7 Ways To Develop Your Company’s Millennials For Leadership

7 Ways To Develop Your Company's Millennials For Leadership

Doesn’t that manager look a little young?

If you’ve asked yourself or someone else that question recently, you may have good reason.

In many organizations, people are moving into management and leadership roles earlier than ever in their careers.

There’s a good reason why this is happening. Demographically, Millennials became the largest generational cohort in the U.S. workplace in March 2015.

US Labor Force By Generation Graph

At the same time, changes among previous generations in the workplace are opening up new opportunities for Millennials.

For example, baby Boomers are retiring at the rate of 10,000 per day, and Generation X — the group currently in their forties and fifties — are too small a generation to fill all the leadership slots opening up as Boomers retire.

What is a “Millennial”?

Demographers don’t always agree on the exact definition of the generational cohort called “Millennials. But in general, they are people born between 1981-2000.

Other generations are also defined as being born during a roughly 20-year period:

  • “Silents” 1928-1945
  • “Boomers” 1946-1964
  • “Generation X” 1965-1980

So, although the oldest Millennials are just in their mid-thirties, they are and will continue to be, moving into leadership positions earlier in their careers than their predecessors.

In fact, a study by Deloitte in 2013 indicated that 50% of Millennials already hold leadership roles.

In addition, a survey done by Deloitte in 2015 suggest businesses, particularly in developed markets, will need to make significant changes to attract and retain their future workforce.

What all this means is that organizations urgently need their Millennial employees to be ready to step up into leadership — now.

How can you make sure they’re ready?

Here are a few suggestions to consider and help your organization build and retain its Millennial leaders:

  • Remember the “3 C’s”— Coach, Consult, Connect: This generation grew up in an education system that encouraged asking questions and learning at your own pace — with technology that put a whole world of information at their fingertips. Being “told”, “instructed”, or “trained” turns them off.
  • Move them ahead fast: Maybe faster than you (or they) are comfortable with. They’re impatient with the notion of “paying dues” because given the pace of technological change, they already know how to do a lot of things their predecessors will never master.
  • Provide a variety of career experiences: Picture a “corporate lattice” not a “corporate ladder”. Give them experiences that will stretch them and teach them new skills while moving back and forth and across as well as up the corporate structure.
  • Provide frequent feedback and be transparent about goals and milestones: Transparency and authenticity are critically important to this generation. Tell them what’s up — they can take it and will thank you for it.
  • Connect what they do to the “big picture”: Millennials hate feeling like the proverbial cog in the machine. Make sure they understand how their efforts contribute to the success of the team, division, and company.
  • Help them navigate work/home balance: A recent poll we did among Millennial leaders in an organization showed that they value work/life balance.

That may surprise you, since many of these people have not yet married or started families. But it reflects a different view of work: they grew up with parents who often struggled to “have it all” in career and family, and they know that organizations have to do more — a lot more – to make the balance work for their employees.

  • Be “tech savvy” as an organization: Nothing tells a Millennial that his/her organization is out-of-date more than being issued an old laptop, or forced to work with a “clunky” operating system. In the words of one Millennial we spoke to, “Old laptops equal old thinking.”

Going Forward:

It’s not your imagination. Those managers sitting around the conference table really ARE younger than ever.

Make sure you’re doing the things you need to do to ensure they’re still in your organization when their first grey hairs start to appear in a decade or so.

About The Author:

Sue Matson is a partner and Master Executive Coach at rd&partners who works with leaders and teams who believe that leadership development should be tied to business strategy and measured for results and ROI. Connect with Sue and rd&partners on LinkedIn.

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