Gen Z Surprises Us with In-Person Preferences

Gen Z Surprises Us with In-Person Preferences

72% of Gen Z said that they prefer in-person contact. Yes, I said that correctly. Nearly three-quarters of the youngest generation currently entering our workforce, the generation that is arguably the most technologically savvy, the one that we feel is most tied to their devices – yes, three-quarters of that generation said they prefer in-person contact.

However, 36% of managers, over a third of the managers, rated poor communication skills among those young workers. So here we have this huge group of new, budding, excited employees; they’re just entering the workforce and they’re saying, “I want to be in person,” and a third of the managers, they’re saying, “That’s great, but you suck at it. You’re no good, and you don’t know how to communicate.” How is this happening?

Well look, I have, two of my three kids are in Gen Z, but they’re on the younger side. They’re still in high school, they haven’t really entered the workforce yet. But if we think about the timeframe, the timing of the current Gen Z, the ones that are in the workplace, let’s think about where they’ve been. They have been forced into seclusion, forced into technology, forced into communicating through little boxes, through little devices, all text, email – nothing, nothing that requires them to be in person within physical proximity of other human beings.

Majority of their post-high school, their college education, their formal training even, some of them were hired only virtually; they never even met anybody in person. And now, we as a society or organizations are throwing them into a lion’s den essentially. We are taking these individuals who have these amazing hard skills, they’ve reached the GPA, they’ve graduated with this degree, they look amazing on paper. They knew how to get through their interview, and we are saying, fantastic, you’ve got these hard skills. Come in and do this job, but now we’re going to throw you in with people, with other human beings that are actually complex organisms.

They are not machines that when you say 1, 2, 3, it repeats 1, 2, 3.

Human beings, with all of these complex emotions, experiences, and backgrounds, and we’re asking them to do this job within an environment that has so many variables. They are put into an unknown environment, a completely new experience. It is just like a child for the first time going to school, where they didn’t necessarily know how to interact and play with other kids. They’ve been at home playing solo or maybe with one or two siblings, but then we throw them into a community and they had to learn.

We’re asking these essentially children to do the same. Yet most organizations, leaders, or teams haven’t really been prepared to think about this skill gap, and it is specifically a soft skill of communication. And communication is the cornerstone for organizational results. So there is an opportunity, a pure opportunity for training of these new employees coming in. They just need to be trained on the skills.

Is some of it basic etiquette? Is some of it, how to have eye contact, how to have small talk, how to ask questions, how to listen properly? Yes, absolutely! Some of it may be a little bit more of an elevated level, but what are you offering as a leader, as a team, as an organization, to provide these skills when you’ve got some potentially amazing, amazing Gen Z employees who are rocking those hard skills, and all they need is to have the training to uplevel their communication?

If you’re interested, that’s what we do here at The Corporate Refinery. Message me, let’s talk further. Support the next generation coming into the workforce, you’ve got your superstars right there in front of you!

Creating More Time to Amplify Your Thinking

Creating More Time to Amplify Your Thinking

The CEO of a small company was sharing with me during one of our coaching sessions that she was really struggling to find time for space to create and put together a new strategy, and really step out of her day-to-day business in order to uplevel. I hear this often, not just from business owners but from corporate executives, that they find themselves still kind of inundated with a bit of the minutia and the day-to-day.

Whether that day-to-day is task-oriented or people-oriented, whatever it is, they have a hard time finding time in order to step out and see more of the big picture, see the vision, take their energy and their creativity into that next level – and not only the next level for the team or the business, but even just the next level for themselves, in order for them to grow and to be more of that up-leveled executive or business owner. So, as we continue talking, one of the things that she shared is that she was having a hard time letting go; letting go, in this case, of one specific deliverable that was client-facing.

It was something that she created from the ground up, and what we identified was that part of it was a bit of a comfort zone for her. It was something that she had created, it was part of her daily routine. And so there was this feeling of loss, by thinking about taking it and giving it to someone else. Regardless of if we use the word delegation, I hear this often, “Colleen, I know I need to delegate, I have a hard time or I don’t have time.”

Regardless, one of the key pieces is that many times the thing that is keeping you or other leaders so in the day-to-day is this fear or the feeling of, if I move it I’m literally losing something; I have this loss, I’m getting rid of something that is so comfortable to me. Even though it may be the thing that is kind of irritating because it’s a time suck, or it’s taking too much of your energy, there is this emotional attachment that you may not even be aware of, because you’re thinking about this removal or delegation, the passing of the baton, as a loss – that you are getting rid of something.

So if you’re finding yourself in this space where after true assessment and true reflection you’re thinking, why am I having a hard time passing this off? If there is something that it is like, wow, I never thought about it this way, I never realized that I’m feeling this attachment because it’s just part of me, it’s part of what I’ve been doing maybe for two, three plus years in my role, in my day-to-day, and now I’m feeling this loss.

It’s less of a loss of something and more of an opening or a clearing, to allow for greater things to happen.

