L&D Playbook Lesson Two: The Secret to Managing and Leading Millennials? Vision and Learning
July 8, 2019
Editor's Note: Over the next few weeks, we'll be rolling out three lessons for developing up-and-coming employees as leaders and managers. Learn more about the effort in our playbook introduction, and check ReWork again soon for lesson three!
In 2016, millennials became the largest generation of people in the American workforce, accounting for 35% of workers in the U.S. But despite their majority status, millennials are also the least engaged.
So how can organizations empower managers to lead and motivate millennials?
As Deloitte's 2019 Global Millennial Survey shows, millennials place a high priority on vision-driven values. They believe businesses should focus on agendas that improve society as a whole, and take more into account than just generating profit. At the same time, they believe that businesses have a responsibility to help workers develop new skills that will help them adapt as emerging technologies change the nature of work.
By tapping into those desires–the need to connect to a larger vision while developing new skill sets–organizations can prepare managers to lead their employees to a successful future.
Help Managers Establish a Vision
The first key to helping managers connect with their millennials employees is to show them how to establish and share a vision that will speak to their workers. Managers need to be well-versed in topics like ethical leadership and inclusive leadership—both of which emphasize the importance of being in tune with employees' individual needs, experiences and strengths and knowing how to lead workers with all these idiosyncratic elements in mind. This is where the connection between management and leadership becomes crystal clear—managing isn't just about handing tasks and filling out performance reviews; it's about inspiring and motivating as well.
And on a more tactical level, managers can learn to demonstrate to millennials what their personal vision can look like. That means managers need access to topics like collaborative goal-setting, where they can learn how to align each employee's goals to their own beliefs and motivating factors.
Give Managers Coaching Tools for the Future
Despite their reputation, millennials aren't just naive do-gooders. They're realistic about the future, and worried that the skills they've learned won't necessarily be useful as new technologies and automation change the way work is done. That's why they crave skill development opportunities more than any other generation.
But while it's important for millennials to be proactive about seeking out their own growth opportunities, getting support and motivation from their managers can be beneficial as well.
So, when discussing training with your managers, encourage them to highlight learning and development opportunities to the millennials on their teams, in case they're not aware of them already. Managers would also benefit from brushing up on their coaching skills and how to give feedback effectively—taking time to personally teach millennials things they may not know or simply giving them insight into their strengths and weaknesses can show millennials ways to improve their skills and prepare for their futures. Similarly, offering managers training on delegation can help them give their millennials hands-on opportunities to learn new skills.
Developing People-First Leaders
Of course, many employees who need good managers are not millennials, and they deserve the same careful approach and attention from their managers. But part of the value of encouraging managers to consider their millennial employees is to get them thinking about the different needs of all the people they're managing. Strong managers meet team members where they are, and help them grow from there. By thinking about their millennial team members' specific needs, they'll practice customizing their management styles based on the needs of their team members, and ultimately become better managers and leaders.