Search by keywords:
Search resources by: Competency
Content Format


Not a member? Sample unlocked content here.

Sales Strategy
What Does It Take For Successful Millennials In Retail?
Mar 7, 2016 | Bob Phibbs lock

In the Wall Street Journal article, What’s Wrong With the Teenage Mind? Alison Gopnik takes an in-depth look at two trends affecting the maturation of teenagers.

She has found puberty is starting earlier and earlier, and that teenagers are taking on adult roles later and later.

She says in part, “In the past, to become a good gatherer or hunter, cook or caregiver, you would actually practice gathering, hunting, cooking and taking care of children all through middle childhood and early adolescence.

But you'd do all that under expert adult supervision and in the protected world of childhood, where you would have experienced the effect of your unavoidable failures and learned from them.”

When the motivational juice of puberty arrived, you'd be ready to go after the real rewards, in the world outside, with new force and enthusiasm, but you'd also have learned the skill and control to do it efficiently and rationally safely.

She goes on to say that even the basic skills children would have learned while supervised by an adult regarding cooking, care-giving, and the accompanying jobs like baby-sitting and having a paper route have vanished.

Consider her statement that for “most of our history, children have started their internships when they were seven, not 27.”

Failure to Launch

Researchers now know that experience shapes the brain, and they are finding Millennials’ brains haven't been properly educated and trained.

Children today are very intelligent but because they have been raised by a generation of parents providing instant gratification for their every want and need, their correlation to life experience in the outside world isn't there. For example....

- They might have a lot of sexual education but still get pregnant.

- They might know all the driving rules but still get in accidents.

- They might know all about the chemical properties of food, but that doesn't help them 
make a soufflé.

Children today can’t differentiate unexceptional from brilliant, because this generation has been raised to believe that as long as they do the work - they should get an A. Or got a trophy if they joined a team.

The more we've taken vocational education out of schools, the more crippled teenagers have become as adults.

Mentorship, so common in human evolution, simply isn't being used to show these young minds the ropes.

When we take today’s youth and put them to work in retail we need to realize we need to introduce the training they missed as children to make them successful employees.

What Will It Take?

We need to show them the difference between unexceptional and brilliance and what it takes to stay there.

What we need to hire are children who are trainable and then reward their ability with 
supervision that goes beyond simple task management.

If we call on them to multi-task, we need to train them to be excellent multi-taskers. Your training is only successful if you remember you have to train them in the basic skills they missed before you can train them on more advanced skills and - just as importantly - before they are left on their own.

Again, we have many intelligent young adults, but research is showing they haven’t had the right experiences to shape their brains for success as adults. That's up to us, now more than ever.

As long as retailers can give challenging real-life experiences with a degree of security that comes from engaged supervisors, we can give these young people a path to success, not just a part-time job.

Originally posted on

About the Author

Bob PhibbsSince 1994 companies worldwide have turned to Bob Phibbs, the Retail Doctor® for the proven expertisenecessary to grow their sales. An American retail expert, Phibbs has been engaged as a motivational speaker on retail, a luxury retail sales trainer, author, franchisor and customer service champion. 

He is frequently called on to provide commentary on Marketing and Branding for MSNBC, FOX and others. His clients include some of the largest retail brands in the world including Bernina, Caesars Palace, Chopard, Hunter Douglas, Lego, Omega, Hearts on Fire, Husqvarna, Tommy Bahama, Vera Bradley and Yamaha.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are strictly those of the author. CPSA does not endorse any of the companies, products and services mentioned within this article.


About the author:

Related Resources