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 Seven Colleagues


Can we train every employee to be CEO one day?  Of course, it would be a rare employee that ends up in that lofty position, but shouldn’t it be possible?  The idea isn’t to convince workers that being CEO is their career path, but to allow them feel a part of the entire operation in a way that makes them realize the importance of everyone who works there and see value in the whole.  Bit by bit, they learn everything there is to know about the business.

A fabulous idea, I admit.  And I know there are companies out there that do more than say their employees are sales associates or sales managers–a euphemism for sales person in most cases.  There are companies that believe their people are the most important resource they have – as important as the product they produce – a concept that appeals to the idealistic young.

This idea may be a solution for retaining the young passionate workers, who might be losing that passion.  We find the “older set” takes over the company and keeps things exactly as they are.  The “younger set” becomes disillusioned and leaves. Those young workers who are leaving are most likely more qualified and better educated than ever, because the job market is highly competitive.  So, why drive them away?

It’s not re-training we need.  It seems the economy is driving people to take jobs for which they are more than qualified.  You can’t change the job to suit, but you can maintain the positive attitude of that the person by not making the job the dreary substitute they fear, but rather the dream job they could have some day.  

How do you do that?

There is a honeymoon phase for new hires, then the reality of the workplace sinks in; over time workers become disillusioned… But, only if the workplace isn’t a positive place to be every day.  From my own experience and research, in general, most younger workers are happy at the start of employment.  I’ve heard there are a few places where workers are happy for life, but maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration.  If there are these “dream” jobs, then there is a solution to the problem.  That solution is…..quality training programs.

If you look at an organization where anyone you talk to seems to have been so happy the entire time they worked there, you’ll find it most likely has to do with the company’s exemplary training programs.  They kept training these employees, starting with the young people from day one, for newer and better things.  As long as they did, these employees were extremely happy with the company.  

As an example, working for Ben and Jerry’s, Disney, Pixar (owned by Disney now), or another company with positive name recognition is rewarding enough; it doesn’t matter what job you had.  Training is a highly integrated and important piece of these companies.  Everyone wants to work in a place that cares about people. These are businesses like any other, and they regard the bottom line as seriously as the next company.   To outsiders, it is just a public relations ploy, but from what I have heard, actual employees believe these are dream jobs for precisely the reasons I have named.  The difference is, these companies seem to revere the enthusiasm of youth and transfer it to their product.   In fact, the company standards are quite exacting and demanding–so it’s not easy to work for them, quote the old timers. “But it’s worth it,” they add.

The more complicated question is how do we make it last longer? We need to look at what affirms and rewards passion and fresh ideas. Providing the training necessary for an employee to develop is an important part of that. Young workers in these dream companies are trained early and continually trained to provide a consistent product or service. It’s not a money thing either. These workers are not extremely well-paid, but they are treated like family. The level of training they have had is even adorning the clothes they wear.  Buttons, certificates, badges and patches proudly proclaiming their level of expertise. So, training is infinitely important.

Young people, as a rule are a more positive lot.  They aren’t as cynical and dispassionate as their older colleagues, but that is something we face with the innocence of the young.  Children, regardless of their lot in life, try to be happy regardless of circumstances–even the most dire.  Ready with smiles to flash at anyone who affirms them when they have done something right.  Should it be any different with young workers?  For those of us who have been around awhile, reality makes us more careful and thoughtful, which can be thought of as unresponsive to change and new ideas.  We should smile more at all employees, no matter their age, and let them know their passion is appreciated and that their ideas are important – and mean it. We train when we need to train, sometimes when we need to motivate, but most often when we want productivity to go up.

Our minds seem to narrow in response to age, unless we keep exercising our willingness to see the positive attributes of the new.  

This is why constant training to look at the new is important–like training every employee it be CEO is not ridiculous; it’s already being done.  It’s more a matter of attitude with amazing results than intensive training.  And, mentoring, a form of training, and leadership, an example of training, well done is so important.  Mentoring gives them the courage to continue on the path.  Leadership all along the way helps them to learn how to direct that passion and push the new ideas to a positive conclusion–and the realization being theirs if something doesn’t work out as planned.  Business coaching can help management and CEOs frame and pin point their most effective training needs.

This blog started as a look at why young people are happier in their jobs, but we also touched on the need to look at keeping that passion and enthusiasm alive.  

In my opinion, that it is not only possible, but necessary and rewarding and it is happening in many companies!  Make it happen in yours! 

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