Unleashing Passion and Performance in Younger Generations

Future Leaders

 

Over one hundred million people make up millennials and Generation Z.

How do we motivate these young people? How do we unleash the power of these new generations?

Mark Perna is an author, CEO and generational expert. His new book Answering Why: Unleashing Passion, Purpose and Performance in Younger Generations, is designed to help leaders awaken the potential of the Why Generation. I recently had the opportunity to ask him about his research and new book.

 

McGraw-Hill Education found that only 20 per cent of college students feel “very prepared” to enter the workforce.

 

The Why Generation

What is the Why Generation? What qualities and traits distinguish it?

The Why Generation is my term for Generations Y and Z, which include basically everyone under 40 today. Collectively, I call them the Why Generation because they want to know the reason behind everything. And this is exactly how we reared them. A lot of older-generation folks in management roles often perceive this as disrespect or insubordination, but it’s actually not. Young people want to know the reason why so that they can fully understand what they are being asked to do, and even more than that, so they can see if there is a way they can improve the process. They want to bring their own unique, special, and important contribution to the success of the plan, whatever it may be. They want to be engaged; they want their work to be relevant and mean something. They are not being rebellious when they ask why; they really want to know. They want purpose, and they will perform to the expectations we set for them (whether high or low). We have to answer the big question they are always asking in one way or another: why?

They place great importance on their personal values, which are often characterized by social and environmental activism. They want to be part of something bigger than themselves, and once they buy into a cause, they’re committed. Every decision they make is influenced to some extent by how it affects their desired lifestyle.

They’ve brought a fresh perspective to the working world. Both the Millennials and Generation Z want their work to be about more than the paycheck. They prioritize a flexible working environment that allows them to work from home and/or work nontraditional hours, and many companies are taking these preferences into consideration. They also want to rethink the ways things have always been done to create new processes to complete the work more efficiently.

They’re also digital natives who have grown up surrounded by technology. It’s their norm to have multiple screens going as they maximize their digital experience. Because they believe they’re unique, special, and important, they are constantly looking for ways to tell their story on the vast array of social media options. They also communicate differently, much more briefly than older folks are used to.

 

Only 11 per cent of business leaders perceive college graduates to be ready for work, according to a recent Gallup poll.

 

In what ways can we realize the full potential of the Why Generation?

The Compelling Case for Cross-Generational Conversations

you can't google it

Generational Conversations

Many people who write me express frustration about dealing with a different generation. Often the emails I receive are full of sweeping generalizations and accusations. Some are less frustrated, but sincerely baffled, wondering how to bridge the divide.

You Can’t Google It: The Compelling Case for Cross-Generational Conversation at Work by Phyllis Weiss Haserot is a book written to help companies, their leaders and personnel of all generations work harmoniously together to understand each other and achieve their common goals faster, profitably and sustainably.

I recently spoke with Phyllis about her research and book.

 

“Some individuals in every generation exhibit what’s popularly called entitlement.” – Phyllis Weiss Haserot

 

Achieve Generational Harmony

Tell us about this word you coined: GENgagement™.

I’ve defined GENgagement as the state of achieving harmony, mutual involvement and cooperation, flow, and ongoing absorption in work with people of different generations.

GENgagement means getting all of the generations to understand each other, their influences, and their worldviews so they can work collaboratively, loyally, and productively. It is integral to the mission of transforming workplaces into engaged and productive environments for solving problems and being great places to work.

Benefits to organizations when workers are harmoniously engaged include desired talent retention, development of new skills, competitive intelligence, innovative ideas, and smooth transfer of external relationships – and increased profitability. According to an Aon Hewitt study, a 5% increase in engagement can generate an increase of 3% in revenue growth the following year.

 

Research: 5 percent increase in engagement can generate a 3 percent increase in revenue.

 

What are a few of the obstacles to achieving GENgagement?

Flip the Leadership Mind Switch and Rethink How You Lead

Flip the Switch

I’m often giving keynote speeches about the rapid-fire pace of change. From artificial intelligence to the gig economy, the world of work is changing at a record pace.

The Leadership Mind Switch is a new book by authors Debra Benton and Kylie Wright-Ford that helps leaders position themselves for the future in the midst of these changes. To keep up and succeed, you want to understand how to navigate to drive growth well into the future.

 

Rethink How We Lead

Why is it important to rethink how we lead? 

While it is always important to grow and develop as leaders, we are experiencing an historical era where tech advances married with sweeping demographic changes, plus a shift in the power base from corporations to individuals, have upended the way the future looks for work, workplaces and workers.

The sharing economy, the low marginal cost of becoming an entrepreneur and the preferences of rising generations mean that leadership behaviors of the past will fail in a quest for relevancy in our physically and digitally fused world.  Yet leaders are still using biographies of their favorite leaders from the 80s and 90s as their guides for the future.

As a Chief Operating Officer meeting hundreds of the world’s best executives, I was struck by the slow pace of change in the way we interact in the workplace relative to the pace of change in the outside world, the changing complexion of our customer bases in business and the demands of the rising generations.  Legacy thinking and iterations on past methods won’t cut it in the new world of work, yet many leaders are “nibbling at the edges” of the changes they need to implement to attract and retain talent and, frankly, to remain relevant. Free food and subsidized health memberships are not enough anymore.  Dramatic shifts in the characteristics and behaviors we value are needed to thrive going forward.

 

The Importance of Trust

The dizzying pace of change often make us believe that everything is upended, but some things have not changed for leaders. What is something that remains unchanged and just as important in terms of leadership? 

