In previous posts, I’ve discussed the needs of Millennials, and how firms can better attract them to their organisation. In this post we are going to explore how to help develop them. We are pushing on an open door with development because Millennials want to learn: 50% believe organisations can do more to develop their future leaders, and 1 in 4 are positively “asking for a chance” to demonstrate their leadership skills. Development needs to focus on helping them to become short-term sensations and developing their skills.
Of course, training is helpful and part of this, but the biggest opportunity is with their managers and their role in developing them. If you have a manager who is brilliant with clients but is poorly managing their team, then they are underperforming. Clear expectations need to be set around management, defining what great management is and rewarding people based on their management competency.
Think mentor not manager: The word manager can imply a command and control leadership style, which they won’t respond to. Approaching the relationship with the mindset of a mentor communicates that you are committed, care and are actively helping them to build their skills.
To be an effective “mentor” three conversations need to happen frequently:
- The Expectation Conversation: Being transparent about expectations, defining what constitutes a great performance and what is not acceptable. It also includes defining how people get promoted, and that it is not simply when you ask. Netflix have three upfront conditions for promotion 1) the job has to be big enough. Someone might be fantastic in their current role, but they will not be promoted if the company doesn’t need a person at that level 2) they must be a superstar in their current role and 3) they must be an extraordinary role model of Netflix’s culture and values.
- The Feedback Conversation: 41% of Millennials prefer to be recognised for their work at least on a monthly basis. They have been brought up on a diet of feedback and they cannot be sensational without it. “You need to improve the relationship with the client” is a statement, it’s not effective feedback. Giving feedback is a trained, practised skill which managers need to acquire.
- The Praise Conversation: If you think praise is a nice to do, than you are unwittingly buying into the belief that productivity is a nice to do too. A Gallup survey of 4 million people found those who received recognition and praise increased their individual productivity and were more likely to stay with an organization. This generation have been brought up with praise from parents, school and without it they will become disengaged.
As well as this, you need consider how to increase opportunities to collaborate and connect. Finding ways to remove hierarchy both internally and externally will enable them to play to their strengths; there needs to be open channels of communication. At 7 Stars Media, despite increasing in size, the entire agency still meets every Monday for a conversation. Mindvalley has two day “hack a thons” off site. On day 1 they “hack” their department and day 2 the business. This enables every person in the business to contribute their ideas, and at the end the best hacks are implemented. It means that Gen Y are kept happy, get to demonstrate their skills, and through collaboration learn how to improve those skills.
By asking your managers to focus on the three conversations – expectation, feedback and praise it will allow Millennials to grow and develop, whilst minimising the pain points that they can create in a business. In the next blog we will talk about retention.