customers, innovation, Leadership, Social Media

The IPad Exception: 15+ Experience Need Not Apply

generation conflict at work comic

What Happened to the Value of Experience?

Awesomeness. Excitement. The magic of selfies. Does that make you think of the youngest guy on your team?

Relevance. Research. The magic of taking notes in a spiral-bound notebookDoes that make you think of the oldest guy on your team?

It isn’t Them vs. US.  It’s all about speed and value and it’s going to make a difference at some point. This point in time actually.

Now I can just see the eyes rolling back when anyone under 35  reads the headline. Even before all this wonderful technology invaded the workplace, younger workers were rolling their eyes back at the word “experience”.  It’s what youth does. They are workers who give wings to ideas and passion and force the work environment to move forward at a greater speed. That is progress.

What is missing today is a coordinated plan to value those with  15+ years of experience.

They are not “outdated” in the value they can offer, even if they don’t have a profile photo and aren’t  on Snapchat. In fact, if anyone under 35 would take a moment of interest in what that 15+ person thinks then perhaps you could offer to mentor them in the value of texting while they could mentor you with a few tricks on how to get ahead.

You see it isn’t that both generations don’t have much to teach other, it is that the workplace is so focused on optimization: salaries and office politics.   I see that co-working  environments have removed the cubicles but they also revealed the ugly truth about mentoring: mostly that there is none anymore.

Oh, it’s in the job descriptions. “Can mentor younger team member”, but when it asks for 3-5 years experience for a “senior” job position how is that an age when one can be a senior member who mentors?

Our lifeline of technology has overshadowed the importance of knowledge and experience.  We value new and shiny as a workforce and have completely turned the reins of “business” over to the gadget gurus.  Oh, we need gadget gurus, but we need a voice of one or two understands the value of time. There must be a balance, a bridge between the two!

Today, we are celebrating the 5-year anniversary of the IPad as if it were the answer to global warming. Everyone is happy and shocked at the five years because, well, what technology last five years?

We give the IPad and exception. People, on the other hand, well that is not the same value we have on people.

The younger Steve Jobs offered us so much as a society and a workforce, but aging the Steve Jobs, the one we lost, is missed for his confidence and long-term vision. His cockiness was tempered by his complete confidence in the value of his people to bring beauty and utility into our lives. For him, his age and experience brought us the ability to be new but also incorporate core principles and experience.

Look across your cubicle at the oldest and the youngest member of your team and stop seeing dollar signs and health-benefit calculations.  Isn’t it time we fostered a workplace where both sides began to listen to each other?

Embracing technology is merely about being heard and valued for the older workforce. It is shoved in their face by the newest employees who immediately discard their value because they don’t text or have an Instagram account.

Is that what will change your business–everyone having an Instagram account?

Or would it be that side-by- side, the ones with a longer-term vision and the ones with a short-range technology passion start to listen to each other and share their own unique knowledge?

Perhaps if the 15+ employee wasn’t in fear of being fired in our “at-will” workforce and replaced by a lower salary in the 5+ category, there would be more sharing of core strengths. Just as the 3-5 employee wouldn’t feel the need to roll their eyes to management in an effort to be valued for something they know so much about.  Both sides equal value to a company. And it would be a whole lot easier if management began to value the combination of youth and experience and not just the visual appearances of technological trends.

What we hate about Gen Y is their brashness and disconnection. And what we hate about the aging Gen Xers is their stubbornness and disconnection.

The insight here is that they are both disconnected from each other. 

That is a management problem.
That is a mission statement problem.
That is a company culture that forgot why it does what it does problem.

Valuing employees shouldn’t be generational.

It should be focused on the value of their creative union.  Some bring “awesomeness and energy” and some bring ” realism and practicality”.

That is what wisdom is.  And that is what we all miss about Steve jobs…. his phenomenal, 15++ wisdom.

When was the last time you were asked to mentor someone?  Is there a mentoring program at your workplace?  Can you share how it works?

Maria Bereket is a Social Media Stress Reliever! She is a Social Media Trainer & Small Business Strategist who helps busy professionals and educators feel stress-free when setting up their social media profiles and marketing programs. And if you are curious, she is an Aging Gen-Xer with the heart and soul of Gen Y! Design Bear Marketing is her Social Media & Design Company. @mbear88

Source of photos: Dave Simons, The Economist; and Time Magazine.