For you to uplevel as a leader, you will need to shift, delegate, move things to others, not only to free up space for you to be in more of that next-level thinking, but also to expand the capabilities of the team that’s around you. If you’re the one that is still working in that thing, whatever that thing is, day-to-day, it is limited to what you’ve brought to it. I don’t care how kick-ass that thing is that you’ve created, it is now limited to what you’ve done with it. It now should be moved over to the next individual, to bring their own ideas, innovation, and creativity to it, so that you not only have the space to create other new things, but this is now expanding under your guidance, under your leadership – creating an even greater impact than just thinking about the one thing you wanted to move over and do.

So I encourage you, that if you’re really looking for, how do I have more time, I know I need to delegate, if you’re feeling this fear of loss, think of it more as I’m moving this here to empower this individual, but to also create greater opportunity, something new while I’m also freeing space for me to create new. It’s double, if not 10 times the impact that could be had, versus you hanging on to that one thing.

What will you be doing next? I want to hear, and if you are interested in talking more about this shift and this change and how do we create new, how do we have confidence in that person that we are shifting to, how do we communicate that, how do we move to the next level? Message me, I would love to continue this conversation!

Three Barriers to Effective Communication

Three Barriers to Effective Communication

Look, communication is the cornerstone to get the results that you want. Whether that’s for an entire organization to have streamlined communication across teams and departments, leaders, and individuals, whether that’s to have stellar communication for leaders to mobilize people and the direction that they want to, or whether just you as an employee with another employee, a colleague, a peer, getting them to say yes or no or agree to something – communication is the cornerstone.

Today, I want to share with you three very common barriers that we see when it comes to effective communication. The three things that we see pop up most often that are keeping people from having a truly effective message get out there.

And when I say effective, I mean your message is delivered and it gets people to do what you want them to do.

That’s the essence, so let’s start with the first barrier, which is overcomplicating the message or overcomplicating the communication. While yes, we want to provide details, we want to make sure that there aren’t details that are irrelevant to the topic at hand. All too often, I will be on-site with a team in the middle of training and we’ll be having some debrief or dialogue and I’ll say, “Tell me more.”

The tell me more shouldn’t mean I need to hear the past five years of history of 50 people involved in this, the tell me more really should be, tell me more of the details that are relevant to this point. So as you are crafting your message, whether that’s an email, whether that’s a response to someone, a presentation, really make sure that you are not overcomplicating it; that you’ve got the appropriate details, that you have the right data, the data that creates the most impact without causing confusion or too many data points.

Really keep things from being overly complicated, that is a huge barrier that we see. The second one is when people are too emotional. Now look, there is a time and a place to have emotion that’s meant for inspiring. When there’s energy that needs to be in your message, absolutely. But when the other side of emotion starts to take over, the actual communication is missed. The audience, whether that’s one person you’re speaking to, whoever is listening to this message, they are lost in your emotion, and they’re missing the key to the message.

And it’s so ironic, because just this morning as I was preparing this video, the book that I’m reading, it’s not necessarily about communication it’s about sales, but I want to read this quote to you. The author’s name is Jeb Blount, and he says, “In every sales conversation, the person who exerts the greatest amount of emotional control has the highest probability of getting the outcome they desire.” I would say Jeb hit it on the head, and not just in a sales conversation, it’s in any conversation.

The person who has the greatest emotional control, meaning they’re not letting their jealousy, their frustration, their anxiety, the negative emotions – when they’ve got those under control, they’re going to get the outcome that they desire.

Whichever person has that, that’s going to be the clear winner. So, second barrier being too emotional or emotional on the non-energy, non-enthusiasm side. And the third barrier is purely body language. We get brought in to work with people on presentations, even as little as how they’re holding a microphone, where their eye contact is, how they’re standing, what their posture is. So, our bodies convey a particular message.

And because your audience, again, whether this is just you going in to speak with a senior leader or one of your direct reports, that person, your audience sees you, your body, before most likely they ever hear a word come out of your mouth. So your body language has to be matching what the message is that you’re about to communicate. Your body does not lie, it just doesn’t.

So make sure that your body language is aligned to the message. So that’s the third barrier. Share with us, what is keeping you, what have you heard? Maybe you’ve seen this or you’ve received feedback. What’s a common barrier to effective communication that you’ve seen in the workplace? Comment below, we’d love to hear from you!

Speak Anywhere to Anyone

Speak Anywhere to Anyone

“If you’re going to a funeral, you’re better off being in the casket than giving the eulogy.”

Jerry Seinfeld says this at the beginning of one of his episodes from the 90’s, but he shares this because for the average person, they have a greater fear of public speaking than they do death. And I’m not surprised, with all of the executives and business owners that we coach and train on executive presence and delivering presentations. We hear this all the time, this fear of getting up in front of a group of people. Yet the reality is that you as a corporate executive, as a corporate leader especially, you will be, if you haven’t already been doing so, responsible for delivering presentations in front of groups of people.

That group may be one or two people, or it could be several – but that is part of your role, whether it feels formal, such as delivering it at an all-employee meeting or at a national sales conference, or if it feels informal just at a weekly team meeting, there is a time that you will be presenting information to a group of people – which is technically public speaking. So one of the big fears that we hear most often, or the reasons behind having a fear of public speaking, is just having the confidence, right? Having the confidence to stand in front of a group of people and share your thoughts, share your ideas, your data, your information.

