It’s happening: millennials are becoming managers. But is your business ready to bring out the best in these career-hungry, progressive professionals?
Somebody stop the clocks. Millennials are now bosses and they’re hungry to take your business to the next level as the century marches towards its middle years.
Professional millennials are now in their mid-thirties and they’re taking up the top jobs as fast as you can say ‘avocado burger to go, please’.
While they’ve been one of the most over scrutinised generations ever, millennials have an awful lot to offer businesses. Yet the millennial leadership style may differ from what your current employees have been used to, so it’s time to sit up and take note of this high achieving, go-getting new power generation.
It’s certainly going to be useful to think about how millennial leadership might impact your business when promoting mid-level employees to more senior roles. That way, you can be one step in front of what may lie ahead.
We’ve heard that millennials will make up 75% of the workforce by 2025. But we’re also hearing this generation has a lot to offer businesses who are open to providing a positive employee experience. And if you start making these positive changes today you’ll drive your business into a new era of success.
WELCOME THE DIGITAL NATIVES
As digital natives, millennials have grown up with technology and know how best to use it to their advantage. Tech is a huge part of millennial life, with 53% of millennials saying they’d rather lose their sense of smell than their technology.
That’s commitment, right?
Played in the right way, this can offer businesses big benefits. As Sodexo’s ‘Move, Mould, Motivate: an essential guide to employee engagement’ study states, technology is literally going to transform the employee experience and bring about a new dimension in leadership.
Yet the way millennials communicate can be quite different to other generations of employees – it can even be described as ‘intense’.
Gallup’s Jim Clifton explains, “the way millennials communicate (texting, tweeting, Skype, WhatsApp) is now real-time and continuous. This dramatically affects the workplace because they’re accustomed to constant communication.”
If you’ve ever opened your WhatsApp and been horrified to see 85 messages in one group hanging out waiting to be perused by you, look away now. Millennial managers won’t get very far if they take this approach to communication in the workplace.
Yet regular and valuable contact can boost workplace engagement between leaders and their employees.
Sodexo’s ‘Move, Mould, Motivate’ study found that, “employees yearn for regular, honest discussions about their progression, their role in the company and how they can improve. Managers who deliver this will create a free-flowing, supportive and tolerant environment needed to inspire engagement.”
Good communication is vital to leadership and business success stories.
MILLENNIAL WAYS OF COMMUNICATION
Give your millennial managers the right workplace engagement tools and you’ll reap the benefits. Sodexo’s research shows that this can’t be valued highly enough, with “72% of employees saying that technology is important to their overall productivity in the workplace.”
In addition, AI is set to make our working environments even more effective.
“We will have more team management tools and AI will make these tools more conversational and productive,” predicts Deloitte’s Josh Bersin.
AI won’t, however, be able to take on the high quality tasks that only human judgement can add value to. Well, that’s what we’re being told anyway. When history judges us, this is how we may or may not have let the robots take over…
But back to the point. Fact is, millennial leaders are sure to be all over new technology and embrace it with open arms. They can also point those workers who aren’t quite so savvy with new technology towards training and development opportunities.
That said, as Prasseda Nair states in her article about talent trends, millennial leaders must resist the urge to lead from behind a computer screen or only via online communication platforms like Slack.
As most of us are learning, it’s becoming increasingly clear that face-to-face workplace engagement really drives performance and helps to boost employee satisfaction.
Millennial leaders who struggle with the personal touch might wish to explore other ways of building team rapport, like staff away days and corporate events.
Introducing creative staff performance incentives can be a good option too, to build workplace camaraderie and give employees something to talk about beyond the day-to-day tasks at hand.
THE THIRST FOR FLEXIBILITY
New developments in technology have also made it possible for us to work differently. The agile workplace is one that’s always ready to advance, and millennial leaders will be ready to take on new ideas and innovate where possible.
Sodexo’s ‘Millennial Mindset’ report says, “Millennials have a different way of learning, communicating and engaging. Technology has given them, quite literally, a world of information at their fingertips. They expect speed, ease, efficiency and mobility in every aspect of their lives.”
The possibilities of remote working are increasing. And with this constant connectivity comes a view that work is part of our wider lives.
Iain Thomson, Sodexo, says, “We’re now in a culture where we expect people, even when they’re on holiday, to be answerable – online, checking their phone, checking their emails. We’ve lost that sense of downtime”.
