Sure, the stereotypes say that, as a generation, millennials were overly coddled by their helicopter parents, that they are as attached like robots to their technology, that they are lazy, that they are entitled, and that they can’t seem to focus on one thing at a time. But face it: It won’t be long before millennials outnumber any other single generation in your workforce, which means that it won’t be very long before they are running your company. Have you been prepping them for leadership? It’s not too late to start working with your high-potential millennials to get them ready for the years to come; here are some thought-starters for how to proceed.
1. Feedback. So maybe the generation wasconstantly overseen by their parents. The good news; that prepared them for continual feedback, so these employees will welcome yours. In fact, they expect face time with supervisors and managers, and if they don’t get it, they might be inclined to leave—or will be simply disinclined to perform. They’ll be even more motivated by a chance to interact with the C-suite—giving your high-potential millennials entree to a high-level project or two would open that door and allow that leadership tier a chance to gauge their performance. All told, more interaction from managers and upper-level leaders will create the opportunity to help hone current skills and start developing the additional ones your employee will need to succeed at leadership. A good way to bridge the communication gap between millennials and their managers is through a 360 feedback program. According to Forbes, Gen Xers/Boomers continue to site self-awareness as a key development need for Millennials. A self survey within a 360 feedback project may help bring to light this area for development, bridge the perception gap and also open communication channels between manager and millennial.
2. Technology. Yes, this generation grew up alongside our current technology, which means that smart devices, for them, are natural extensions of their arms. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing—advances in technology will continue to snowball over time, so your company would be wise to tap in to the insights of the people who are early (and natural) adopters. If you give your millennials freedom to engage with technology the way they’re accustomed to, you might find that their innovations could improve some aspect of your business, sending it to greater heights and preparing it for future technological advances.
3. Motivation.What might seem like laziness or entitled behavior could actually be a lack of connection to the role. Millennials work best when they understand how their job impacts the overarching corporate strategy and when they feel their work has purpose, so be sure to clearly communicate their role and the possible paths they could follow to a management position.
4. Multitasking.In part because technology allows for multiple avenues of engagement, this generation is used to having many things going on at once. Which also translates to other arenas: Many millennials often get bored if they’re pointed in only one direction. Leverage that need for activity through multi-layered projects, varying workloads, and collaboration. Let your employees learn about different departments and workflows, and give them a view of the big picture of your organization. They’ll understand better how everything works, so when they become the leaders of your company, they’ll already have a leg up.
Although the next generation might seem very different from the boomers and Xers you’re accustomed to, remember: Everyone needs to start from somewhere. Make the investment to grow your millennial employees now, and that investment will payoff in the future.