Originally Posted on LinkedIn:

business, customers

Are You Forcing Customers to Quit?

business man and woman at desk sign quiet on phone

Here are some interesting numbers that I came across this morning:

Why Customers Quit:

  • 1% die.
  • 3% move away.
  • 5% develop new friendships.
  • 9% for competitive reasons.
  • 14% product dissatisfaction.
  • 68% quit because of an attitude of indifference toward the customer by some employee.

I know that this is true because I have been one of those customers–many, too many times–in almost every area of my life.

Restaurant: Friday night I sat in a restaurant with good friends laughing and talking and waiting for our food. 30 minutes after ordering I began to notice that there was no waitstaff to be found anywhere. I assumed it was a back in the kitchen, and when I got up to find someone, and it took a minute or two, the waitress came out and went over to the table behind me–the only person with food!

There was a flurry of activity after that. The manager came out to deliver meals, discovered that one order was put in wrong. He asked me if everything was alright and I told him our experience and that his waitress needing some re-training. He took care of the meal and made us feel better, but the young lady never came back until our bill was paid, and she straining to apologize for the mess up on the meal–not her avoidance of us. My friends left a horrible review on Yelp.

Medical: Visiting my father in Rehab following surgery, we asked to see the nurse discuss medicine changes. Two hours later as we were walking out, she was defensive about her schedule and inability to see us, jotted down our number and said she would call later. At 11 pm, we called them and the nurse on duty told us that “When we called she was supposed to help us.” Sadly she said she was new and didn’t have much information. The next day I asked to see the nurse again (same day nurse) she remembered me and said she would be in. Nowhere to be found after 45 minutes later, I went to the supervisor on duty. She came and was immediately defensive about what I was saying. She told me the nurse last night was “wrong and that what she meant to say was she was off duty for a week” (hmmm, how did she know that?) and then defended the day nurse, told us too much about the weekend staff and left. Our concern is dealt with as “complaints” and there is a terrible awkwardness to the relationship now.

Childcare: I spoke with a woman from one of my trainings last week who told me that she moved her child from a preschool recently because the teacher in the classroom was always telling her how busy she was, how little she knew about what was going on in the center, and recently her attitude that she (the parent) was taking up too much of her time. The parent tried to stay positive, complained a few times, but decided that if her child’s teacher was always too busy to know anything or help, then she needed to put her child in a safer environment.

All three are employees who are perceived as “not caring” and much too “distracted” to be serving customers. Looking closer they are all empathy issues, with a strong touch of “lack of training”—leading to the destruction of the relationship.

What is the purpose of our work? We are all here to serve customers. We all have them–every single person who works has customers. Yet we forget that without those people who pay money for our services and products, there would be no job in the first place.

So what needs to be done?

First, there is a huge gap in training these days. People are put on the floor, at their desk, in front of customers without the proper training and understanding of the company mission and values. How can anyone do a proper job if they don’t know what that job fully entails? My waitress didn’t know how to deal with the kitchen, nor did the other wait staff, so management is cutting back on something key here–train and teach your people their job! The preschool teacher and the nurse supervisor are both fighting the same battle: Their stress and overwork make them oblivious to their customers needs. They are so involved in their issues that they cannot understand what the customer feels.

Secondly, with budgets so tight, someone needs to sit down and figure out that losing customers costs more in the long run than training staff. Empathy is key. Knowing what the customer is feeling and needing is the first step to responding. Knowing your job. Here is a great video that can help us all to remember that our customers are living their own lives (

In the meantime, sit down with your team and ask them to put on their customers shoes for a moment. Write out what they are thinking, dealing with, and how they got to be in your business in the first place. What would they say? How do they feel?

Now step back and see if you are responding to them, or just pushing your own expertise or stress back as an excuse for not being kind and serving them.

I would love to know what exercises you use to train your staff in empathy. Are you talking about it? What are you saying?

Maria Bereket is a Social Media Stress Reliever! She is a Trainer, Designer & Small Business Strategist who helps busy professionals, business owners, and educators feel stress-free when setting up their social media profiles and marketing programs. Design Bear Marketing is her Social Media & Design Company. @mbear88

Source: Fotolia