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1-1/2 It

“Just give me someone who wants to work”, we heard a manufacturing owner, Tom, say at one of our Manufacturers Regional Roundtables. By the time Tom was finished venting his frustrations in trying to find a younger workforce who wanted to work, had a good work ethic, and understood the opportunity that was in front of them – he was red-faced and heated.

     Perfect. We were off and running with an engaged group of manufacturers in the southeast part of the state. Two hours of sharing, connecting, discussion and barbecue.

     In our many plant tours around the state, we have heard this similar statement time after time. At one plant tour, an operations manager shared that he had hired two “kids” and on their first day, around 2:00 in the afternoon, one of his new hires stretched out his arms, yawned, and said, “Well. I think I’ll call it a day. See you in the morning.”

    The manager said, “I should have been concerned that there were still 3 hours left in the shift, but instead found myself hoping that I would see him the next day.”

     Back to the discussion. Others in the room were in obvious agreement, but maybe not at the same level of heated frustration as Tom.

     I asked Tom what that “first day” looked like for a new hire.

     “They come in, I show them around, make some introductions. This is what we do. This is how we do it.” There was a pause as we all anticipated additional commentary. There wasn’t any more. Tom was finished.

     Everyone in the room, still understanding and sharing the frustrating challenge, was probably thinking the same thing.

     Not wanting to throw a log on Tom’s fire, somewhat fearing that coleslaw might start flying, I asked another question. “How many of you have seen the movie, The Lion King”?

     All hands went up.

     “How many of you have seen, Lion King 1-1/2?” All hands went down.  (Sidenote: not a great movie. Not even a good movie.) 

     Lion King 1-1/2 is the same story of the Lion King told from the meerkat and warthog’s perspective. Same story told from a different perspective. In many cases, a different perspective becomes a different story. A different narrative. Resonating differently.

     Marketing 101: Know Your Audience.

     “Tom. I think you’re going to have to 1-1/2 your narrative,” I shared. Approach it from a different perspective. Tom’s face shifted back to a more natural color.

     The “way we have always done it” isn’t sustainable in the manufacturing process and it certainly doesn’t work with people.

     I read a headline that stated, “Good News. Gen Z’ers Don’t Feel as Entitled. But They Still Need a Hug.” Tom was probably not a hugger. But you could tell the message resonated with him. He had to try a different approach.

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