We all know the exercise. For some, we first saw it when it came time to program the VCR (remember them?) For others, it was using the cell phone. And for still others, it was loading and using the iPod they got for their birthday. To whom did we turn to help us (or better yet, do it for us?)The younger generations have long been helping and teaching their elders when it comes to using the latest electronic and technological devices. And that practice continues to this day in very basic ways. For example, few days go by when I don’t ask my Gen X and Y colleagues about how to use some program or network we use in our daily business life. And I am sure I am not alone. So learning from our younger colleagues is hardly a new or novel phenomenon.
However, I am convinced those of us further along the demographic curve can do much, much more when it comes to hiring and developing new employees. Of course we should continue to incorporate the usual cultural assimilation activities and provide the necessary industry and product information to newly hired employees. But we should also make a concerted, formalized effort to learn as much as we can from them.
The obvious input they can have regards technology. Specifically, learn how responsive your web site is to their needs. What are their opinions for improvements? But that is not all. If you are not taking advantage of and using social networking media and/or other newer outlets to talk about your institution you are missing opportunities. Tapping your younger employees for information can support your institution in staying relevant to today’s younger market segments.
Your younger employees can be valuable resources to help you reach out and attract their peers. These are tomorrow’s customers. Find out what their outside/community interests are and how your institution can participate and align with these organizations/causes. Put them in positions of visibility where their peers may be able to relate to them. Most of all, listen to them. You’ll be surprised what you will learn.