Remember growing up and listening to your parents or grandparents joke about the kids in your generation? They would say things like “Back in my day” and “You kids and your fancy gadgets.” But as fun as it is to have a good laugh about the differences between generations, it’s also a topic that should be better understood by both sides, especially in business.
A growth industry
The millennial generation enjoys getting involved in industries where they can have fun and express their creativity. And let’s face reality: Life insurance doesn’t exactly have a reputation for being that hip or cool of an industry. It’s seen as your plain-vanilla type of career.
But that may all start to change. A recent Wall Street Journal article noted that the life insurance industry had nearly 500,000 agents in the 1970s, but today the number has declined to about 150,000. This means the industry is poised for growth. The career can be financially rewarding for millennials who have been facing unemployment or low wage jobs.
Bottom line: It’s time to make a life insurance career cool. The good news is if both sides can be more open-minded and listen to each other, they will see they have more in common than they thought. The working relationship can be rewarding for both parties because there’s reciprocal value going both ways. It all starts with respect, which is the cornerstone of making this relationship work.
Put yourself in their shoes
If you have a millennial agent on your team, and there are some issues with your more senior employees, think back to what was on your mind when you were that age. How did you think? Weren’t you a bit rebellious? What did you think of authority? How did you feel about a ‘bossy’ supervisor? Were you always trying to prove a point? Did you think that you knew it all?
You can make a connection with your millennial agents if you engage them at a personal level. What things did you need help with at that age? Your whole life is in front of you but it’s filled with unknowns and anxiety about finances, marriage, temptation, fear, expectations, finding happiness and more. Sometimes just being a good listener is what the millennial is looking for. When you can remember your own insecurities at their age, you can start offering a few words of encouragement.
Communicate in Their Language
We must learn to communicate appropriately with millennials, which is what we do for humans at every life stage. When we hold a baby, we use sounds and one or two words in a soothing and warm tone. When we speak to a five year old, we don’t use complex or sophisticated language. When we speak to older children, we are authoritative. And to seniors, we are respectful.
So when we speak to millennial agents, we must also communicate in their language. And for them, the trick is learning what NOT to say.
Some catch phrases to avoid:
“All this social media is a waste of time. What’s the point?”
“When I was your age …”
“This is the way it’s always been done.”
“You remind me of my kids.”
“How old ARE you?”
In short, avoid conversations that are indirect criticisms of their age. Also, millennials like things fast and have a tendency to not stay focused on any one thing for too long. Try to keep your meetings and communications short and direct.
Implement a Laid Back Workplace