George Ratermann, President of Ratermann Manufacturing, gave a presentation to GAWDA delegates this morning, discussing the trials and tribulations of integrating the young generation into a traditional business.

As an important subject for every company to address in these modern times, he spoke about 18-25 year olds growing up with smart phones. He wanted to share his understanding of the ‘Generation Next’ and how these young persons can excel in the workplace.

He outlined what challenges the young generation faces and how to communicate correctly in a working environment, as well as how to impart ideas to the company and be respected. He also detailed about how to work with older technology and software, like customer relationship management (CRM) systems, for example.

On the topic of communication, Ratermann stressed its importance and addressed the typical problem of when to use the humble telephone before resorting to emails, Skype, Twitter or other social media. The answer from the panel was not unexpected and they unanimously replied “as a last resort.”

An attendee, Jack Butler, asked the panel for advice on how to adopt a more personal approach to communication when most people are consumed by their smart phones. The panel agreed that interaction via email and SMS is a less personal, but by far the fastest, method.

Regarding research and buying decisions, the panel, consisting of Ratermann and young members of his management team, felt that the most successful companies do not market their products but instead promote what the company can offer in service and reliability.

The panel also said that outside sales could potentially be far thinner in the near future but argued that external sales are crucial. They stressed that one way of capturing these sales would be to adapt to the communication tools available for catching information and communicating faster.

The panel also felt that regular feedback, whether either negative or positive, was essential for a young workforce and that it must be regular to maintain a high work ethic, not with long gaps between action and feedback.

The ‘Generation Next’ debate generated such an interest that it nearly overran its time allocation of one hour. gasworld would like to extend its congratulations to Ratermann and his panel on such a fascinating discussion.