Over the last year, you’ve likely experienced the beginnings of change within your organization as Millennials begin to play a bigger role. A Gallup study revealed that Millennials are the least engaged generation in the workplace. Many believe this will create low productivity, higher absenteeism, lower customer satisfaction, and reduced long-term profits. It’s easy to see this generation as a “problem.” Instead, resolve to make 2018 the year you’ll embrace this workforce knocking at your door.
The way you mentor and coach Millennials, especially your up-and-coming leaders, will directly impact your business. What can you do differently this year? Instead of agonizing about negative Millennial stereotypes, find ways to strengthen them as leaders in your workforce.
How can you make these changes a reality going forward? As you work on outlining your business strategies for the coming year, focus on understanding the challenges and the strengths Millennial leaders bring to the table. Then be intentional in finding ways to overcome limitations and harness their unique strengths and talents.
While writing, Millennials Matter: Proven Strategies for Building Your Next-Gen Leader, I conducted a survey among business leaders. As a business consultant and parent of three Millennials, I learned that their challenges and yearnings fall under three main categories: character, confidence, and collaboration. It is in these areas you’ll need to focus your attention.
Strengthen Their Character
Our survey findings indicate that 45 percent of business owners, CEOs, and presidents have deep concerns regarding the core character of their millennial employees. Some believe Millennials lack determination and resilience. Others say they are not accountable, seem to think they know everything, and have a disregard for the value of work.
In my experience, this is not true of all Millennial leaders. However, if you do recognize some or all of these negative traits in the Millennial you work with, what can you do about it? This year, make your goal to be an active mentor and guide to the Millennial leader in your life. To help encourage these individuals to become character-based leaders, show them what a healthy leader looks like and acts like. You can do this as you exemplify strong moral character, by exhibiting high ethics and trustworthiness in all your business transactions and in your personal life. Seeing wise leadership in action is critical to their well-being and growth.
Build Their Confidence
This generation seems very knowledgeable, especially since they can answer most questions with a simple Google search. Yale doctoral candidate, Matthew Fisher and his colleagues Mariel Goddu and Frank Keil, have conducted some fascinating research on this topic. Some of their conclusions are published in an article, “The Internet Makes You Think You’re Smarter Than You Are.” The truth is, their confidence can easily be shaken when something goes awry with their google research or they find YouTube didn’t accurately predict.
In your New Year’s resolution, aim to work side by side with them so they develop experiential knowledge, vs. just head knowledge. Millennial leaders must have a realistic level of confidence in who they are. They need to discover their true identities, strengths and perspectives. In a 2012 article, Tim Elmore wrote that one of the marks of mature people is that they are teachable and don’t presume to have all the answers. Help your up-and-coming leader to overcome a know-it-all attitude by sharing your wisdom and experience with them, but also show your willingness to learn from them. You can also help build their confidence by showing them how to have a disciplined, action-oriented mindset.
Nurture Their Collaboration
Many Millennials are socially connected to everyone all of the time, but relationship-building and collaboration beyond social media tends to be lacking. When working with those who have a very different viewpoint, Millennials often do not have the emotional IQ and empathy to effectively deal with in-person disagreements.
In this area, make a resolution to help your Millennial leaders become a better version of themselves through collaboration with others. As you take on a mentorship role over the next 12 months, help them to learn the power and benefits of listening deeply to other people. Teach them the benefits of asking insightful questions and how to manage face-to-face conversations with confidence.
Your New Years’ Resolutions: How You Can Help
Focus your resolutions on modeling the type of leadership you want to see in your Millennial leader. When your emerging leader experiences your healthy self-image and respect for others, it’s easier to develop a mentoring relationship based on trust. Here are a few guidelines to help you through this mentoring process:
- Treat Millennial leaders as individuals – that’s what they crave. Show them you care about them and their development.
- Give them clear expectations. This will show them what success is and gives them a way to measure it.
- Always provide clear feedback. Make it a rule this year to communicate more thoroughly to encourage their
- Provide ongoing, frequent encouragement.
This year offers a fresh start and an opportunity for you to create the type of mentorship your Millennial up-and-coming leader needs. What steps will you put in place to embrace the millennial workfoce so that you create a year of development and growth?
Have you read Danita’s new book Millennials Matter: Proven Strategies for Building Your Next-Gen Leader.