Just feeling like, “Hey, am I doing a good job? Am I showcasing myself in the best way possible?” And so I want to share with you one tip, one very specific, yet extremely impactful tip that will help bolster this confidence and get you a bit over this kind of hump, if you will, of the fear of public speaking, and really create an impact with the presentations that you do. And this one tip is really just one word, and that word is rehearsal.


Now for many of you, you’re sitting here going, “I do not want to rehearse. This is crazy, Colleen. I’m not a public speaker, a formal speaker.” For me, I have to be on stage, that’s part of my business. So you might be thinking, “Rehearsal? I don’t need to do that. I’m giving presentations in our boardroom or in front of these small groups.” Well I hate to break it to you, but rehearsal is the key. Now I get it, I was in sales for 15-plus years, and I remember there was a conversation with senior leaders or a trainer who came in and told us, “Hey, you guys are spending more time on preparing the actual slide presentation, the deck, the PowerPoint deck, you’re spending so much time on these slides, yet you walk in to deliver the information on the slides, and you’ve never gone through it. You’ve spent zero time on the actual presentation.”

And there was this encouragement, this kind of coaching or feedback to actually rehearse. And I remember feeling kind of silly about this, like this is so strange. Yet, when I was selected to be one of the speakers at our company’s national sales conference, I was given a 15-minute window of time. And I knew I was going to be on the main stage in front of my peers, in front of our senior leaders, President, and CEO who would be there. So I scripted and rehearsed and rehearsed and rehearsed. I mean, I rehearsed this 15-minute presentation so many times – but it allowed so that once I was on stage, many (not all, but many) of the fears that I had, a lot of the nerves that I had, really were able to kind of dissipate because I had put in so much of that rehearsal.

So I know not every single time that you’re going to deliver a presentation are you going to put in hours, days, or weeks worth of rehearsal. No. But for the ones that really do matter, where you want to either showcase your level of professionalism or skillset, you know you’ve got a particular audience that this is going to really make a difference, the absolute key is going to be the rehearsal. And the more you rehearse, the greater your confidence will build and the less fear you will have about public speaking.

If you’re interested in speaking to me more about what that looks like, this is what we do! We are working with executives to really uplevel their professionalism, their communication, and executive presence overall, to create an impact for themselves and for the audience that they’re delivering the message to. Again, whether that’s one person in the room or a stadium filled with tens of thousands of people. Comment below and let me know how you work on overcoming your fear of public speaking. Or share with us, what is that fear? Is it not confidence, is it something that we haven’t heard before?

Avoid This Communication Mistake

Avoid This Communication Mistake

We know that effective communication is the cornerstone to driving organizational results. Yet, too often we see leaders make this common mistake. It’s that they make assumptions as to why there’s been a negative outcome. Let me give you some examples, you might be able to relate.

As a leader, maybe all of a sudden your manager or another senior leader has started to become short, curt, or maybe rude to you. And you might have made the assumption that it’s probably because they’re just really stressed out from all the organizational changes, or you assume maybe they’re having problems at home. Maybe you as a leader have been in a meeting where one of your peers interrupts you and starts talking over you and you’ve made the assumption that they’re trying to go for your job. “Oh my gosh, they’re trying to push me out and take that promotion.”

Or maybe you as a leader have had a direct report who’s been missing deadlines, and you make the assumption that they’re really bad at time management or that they’re disengaged, they’re job searching, they’re going to quit soon As human beings, this is almost biological; we have a natural tendency to see something change or some negative outcome, and we want to create that “why” behind it. We need to know why this is happening, it is almost biological.

So it’s not unusual for you to create these theories or these assumptions. However, the mistake is that it is now going to change or cloud how you effectively communicate in the next step. How you might approach your boss, how you might then approach your peer, how you would approach your direct report. In all of these examples, that assumption is completely changing your communication – and it is making it not effective.

First of all, it’s an assumption you’ve made – you don’t even know if it’s true. So you’re potentially taking a next step of how you’re going to communicate based upon completely inaccurate, bad information. But, even if it is true as to why, it really should not affect your preparation and how you’re going to approach and communicate with that person. That next step is driven less about the why, and it’s driven more about what are the facts. What are the facts in front of you that you are going to communicate to that person, in order to come to a mutual agreement?

And more so, especially with your direct reports, allow them to come up with this solution. If you are making assumptions as to why there’s a change in behavior, especially when it’s to the negative, you can no longer be an effective communicator if you are taking that why, that assumption of the why, with you into your next level of communication. We see this all the time, up, down, and sideways.

So I encourage you as a leader to acknowledge, “Look, I just made an assumption,” right? “As a human being, I’m going to make that assumption.” But leave that, table that, put that here, and then take your next steps for the communication for how you’re going to approach it and resolve it with this separately.

And state, prepare, and base this communication solely on the facts of what you know. I’d love to hear from you below, have you been in a bind where you’ve made this assumption and you’ve communicated and it hasn’t worked out in your favor? Or you’ve seen others do it, or you have a tip on how to get past that assumption or that why? We’d love to hear from you, comment below!