Sounds a little hectic, but it does bring one big benefit with it. The option for greater work-life balance.
We expect millennial leaders to drive the demand for flexibility in their workplaces. If you haven’t got a robust flexible working policy now, you need to address it.
“Millennials as an archetype value flexibility in the workforce, not just for themselves, but now for their teams,” says Prasseda Nair.
You heard it here people. It’s time to put presenteeism to bed – because if you don’t, millennials will.
MILLENNIALS HAVE A SOCIAL CONSCIENCE. DO YOU?
Millennial leaders will lead by living the company values. They’re constantly seeking to find inspiration in their daily lives, which means they’ll inspire your workforce too. This comes from a hunger to be the first to hunt out new experiences, sharing them with friends on social media.
Millennial leaders will want to see a clear mission and values, underpinned by a truly defined corporate social responsibility programme. This will be crucial for managers who want to boost talent retention and attract employees down the line.
It all plays to greater workplace engagement. Because if your people feel like they belong to a community, they’ll feel involved and ready to give you their best.
A COLLABORATIVE WAY OF WORKING
Millennials will bring fresh management techniques into the workplace – it certainly won’t be a case of old-style command and control. They’ll be super keen to get a variety of perspectives, even looking to older employers for mentoring and expertise.
That’s where you come in.
According to Anne Donovan at PwC, “millennials are driven by how supported and appreciated they feel, and how much possibility they have.” How you guide and mentor this generation of leaders will really count to create motivational success stories long term.
If you can encourage your millennial leaders to collaborate with older workers and seek their advice when making a decision, you can help them to manage the age gap to drive employee engagement that’s in everyone’s interests.
In fact, we recommend putting collaborative ways of working centre stage in your business -the benefits will be endless.
Here’s what a collaborative way of working looks like on paper:
1. Sets Clear and Defined Goals
When the whole team knows what’s expected, they’ll work hard to meet expectations. Performance incentives can help to bring this collaborative way of working to life, creating a culture of camaraderie and optimism.
2. Plays to individual’s strengths
We can’t all be brilliant at everything, but employees will feel more engaged when asked to do tasks they’re good at and enjoy. Again, finger pointing and blame are best avoided, so encourage millennial leaders to set their sights on bringing out the best of their employees.
3. Encourages innovation
Bring in latest technology to improve communication and give employees greater freedom to do their jobs to the best of their ability. This can also include remodelling the working environment with pods or break out areas and seeking out inspiring team building events. Remember, millennials are all about the experience.
4. Is social away from the office
If people socialise away from their desks, it will bring greater understanding and rapport when they’re back at them again. Whether this is a question of finding dazzling and unique company events or simple ways of getting everyone together in an informal and relaxed atmosphere, it’s well worth the effort.
5. It rewards and praises positive behaviour
When your people perform to a high standard, a culture of recognition leads to greater collaboration. There are all sorts of incentives and rewards out there designed to create a connection between you and your people. And they don’t have to break the budget, as any engagement specialists will tell you.
JOB HOPPING A MILLENNIAL TREND
So, once you’ve gone to all this time and effort to get acquainted with your millennial leaders and help them perform to a high standard, the last thing you want to do is lose them.
Yep, as you’re probably well aware, the millennial generation are the hardest to keep in a job. There are all sorts of stats out there, including the one from Deloitte stating that two-thirds of millennials hope to have moved jobs by 2020.
There are countless reports out there, like this one, describing millennials as the hardest generation to retain. It all points to the fact that businesses need to sharpen their people engagement skills to keep millennial recruits stimulated and driven. Talent retention is a big concern and employers need to be aware.
They’re career hungry and focused too – don’t even think about not having regular appraisals and one-to-one feedback sessions with this lot.
Good employee benefits go without saying, but our eyes are on staff incentive platforms that tap into the millennial love of the wellness trend. If you haven’t got an amazing health and wellbeing programme now, we think that’s about to change or it’s ‘on your bike’.
What else do millennials want? We’ve had a think about it here. But the smart money is on a forward-thinking, collaborative and high recognition working environment. If you can help to create that, you can help your millennial leaders to be the best they can – and that will give them the impetus to stick around and commit to your organisation for the long-term.
Buckle up, you’re going to be in for a ride. Enjoy.