Friday July 22, 2016
It seems more often than not, when we talk about the future of the workplace, Millennials are in the spotlight. I should know, I am one.
What’s all the fuss about?
Millennials, those born between 1981-1994, will account for one-third of the adult population by 2020, and 75% of the workforce by 2025 (Brookings). Now more than ever, it’s critical that less time is spent disapproving this generation, and more time spent shining the light on their positive attributes.
Compared to generations before, Millennials are digital natives, with technology engrained in their lives. Their flexible approach to working life, desire to keep learning, and appetite for collaboration, are just some of the attributes beneficial to any organisation.
So how do we adapt to the needs of Millennials in order to harness the best talent?
o Be open
Millennials have been brought up in a transparent world, and are comfortable with openness, collaboration and sharing. They have no qualms using their skills to actively seek out and share knowledge. And this age group therefore expect leadership to understand this and be similarly transparent.
For a generation that has a constant desire for interaction (documenting their every move in their latest Snapchat story), social media and corporate social networks can and should be leveraged to help create a transparent and personal leadership approach.
o Quench their thirst for knowledge
Millennials are renowned for being more impatient than their generational predecessors. Their short attention spans demand faster knowledge gain; a constant desire to learn and develop, both personally and for the betterment of their careers. So if their professional development expectations are not met, they will move on to find an organisation which will. Overcome this by adopting a multitude of low-cost / no-cost learning techniques and encourage individuals to drive their own development.
Use regular reviews and conversations to highlight areas of focus and design individualised development plans which make use of job shadowing, taking the lead on cross-departmental projects, reading and self-study.
o Provide the right leadership
Millennials want to have their voices heard so leaders must be prepared to listen. Organisations should consider defining and embedding ‘leadership principles’ so that people know how leadership works. This will really help since 61% of young people see current operational structures and procedures as barriers to innovation, and 63% feel the biggest barrier to innovation is management attitude (Deloitte). As a result, founder of Bersin by Deloitte – Josh Bersin – suggests that millennials are becoming less committed to a relationship with one manager, instead opting to build networks of people that they can work with, putting more emphasis on their need and desire for collaboration. This suggests there is the opportunity to provide support and guidance via a range of individuals. Leaders should therefore interact with and engage people through a cross-team approach rather than in silos.
Millennials are changing the shape of our organisations and the way we do business. Isn’t it time we step up and adapt to harness the best of their skills?