So much is written these days about the Millennial generation — those children born in the 80s and 90s. As a father of three of them, I have my own opinion on how they think and in what kind of workplace they thrive.
Rather than explain who or what Millennials are — there’s plenty of information out there on that subject — here’s an outline for how we, collectively, should lead and support this amazing group of future leaders.
Pew research says Millennials are team-oriented, confident, knowledgeable, achieving, feel special, sheltered, conventional, pressured and the list goes on. Most of their parents are Baby Boomers, and they number around 75 million.
In my book, “5 Fundamentals to Unleash Millennial Talent,” I share my leadership journey across three generations — as a Baby Boomer leading my organizations, or supporting Gen Xers stepping into a leadership role or a Millennial finding and establishing his or her career path. I tried to help guide and provide insight for both managing and climbing the corporate ladder.
We need this generation to be the best they can be. We need to support, encourage and unleash this group.
This generation wants and expects to work in a great place, be challenged and feel like they’re making a difference. They want to use their knowledge and work in a team-oriented environments that delivers results which leads to success.
Doesn’t that sound like a wonderful place to work? Of course it does — Millennials are demanding that our companies change both in the private and public sector.
And this is a good thing. Here are a few ideas you can use to help unleash this generation’s talent as leaders.
Culture of Trust
Integrity and compliance start at the top. Companies that have this culture will win customers, suppliers and attract great employees. Sadly distrust is fairly common in todays workplace — VW emissions scandal, the 2008 financial crisis, GM ignition switch and Flint City water system are a few examples.
You must build an environment of trust and transparency. Your actions speak so much louder than words. It is time we changed.
Identify and Grow Talent
Employees today are knowledgeable within their skill discipline. The digital tools for learning have made this possible.
Millennials want to contribute and feel like they are making a difference. Their job responsibility needs to mean something — it must have impact. Get to know your folks, give them big assignments; don’t be afraid of stretching them. Stay close and support them so they will success.
Build Your Team
Engaging your team is critical to success of the organization. Be the coach who is aware of how each person on your team is doing. Tell them they are valued and you want to know their ideas.
Having a personal presence with your team is extremely powerful. Remember, you’re one of the members. All generations want to feel a part of success, great leaders know how to inspire and empower. It’s time for leaders to share the leading with the team.
Diversity is not just checking a box to meet some regulatory criteria. It goes way beyond race and gender; it includes diversity of thought.
I was fortunate to manage thousands of people around the world. People from different backgrounds see the world differently. They bring new innovative ideas.
As a leader you must create a workplace that promotes inclusion and diversity. Millennials are the most diverse group of any generation, thus diversity must be part of your companies DNA.
Listen and Share
Leaders must be transparent and create an open collaborative environment. Have regular updates and give your team as much information as possible, communicate the business objectives and metrics often using all the digital tools.
Keep your door open and make sure it is known up and down the organization. People must feel comfortable approaching you with issues. When people stop coming to you and stop telling you about issues and concerns you have lost their trust.
Bring positive energy everyday. Enjoy and celebrate the small things, while having fun doing it. Recognize and reward people frequently. If you can do it publicly in these settings, it makes it even more impactful. Great leaders know how to energize an organization.
Here are a few takeaways from my book regarding engagement of people no matter what the generation, it’s important to engage with your team. Know them. Grow them. Inspire them. Involve them. And reward them.
It’s all about setting up a great workplace. This generation wants to be challenged, feel like they impact the bottom line. Constantly using their skills in a team oriented environment. Reward, recognize and have fun. They will lead the world to new levels of success.