According Pew Research (2017), millennials now represent the largest segment of the U.S. population. Just like previous generations, millennials will emerge as the next set of managers and executives. Top performing companies will work to magnify their strengths and build systems to compensate for their perceived deficiencies. The Bersin by Deloitte report predicts the most disruptive year ever. They highlight, “This year, more than 3.6 million company chiefs are set to retire as younger professionals ascend to managerial slots. Companies are busy planning this transition in order to cope with the massive loss of boomers.”
So how can you tap into this human capital resource that yields value? One of the key factors to remember: people invested in you. Invested is the key word here! Cross-generational mentoring yields big dividends and will yield real ROI value when leaders remember that mentoring is a 360 experience. I have 20 years’ vested in education and received phenomenal value from students that interned with me and know the latest trends that are taught at schools throughout the world. It just multiplied my own learning exposure to new technology, methods, and trends by allowing millennials to mentor me.
1) Teach Communication. This is multifaceted and includes listening, speaking, writing, and body language. Millennials love communicating through passive methods because they can go back and make edits: texting, emails, social channels. The ability to communicate effectively through reading, writing and speaking takes practice. Alex Weiss teaches there are four communication skills that are invaluable: a) Able to read with comprehension; b) Write with expression; c) Speak with influence and d) Listen with discernment.
2) Teach relationships. Meaning show interest in their lives. Ask about their interests, life, significant other and family. Be someone that they come to for wisdom (not just advice) and teach them the value of a relationships. Even if they leave your organization it is good to have a vast business network that is built on relationship values that are built on values that resonant and ripple in a BIG way.
3) Teach Efficiency. The ability to ramp up quickly is huge and makes a person valuable in an organization. It is easy to tell someone to do something, it takes patience, time and communication to build a relationship. Make sure they understand the big picture when assigning a project and they know their part will impact the project in measurable outcomes such as time, quality and value. When they understand how a mistake impacts the bigger picture there is more ownership and a greater sense of purpose. The ability to work smarter includes giving tips and suggestions on how to find, research, prepare and present work.
4) Teach Patience. For most people, patience is a gift we don’t recognize until we are in need of it. Patience doesn’t mean missed deadlines, poor quality or communication. By definition, it means “the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset” (Merriam Webster Dictionary). I had some incredible leaders that taught me to ask questions first before pulling the trigger on blame. Those individuals taught patience, communication, and leadership to me in big ways.
You can’t put someone in a leadership role unless you are willing to invest in them. If you want Millennials to succeed, then invest in their leadership by showing up in the relationship.