected 24/7 to their friends and family.
We Baby Boomer bosses cannot judge others solely by how we were raised and trained. We have to condition ourselves that in order to attract and retain the best employees and team members, we need to be flexible and understand what motivates them. And we need to provide coaching and mentoring.
Although many of us grew up separating “business from personal” (e.g., limiting socializing with the folks you work with), for Millennials, some of their closest friends are those they work with. If we want to keep them, we’re going to have to be their friends too!
The Maui Masterminds session was only 45 minutes and it flew by. When it was over, the man who asked me the question about instant messaging and texting stopped me in the lobby and said, “Thanks for your honest answer. I guess texting in the workplace is here to stay.”
Just something to think about,