In the Know is a monthly partnership between LP Gas magazine and Propane Resources. Our focus this month is on employees, addressed by Tamera Kovacs, financial consultant and industry expert in business valuations and sales for Propane Resources.
Q: What unique skills and talents do today’s young leaders offer that can benefit their companies and the propane industry?
A: Technology implementation, creative marketing, new business ideas and high energy are just some skills millennials can bring to your company. Respect and a great work ethic are a couple of characteristic traits of this generation.
The older generations will be challenged with understanding this new generation’s work habits, what motivates them and how to communicate with them. The real challenge lies with older and younger generations remaining open-minded and constantly communicating with one another.
The millennials will force many of the older generations to do things they probably should have been doing for years. Millennials want to understand the vision and scope of a project, why it is important and how it impacts goals. They also want feedback, forcing the older generations to communicate more often.
I attended the Minnesota Propane Association’s annual meeting and convention and had the opportunity to hear the presentation “Hiring Millennials” by Stephanie Hennen, a millennial from South Dakota State University who has interned in the propane industry, so she speaks with firsthand knowledge. She focused on communicating with, motivating and developing millennials. There were also some interesting questions from the audience:
Question #1: Why don’t millennials answer a phone call but will immediately send a text?
Hennen said, “We are afraid of answering the phone because we are not sure what you want. Why don’t you text us, saying you are going to call to talk about ‘ABC,’ and please answer your phone.”
Question #2: Many millennials are focusing on four-year degrees, and many of the needs in our industry are for drivers, requiring the individual to pull a hose 100 or more feet. Are millennials willing to perform these types of jobs?
Hennen said she focused on education for most of her life, but she believes many millennials would have an interest in these types of jobs, especially in rural communities. She suggests business owners recruit students at trade schools, junior colleges and even high schools.
A propane marketer added, “Individuals cannot get their hazmat certification until they are 21. It would be up to us to put them in other areas of the company where they can learn the industry and the business so when they turn 21 they have some industry experience.”
Imagine employees having a couple of years working in the office before delivering propane. That would be amazing cross training, and they would develop a great amount of respect and appreciation for the work performed by the staff.
I have had the opportunity to work closely with millennials, and it has been exciting and rewarding. Their passion, energy and dedication are contagious, and they are fun. The retail propane industry has some exciting times ahead with millennials joining the workforce.
Tamera Kovacs is a financial consultant and industry expert in business valuations and sales with Propane Resources. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 913-262-0196.