The Y Factor: How to Nurture Star Qualities in Millennials
BY Jon Morris
Can you ditch the negative stereotypes long enough to find leadership potential in your ambitious younger staff?
The millennial population is booming. By 2030, this young and tech-savvy generation, born after 1979, will amount to 78 million people. But as this emerging group grows in influence, are you prepared to cultivate them to be the next rung of leadership within your company?
I've asked Piera Palazzolo, senior vice president of marketing at Dale Carnegie Training, to share her expertise on how companies with a large number of young professionals can cultivate leaders. Here are five strategies to better mobilize and train up-and-comers.
Communication Is Key
A recent employee engagement study conducted by Dale Carnegie Training found that the relationship with one's immediate supervisor is one of the key factors driving engagement in the workplace.
One of the best ways to build a strong relationship with young employees, and help them establish their own leadership skills, is through effective communication. Managers and leaders need to be able to communicate effectively to create strong and engaging relationships with employees. That means listening effectively, avoiding filters or biases, and speaking clearly and persuasively.
Managers should provide immediate feedback--both negative and positive. Young professionals need to know what they're doing right, and what needs improvement.
Titles Shouldn't Set The Tone
While it is extremely important that young professionals in a company understand their specific roles, being at a junior level should not hinder any employee's ability to become a great leader. Managers should take notice of strong employees who are looking to take on leadership roles and encourage them to step up, take on more responsibility, and excel. It is also important to teach young employees who have just entered the workforce what the best skills are to succeed within the company or position.
A manager's job is to know how to delegate tasks effectively. Giving a junior employee more responsibility empowers them to feel like a larger part of the company. The more confidence an employee has regarding their standing within an organization, the more they will be able to feel comfortable taking on a leadership role. It is also important that strong leaders know how much employees can handle, whether they have too much on their plate, and which person is the most suitable to take on certain roles.
If you are a manager who is encouraging young professionals to become leaders, you need to demonstrate the specific qualities you want to see. Another finding from the Dale Carnegie Training study was that employees who believe in senior management have higher overall levels of engagement.
There are two types of leadership skills you need to exhibit. First are the ones that reinforce your personal abilities. But you also need to show qualities that others can emulate. You need to be aware of your own skills--what's helped you get to your current position, and also what skills you wish you had improved upon before assuming a leadership role. This way you will be able to identify these qualities in others and better assist them in growing their leadership skills.
Maintain A Positive Work Environment
The final key factor that drives employee engagement is pride in working for one's company. You need to maintain a positive attitude and treat employees with respect to keep the workplace environment upbeat and foster employee loyalty. In turn, employees will be more engaged and motivated. They'll not only enjoy their time at the company, but also look forward to becoming a long-lasting part of it.
To sum up, employers need to remember these key words when managing millennials: communicate, teach, delegate, reinforce and respect. But before employers can put these ideas into practice, they must rethink how they view this group. Unfortunately, the word 'millennial' carries some negative stereotypes--such as having little work ethic or too much entitlement--and employers need to cast out those myths. What we've learned at our digital marketing agency is that all companies need to respect every interaction with their employees and help make their lives better. At the end of the day, if you want to build a strong organization, you need to build a strong team. Invest in your talent, and you will take your business to the next level.