Understanding Tomorrow’s Leaders Today

I’ve been reading a lot lately on how to recruit and manage tomorrow’s leaders, Gen Y or the Millennial generation, individuals roughly born between 1980 and 2000. While some of the research intrigues me there are plenty of articles out there that literally make me laugh out loud.

“They want a trophy just for showing up.” “They feel they are entitled to have a say from day one.” “They’re not interested in what older workers know.” “They’re lazy.” “They’re annoying and can’t be managed.”

I’m a Millennial. I don’t expect a trophy for showing up to work on-time and I’ve put in many long hours and weekends to get where I am today like many of my peers.  Maybe Millennials are so “annoying” because we actually want to be managed – just not the way you’ve done so in the past. For companies to keep moving forward they need to understand tomorrow’s leaders today.

What makes this generation so unique?

Millennials grew up with the Internet and cell phones. From birth, they have had strong parental involvement and as a result, they expect strong, active leadership from their managers. They have had to scrape and claw to get into the best Universities, nab the prime internships, and get entry-level jobs. Thus, Millennials don’t fear challenges and taking the “path less traveled” is something that they enjoy doing.  They are team players, enjoy collaboration and are confident.  This generation has a need to be inspired, to belong and to be a part of something that makes a difference and makes life better for others.

What does this mean for companies attempting to recruit and manage Millennials? It’s time to take a new approach.

I’ve gathered together a few tips that will help any company and manager overcome their fear of the Millennial employee:

  1. Provide leadership and guidance. Millennials want to look up to you, learn from you and receive daily feedback from you. Millennials want “in” on the whole picture and to know the scoop. Plan to spend a lot of time teaching and coaching; they want your very best investment of time.
  2. Take advantage of Millennials’ comfort level with teams. This generation is used to working in groups and teams. In contrast to the lone ranger attitude of earlier generations, they actually believe a team can accomplish more and better things. Encourage collaboration.
  3. Millennials are multi-taskers on a scale you’ve never seen before. Multiple tasks don’t faze them. Talking on the phone while doing email and answering multiple instant messages – yes! This is their way of life. In fact, without many different tasks and goals to pursue within the week, most will likely experience boredom.
  4. Provide a life-work balanced workplace. Millennials are used to cramming their lives with multiple activities. They play on sports teams, walk for multiple causes, and spend lots of time with family and friends. This group plays hard, and works even harder. The sixty hour work weeks defined by their parents’ generation, the Baby Boomers, is not their way of life.
  5. Provide a fun, employee-centered workplace. They want to enjoy their work. They want to enjoy their workplace and they want to make a difference. When possible, let people work from anywhere. Your company is their brand and they are your brand champions.

I’ll say it again; companies cannot develop tomorrow’s leaders with yesterday’s techniques. Changing the way you manage, recognize, and reward Millennial employees is an essential part of your organization’s future success. Don’t believe the myths. The Millennial generation is here, and we are ready to work, and work hard to achieve great things.

Kimberly Kelsey, Marketing Manager, Red Book Solutions & B2A

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3 responses to “Understanding Tomorrow’s Leaders Today

  1. Great blog, food for thought.

  2. I know there are some who think they are entitled, but they’re going to be there in every generation. Thankfully, those GenY’s who are willing to work hard (like us) are excited to have these opportunities and to leverage them to achieve our goals. Take a look at the “Thank You Economy” and “Mesh”, and the fact that we have *Social* Media… it’s all about connection. The more our managers connect with us and the more we connect with each other, the more valued we feel and the more likely we are to freely give of what we have.
    Thanks for your post!

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