Contractors Learn the Future in Boston
Nexstar CEO Challenges Attendees to Consider the Industry’s Next Decade
BOSTON — Nexstar Network contractors headed to Boston recently to be a part of the “Building Your Dream Team Workshop” spring meeting series.
For those who arrived in Boston a little early, the Nexstar Legacy Foundation held a fundraiser at Fenway Park. In addition to a tour of the old ballpark and a few cuts in the batting cage, attending contractors learned about the foundation and its mission to recruit more qualified technicians to the industry.
The meeting itself kicked off with a presentation by Michael Rogers, who referred to himself as the practical futurist. Rogers discussed current trends and also helped contractors think about the future.
“Things change quickly. In 2006, there was no iPhone, people did not think YouTube would work, and only college students could join Facebook. That was less than 10 years ago,” Rogers said.
In 2014, the iPhone is moving into its sixth generation, YouTube uploads 60 hours of video every 30 seconds, and Facebook hosts 1.2 billion members. He told contractors to keep that in mind when thinking about what the world and industry will be like in 10 years.
Rogers referred to a recent study by Oxford University that stated 40 percent of all the jobs in the U.S. will be automated by either robots or smart software by 2025. Jobs that could not be automated included jobs that require physical dexterity, creative problem solving, and communication skills.
This, of course, would include the HVAC industry. “That is part of the story you can tell in your communities,” Rogers said. “The other two parts is that these are jobs that are increasingly going to be using high technology, and these are jobs that will help save the planet. You do not just tell this to recruits but to everyone who influences young people who are looking at their future.”
This is an important story to tell, as many kids are being led down the wrong path. Rogers said many people are concerned about it. “We are turning out more and more kids with four-year college degrees and $80,000 in debt, and they end up working at Starbucks because they have been trained for white-collar jobs that no longer exist,” Rogers said. “This is something both technology and public policy people are really worried about. There is a good chance by the early 2020s we will have a significant section of unemployed young people because we have automated a lot of entry-level jobs. Your jobs cannot be automated. Your jobs cannot be sent overseas.”
Jack Tester presented next on defining the type of employee small businessmen should be seeking. The Nexstar president and CEO explained to contractors that employees bring personal traits, habits, and items they have learned prior to joining your business.
“They also bring values and behaviors from prior employers. These could be at odds with your values and traits. Part of the job in defining the type of employee you want is to define what kind of culture you want in your business. This will help us determine the type of employees we need to fit that culture versus letting our employees decide that,” Tester said.
Tester believes it is important to understand what the definition of culture is when talking about a business. While the word is used a lot, he is not sure if contractors really think about the definition. Tester believes culture is a way of thinking, working, or behaving that exists in a place of business. A business’s culture is the definition of the collective behaviors of everyone in the company.
Contractors need to make sure the culture is by design and does not just occur organically. The question is, “How do you produce a great culture?”
“The culture of your business has its most influence from you as the owner,” Tester said. “In your business, people usually see you every day. Your culture cannot be in opposition to how you behave. You can’t say you want a fun business if you are a sour person. We want to make sure it is something you can pull off because you have to live it every day.”
Tester referenced Southwest Airlines and how they are seen as the fun airline. This did not happen just by chance, but rather was crafted by Southwest Airlines founder Herb Kelleher. He was a walking embodiment of the culture. He was a fun and noncorporate guy. That is how the airline was able to create that culture. It is not something an advertising campaign could accomplish.
Last year, Southwest announced an opening for 700 flight attendants. More than 15,000 applications arrived in less than two hours.
“You can’t completely change people, but you can shape them. Employees just want to know what shape they should take. Oftentimes, we leave it to chance. We should not do that,” Tester said.
Tester recommended identifying your value words that are important to you and build them into phrases that you can hang up around the office. Nexstar came up with phrases such as “Bad News Early, Good News Often.”
“At a minimum, post the values,” Tester said. “Also, at every company meeting, talk about a value and how an employee has shown that value in a behavior. And hire to these values. These values should be built into your interviewing process. And make sure the new employees are taught what the core values are.”
In other sessions, Jodi Peters explained the results of Nexstar’s Employee Engagement survey, Ed Cerier talked about guerrilla marketing, and Julian Scadden discussed retaining employees.
The Nexstar Network previously held spring meetings this year in Phoenix and Chicago. For more information on the Nexstar Network’s spring meetings, visit http://nexstarnetwork.com/
Publication date: 6/9/2014