When it comes to millennials, many precision dealers are unsure of how to work with this generation. Nearly half of the dealers in this roundtable group discussing this topic at the 2019 Precision Farming Dealer Summit identified themselves as millennials, which led to an interesting conversation that took the perspective of older and younger generations into account.
The biggest problem most dealers face with millennials is figuring out where the line is between managing and mentoring. “Drive [among millennials] isn’t the biggest problem; it’s how the work is done,” noted one dealer. “It’s just a different mindset.”
The majority of the dealers, regardless of age, noted that the greatest initial challenge with millennials is getting them to actually work. Dealers find themselves struggling to get this generation working the needed hours. Millennials have shown themselves to work well within an 8-5 schedule, but can take issue working extra hours and weekends.
A couple of dealers felt that getting millennials to work was not the main issue — it was the feeling that they should be paid more. One dealer mentioned that after giving a millennial employee a $12,000 raise at the end of the year, the employee said it was not enough.
Although it may appear that millennials are focused solely on what they’re earning, others say there are other motivating factors. “Money may drive some of them but, if so, it’s only for a period of time,” says Gary Mach, Lone Star Agronomics. “Money gets them there and it’s the flexibility and lifestyle that keeps them.”
One common trait that stands out to experienced precision dealers is how often millennials seem to need to call them or walk into their offices. This is something that members of the previous generations did not do, with most dealers noting that they do not hear from those employees as much. Over time, many realized that millennial employees are not reaching out to see how they’re doing; it is just to check-in.
“When you first start, all the information you are getting is like trying to drink out of a firehose,” says one dealer who identified as a millennial. “It’s hard to keep up with what you are supposed to understand and if you’re meeting expectations. No one is telling us, so we go and ask.” The consensus of the millennial dealers as a whole is that they want to be an asset to the company and strive to be productive. Although they are concerned with the need to make a living, they are also concerned about whether or not they are valued by the company.
There are a few things that dealers have found that work in motivating millennials and keeping them with the dealership, specifically, communicating and implementing a career path. Communication is paramount to all aspects of a dealership, not just in managing millennials.
The career path is important to showing millennials that they are not stuck in the position they start in. It allows them to see the steps and timeframe for moving up in the company.
While there may be a general attitude attributed to millennials, each individual has their own attitude and personality, formed from how and where individuals are raised.
Ultimately, dealers have found that it is less of a generational or millennial issue and more of a personality issue.