Hardware Retailing

JUN 2018

Hardware Retailing magazine is the pre-eminent how-to management magazine for small business owners and managers in the home improvement retailing industry.

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June 2018 | HARDWARE RETAILING 43 Minnick says. "Then there's added benefits, like when you hear stories from young families that have so many memories from years past spent at this store. The Akard family is very involved in helping the community through events like fundraisers and farmers markets, so to have a work family like the one we have here is very important for me." Badger feels his attitude toward motivation is an example of others in his situation and age bracket. He enjoys his work and taking on new tasks, and he isn't afraid to show his lack of experience in a task by asking questions. He's motivated by conquering those early failures and acknowledgement from those he looks up to. He feels generational stereotypes can sometimes play a greater role in the evaluation of younger workers than the actual facts. Acknowledgement of an employee's progress and proficiency should be noticed and commented on, he says. For example, he recently assembled and properly outfitted his first reset of power aisle displays and merchandising structures, a task which was thought to be beyond his experience level at the time. If his manager hadn't taken the time to impress on him how much his work was appreciated, he would have been discouraged. Badger sees his drive to take on new challenges as a benefit of working with people of his generation who are often not hindered by a fear of roadblocks or stumbles in the workplace. "I'm not afraid to fail. I see the advantage of it, because it means I'm learning something," Badger says. "I know my generation gets a bad rap. People think we're lazy and we're entitled. That motivates me to push back on those stereotypes, to be better than what others will assume when they see a young person in a job like ours. But if I show how wrong the stereotype is and it doesn't change anything? It makes it harder to still hold that attitude." What Discourages a Generation Motivation is a two-way street with traffic that never stops. On top of managing the constant fluctuations in employee moods and attitudes, retailers must also recognize that not every employee is in the same motivational lane. The same actions that can set up one generation for success can stifle another or cause resentment among employees. One example that multiple roundtable participants cited as a difficult hole to thread was the possibility of mentorship and passing on skills from experienced employees to younger, less experienced co-workers. In her role as office manager at Fishers Do it Center, Ashley has seen the positives and negatives associated with pairing off older employees with younger ones. If the fit is right, with an older employee eager to share their accumulation of skills with a receptive partner, it can be a match that will drive a store to new heights and serve as an example for other employees, she says. However, not all employees are looking for this kind of relationship. Ashley has seen examples of older employees who have little patience for teaching, while Maffei will often see younger Akard True Value employees drift off as she is demonstrating skills like pipe fitting or tool selection to a customer. Both sides of this dynamic can have motivations that lean away from collaborating with co-workers, so retailers would do well to evaluate the attitudes of employees before instituting cooperative training programs like mentorships. As the office manager at Fishers Do it Center, Michelle Ashley has worked with a wide array of age groups in her 19 years of retail experience.

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