To help business leaders overcome the challenge of developing Millennial leaders, we suggest that a shift in perspective is required from the typical approach to management. The typical approach to management is to focus on how employees perform their duties. To succeed when managing and leading Millennials – and to help them transition into leadership roles themselves – you must help them understand more than how, you must give them the opportunity to understand their why.
Mercer has pointed out that Millennials lead the trend in the workplace of people who are “happy but leaving,” or considering working somewhere else. This is the unique challenge that leadership faces when managing Millennials, and helping them understand why will help your emerging leaders be “happy and staying.”
As a leader we must trust that we’ve made good hiring decisions and our employees are capable of determining how something must be done. This is especially the case for Millennials who are highly educated and have diverse backgrounds. With a clear description of the objective or task, they’re bound to deliver. To keep emerging leaders on track, advancing corporate goals while developing their own capabilities, is another matter. That’s where the why becomes much more important than how.
This is more than harnessing the “passion” of the Millennials on your team. The crux of the matter is connecting their drive to corporate goals and objectives, providing a clear sense of how their internal passions align with the external mission of your organization.
Here are 3 steps to help your Millennials understand their why:
- Millennials must build greater self-awareness and EQ. They’ve got to know themselves and how they relate to others, before they can connect their attributes to corporate goals. You can accomplish through data-driven assessments. At BestWork, Inc. we prefer a proven approach which reviews life stories as a means of discovering hidden talents and passions – determining relevant strengths for their role.
- Your organization has got to know its mission. For your Millennials to align their strengths and interests to your goals, you’ve got to make it clear what your goals are, and the mission of your company. Plus, you need to express this in corporate communications and the actions of the organization.
- Provide opportunities for Millennials to connect their strengths to your corporate goals. This doesn’t mean that you hand over the reins immediately. In fact, coaching and feedback are more valuable than raises and promotions. Providing opportunities for advancement aligned with interests, and providing the support for Millennials to get there, is what wins the day in the end.
This last point can’t be underscored enough. The most successful organizations take their orders from the front lines. It helps to remember that Millennials are the best educated generation to enter the workforce yet. They know how to get things done very effectively.
- It’s your job as a leader to allow your Millennials to understand their why in the context of your organization. This will improve retention and provide a natural progression through leadership development that carries your organization into the future – on the backs of people who are committed to carrying the load and share in your vision.