I have been more than amused by the press given to Millennials lately – thanks Talia/Yelp – and it got me thinking about how I first encountered Jive in the age of Millennials (I’ll shorthand to Mil’s), and how it won me rave reviews from my Mil coworkers and mostly panned by my fellow Boomers.
US Census Stats for 2015 tell us that Millennials (born 1982 to 2000) have become the largest workforce, usurping the last major group, Baby Boomers (born 1946 to 1964). For Boomers like me, the population shift has meant accompanying paradigm shifts in the way business gets done. From a knowledge workers perspective;
- work place: office, to cubicle farm, to flex-office, to home, to ‘wherever/whenever/however’
- work language: grind stone/9-5, to work-life balance, to opt-in hours.
- work platform: mainframe, to client-server, to PC, to laptop, to mobile/BYOD (and the associated shrinkage of the screen).
- work uniform: shirt and tie, to slacks and collar, to anything with a collar, to flops and shorts.
- work communication: break-room board, to inter-office envelope, to email, email, email, and dammit, more email.
- work collaboration: lock drawers/closed offices, to cube buddies, to team space, to project intranet.
Focusing on Collaboration. As a group, my generation was less apt to share, especially in the sales ranks. Progress with a ‘deal’ was only shared with senior management and even then, only those with a need to know. Like a dark family secret, customer deals were never discussed with the guy in the next cube, much less the rest of the company. Even a cloud CRM solution like Salesforce caters to this sharing-phobia - with layers of security and visibility that dictate what you see by your title and associated access.
Enter Mil's, who are not only sharing family secrets, they are live-tweeting family shouting matches and posting selfies with the burning house in the background. Sharing is not a question of “if” but by what means. A ‘closely held secret’ is something you only share with friends and friends of friends. As the commercial says, over-sharing.
In the workforce, this philosophy comes in direct conflict with everything the Boomers were taught.
For all its other promoted benefits (less inbox-trapped knowledge, traceable discussions, social web, etc), Jive offers the ability to connect across departments and time-zones that gave me something to promote within the E-staff. But the A-HA! moment came when I saw Jive as a way to help me build the needed bridges between an older, Boomer-aged sales team with the younger, over-sharing Mil’s in marketing, ops, and development. The social aspect quickly hooked the Mil’s without any encouragement from upper management. As a matter of fact, the original implementation was meant for sales only. Marketing demanded to be part of the beta test, then R&D caught word, and it caught fire from there. But how to capture my fellow Boomers?
My own research showed that the quickest adopters (as ranked by points) were Mil’s in Marketing, R&D, and Sales Ops. Other early adopters were the GenX’s that made up the ranks of our SE crew. Lagging were the Boomers in Sales.
As anyone who has ever put a new environment in play can testify, Boomer’s stubbornness can teach Mil’s entitlement a thing or two about attitude. Sorry fellow Boomers, we get a 'D' in flexibility.
I’ve already written about the Water Cooler aspect of Jive (stole that idea directly from The specified item was not found. training) and how it aided the discussion of coworkers in far-flung offices and territories. In addition, one of the more trafficked areas was the Competitive Stories Group. The story telling was as compelling as it was hilarious. This communal sharing provided the baby steps I needed to show the value of Jive to my Boomer Salesguys. An added bonus was the positive feedback given by Mil’s to their wiser counterparts. This was the budding “community” I was desperate to create.
The construction phase of this cultural bridge starts when that Sales Boomer shares an insight that is reciprocated and encouraged by the Mil’s. The concept of Community becomes reality when we get daily BIDIRECTIONAL connections across the Great Divide – a constant widening of the bridge as the team (formal and ad-hoc) begin and end every sales effort and new campaign on the Jive platform.
Jive will never build a community within a company, no more than PowerPoint will create a winning corporate pitch. However, Jive provides the common infrastructure where a community can be formed and fostered. It’s the difference between a couple of planks over a stream and a large suspension bridge across the Bay. Unlike your favorite bridge in the BA, the employees are not just users/commuters, but are also building, expanding, and enhancing this hypothetical span. Try that with Outlook!
The enlightened Boomer in the corner office is looking for the future of corporate communications. Most know it has something to do with a Social Enterprise Platform. They also know that Community is no longer something that just happens to the lucky few. It has to move to the realm of science – something repeatable, observable, and measureable. And that exec is looking for a guide in this unchartered sea.
Mil’s need to take this opportunity to encourage and participate in this next technology wave. Like the elder Boomer who took a chance on email when I was starting out, Mil’s need to make sure that this social platform is not just a tool for the terminally hip, but also the hip-replacement crowd.
I’ll use this forum to call out my millennial brothers and sisters to bring everyone along. Keep the bidirectional nature of this bridge flowing and help get your Boomer coworker past their skepticism and part of the move to the next big thing. I'll do my part to help my seasoned compadres see the benefit of sharing their experience and knowledge - and help fight the tendency to email a response (Jive Outlook plugin notwithstanding).
Building that bridge is the critical component in the making of the Next Great Company. If you are reading this and part of this Jive Community, you are well on your way.