“Millennials expect more from management teams and require more support in the workplace than any other generation.” January 29th, 2016, HR Review
Take a few moments to ponder the above research findings regarding the emerging Millennial workforce . . . your Millennial workforce.
As a Boomer, does it resonate with you?
As a Generation Xer, does it surprise you? Especially since – at least according to one article – you have little patience and time to cater to what has at times been referred to as millennial “neediness.”
However, is the constant reliance of Millennials on “detailed targets” and “regular progress meetings in order to stay motivated,” a bad thing?
The majority of bosses, regardless of generation, who participated in the research above, agreed “these demands for support indicated that Millennials are highly career driven.”
Unfortunately, and as reported in a Harvard Business Review Poll, senior managers, coaches and mentors more often than not, felt that they did not have the cycles to manage Millennial needs and expectations.
The consequences for not being able meet these needs, is that Millennials are more likely to look for ways to grow outside of your company if they can’t find the support within it.
This being the case, it would make sense to cultivate that motivation to create the next generation of corporate high performers. Especially since it is “difficult to find and retain these (Millennial) workers.”
Now That You Know What You Know . . .
Based on the above referenced research comparing generations, Baby Boomers, Generation X, Millennials and Generation Z, Millennials came out “on top as the most demanding set of employees.”
So now that you know what you know, what can you do with a generation of workers who require “the most guidance and support from managers?” How are you developing your Millennials to stay engaged, motivated and challenged?
I believe that organizations that lead and grow the talent of their young professionals will immediately give themselves a competitive advantage. Coincidentally, in the last 18 months, many of my Fortune 500 clients have been requesting workshops from my customized Millennial workshop series. Topics being covered range from Executive Presence to social intelligence to navigating the political landscape.
Based on the above, I’ve focused this month’s eNewsletter on research from the insights and interviews I have conducted with Millennials, to address strategies on how to effectively engage them for mutual benefit.
I’ll share my perspectives for bridging the communication gaps and for tapping into the true power of the “Millennial Mystique”. In the process, you will get an amazing glimpse into the minds of a generation that will, in the not too distant future, account for 74% of the entire workforce.
Here are essential tips for harnessing both the individual and collective energy of a generation that is career driven, and highly incentivised by reward and praise.
1. Recognize That Knowledge Is Confidence
We all know the saying “knowledge is power.”
In answering the question “What scenarios cause you to be less effective or persuasive?” respondents to a recent Usheroff Institute Millennial survey almost unanimously indicated that a “lack of knowledge” or “being educated” on the subject being discussed, was the most pressing of their concerns.
Millennials likely feel this lack of knowledge more acutely because they are almost always pushing ahead towards the next goal. In other words, it’s not their desire for knowledge that is a problem; it’s their desire to have all of the knowledge NOW, which is the cause of their impatience and worry.
So how do you help your Millennials to find the proper balance between their thirst for knowledge and, the reality that true insight and expertise takes time?
Follow these simple tips:
- Help them to adopt a Rome wasn’t built in a day mindset. Emphasize that great things take time, and are the result of consistent and diligent effort.
- Leverage the Millennial need for having established detailed targets and progress meetings, by creating a solid personal development plan . . . then stick to it.
- Set aside a specific time to meet on a (bi)weekly basis to address their concerns and successes relative to their job requirements and performance. The meetings should be 15 to 30 minutes at most.
- Share your wisdom in the form of storytelling, not corporate speak.
- Share the “why” of your ideas to provide substance and understanding.
2. Empower Millennials; Don’t Micromanage Them
Given their limited corporate experience, there is a natural inclination to assume that Millennials need to follow the protocol and mindset of seasoned professionals.
As confirmed in the Usheroff Institute Millennial survey, respondents expressed a strong need to feel free to express themselves and to explore different ways of doing things. For them, it’s not so much a need for power but more for the opportunity to have a voice to share their perspectives.
The following tips will help you to effectively merge experience with the Millennial desire for creative independent thinking:
- Step back and allow Millennials to find their purpose within the job.
- Share concepts, strategies and ideas but give them ample time to process on their own.
- Express appreciation for their fresh perspective and where possible, publicly acknowledge their contributions.
- When they mess up, make it a learning lesson for them.
- Finally, empower their self-reliance. Challenge them to perform unconventional tasks and you’ll quickly recognize their performance capabilities, skills-sets and know-how.
3. Leverage Millennial Networking Know-How
“But as you get into the science of it, word of mouth and influencers are very much a part of all their decision-making process, for every generation. They’re all on social media platforms.” – Samara Anderson
Even though there are different ways and styles of communicating, the one common and enduring factor is the power of word of mouth. Whether that word is delivered via a text, telephone or in a comment stream on Facebook, it is the power to connect and share what matters most.
Here are tips to help you to best guide and leverage Millennial connectivity:
- Beyond coaching sessions and seminars, establish virtual classrooms. According to another Usheroff Institute survey of Millennials, they see on-line interaction – especially involving their peers, as a great way to learn and increase their knowledge. (Note: Sessions should be 90-minutes at most, and be sure to establish a live classroom dialogue!).
- Create on-line social network groups or forums, and encourage meaningful discussion.
- Tap into Millennials comfort in technology by creating venues that can be accessed anytime from anywhere.
- Create an internal resource list of executives from within your organization who are actively involved in social media. These executives can serve as role models to educate Millennials on how to manage their reputation in the virtual world.
4. Establish Their Executive Presence
Millennials are actively looking to gain their footing in the business world but believe that they look too young, or come across as being too inexperienced. You could probably relate to similar feelings – although perhaps not as acutely – when you first started your career.
In the context of the above, one of the questions we asked Millennials in our survey was: “How do you define executive presence?” The common thread or theme of each answer was simply having an ability to effectively handle yourself in a formal/professional setting.
The first step in helping Millennials to develop their executive presence, is to show them how to speak with greater confidence, to be concise and to project credibility.
In this regard, helping them to find the right tempo is especially critical to being an effective communicator. This includes pointing out if they are using unnecessary fillers and jargon such as “so”, “you know”, “and”, “um” & “like”.
Beyond speaking, here are additional tips that will prove useful in terms of establishing the foundation for building Millennial confidence and, ultimately their executive presence:
- Encourage Millennials to find out why they are being invited to meetings so that they can have time to research and come prepared.
- If they are asked a question to which they do not immediately know the answer, tell them not to be be afraid to admit it. Then instruct them to indicate that they know where to get the answer and will get back to the person asking the question within a specified period of time.
- To project greater presence, Millennials should dress professionally, whether in a casual or formal situation.
- Finally, help them to realize that even the most seasoned executive was once young and walked in their shoes. This is important because it creates a sense of mutual understanding and generational connection, as well as highlighting where they themselves will be one day in terms of their own executive presence.
5. The Constancies Of Success
The more things change, the more they stay the same. You have heard that before.
While there are obvious differences between one generation to the next, there are also a great many similarities. Especially with the foundational values or core principles that define success. These remain constant.
As a manager, coach or mentor, your role is to help your Millennial workforce to better understand and adapt their abilities to these constancies, while embracing their unique attributes and goals.
Like the old saying about when you give a man a fish you feed him for a day, teach him to fish, and he feeds himself for a lifetime, you have an opportunity to impact on the future of your organization in similar fashion, by investing in your biggest asset …the Millennials.