The ideal of being trusted and trustworthy has not changed over time.  It is as important now as it ever was, especially in the eyes of those impacted by less than honest leaders, but what is different now is our ability to get transparency on and take action against leaders that lie, cheat and create subversive cultures.

The optimism of people and yearning for strong leadership, whether real or perceived, can often mask less than trustworthy behavior for a period of time.  However, we are entering an era where rising generations are seeking more from their leaders and their organizations.  Consumers, workers and competitors have more ability than ever to call out bad behaviors, share good behaviors and make choices.

 

“The optimism of people and yearning for strong leadership can often mask less than trustworthy behavior.”

 

I have unwavering belief in our ability as a society to sift through the noise of leaders who are untrustworthy and that we have an opportunity to set a new bar for leaders who create positive cultures, leave enduring legacies and inspire those coming behind and beside them.  We just aren’t there yet.

 

What behaviors do leaders need today that may not have been “musts” in the past? 

Master the Boomerang Principle and Inspire Lifetime Loyalty

Inspire Loyalty

I remember when my grandfather retired many years ago. He had been at the same company for decades. My father, too, worked for one employer for the majority of his career before retiring.

Today, it’s not uncommon to change employers every few years. Millennials especially move around. After all, companies aren’t as loyal to employees as they once were, so it’s only natural that employees’ loyalties have also shifted.

What are the implications of these changes? What should companies do?

 

“Build a culture of value that consistently greens your own pastures.” -Lee Caraher

 

Lee Caraher has built several companies, and she’s an expert on Millennials. She argues that it’s important to create long-lasting relationships with your employees even after they leave. In today’s environment, you want them to be raving fans of the organization no matter where they turn up.

I love this philosophy. I followed up with Lee to ask her more about her experience and research into what she calls The Boomerang Principle.

Lee Caraher is the CEO of Double Forte, a national PR and social media firm, and the author of The Boomerang Principle: Inspire Lifetime Loyalty from Your Employees.

 

“Boomerangs are the drivers of sustainable business.” -Lee Caraher

 

How Expectations Have Shifted

What organizational traits do Millennials look for?

6 Steps to Understand and Engage the Next Generation

Chasing Relevance

 

You may have read the facts:

83 million millennials are in the United States. That’s 36% of our workforce today and 75% by 2025.

How do we best connect with this next generation?

How do we attract and retain them?

What’s the best way to care about their success?

 

Dan Negroni’s new book, Chasing Relevance: 6 Steps to Understand, Engage, and Maximize Next-Generation Leaders in the Workplace, tackles the challenge. Dan is the CEO of launchbox, an attorney, a sales and marketing executive, and an expert on the millennial generation. I recently asked him about his work empowering the next generation.

 

60% of the world’s population is under 30.

 

Understand the Generational Divide

Is today’s generational divide greater than the ones that have come previously?

Yes, the difference surrounds how this generation was raised versus others.  The first difference is technology.  The rapid change in it and the connectivity in the world and dynamics of social media have changed the nature of who we are and how we interact.  We have focused less on the interpersonal and more on the phone or device as a means of communication together with the immediacy of action.   This generation wants action and now.  Millennials are not schooled in relationship-building skills, so they are not wired to connect.  This is the biggest difference.  Instead of dealing with the differences, we are just complaining that millennials are not good enough.

The biggest gap involves perspective and myths.  Each side is completely steeped in their views that the other perspective is flawed. For example:

Do the following statements about millennials ring mostly true or mostly false?

  • They have a sense of entitlement, and expect everything now!
  • They’re lazy and don’t want to work hard like we did; work/ 
life balance is more important than hard work.
  • They are disloyal and jump ship if they are not engaged or 
growing.
  • They need feedback all the time, 24/7/365. (“Please tell me 
how great I am. Every day. Twice.”)
  • They have different career goals from non-millennials.
  • They want everything digital.
  • They don’t deal well with authority.

Here’s the answer: It was a trick question.

All these are true . . . and false . . . and none of that matters. They are assumptions—myths, really—and there is no right or wrong when it comes to them. That’s because while myths, assumptions, stereotypes—whatever you want to call them—may be false as blanket statements (“all Americans are overweight” and “all fashion models are anorexic”), they come from a place of partial truth (more than two-thirds of Americans are overweight and many models are unrealistically thin). But who wants to be viewed through the lens of myths like these?

Consider the quiz from the other side. Do the following statements about non-millennial managers ring mostly true or mostly false?

  • They obey the Golden Rule: “I’ve got the gold, I make the rules!”
  • They are only in it for the money.
  • They are inflexible and don’t like change; they’re stuck in 
their ways.
  • They are so not tech savvy.
  • They don’t care about their teams or people.
  • They are “hard graders” and couldn’t care less about 
recognizing others.
  • They are afraid of nontraditional approaches.
  • They are willing to trade the pursuit of true passion for
stability.

If you are a non-millennial manager, does this sound like you? Or sound like how you want to be perceived in this world? Well, these are the things most millennials say about us. How much is true? Not much. Just as you are guilty of creating myths that lead to disconnect and frustrations with millennials, they are guilty of perpetuating myths about you.

managers vs millenials

 

Work from the Inside-Out

What do you mean when you say to “work from the inside out?” 

The secret to job and life satisfaction is internal self-awareness and growth.  Youth in general is a time where, if we can understand ourselves, we can start to create a journey to build great careers and lives. Millennials in particular require training on how to understand and accomplish learning about themselves to impact the world.  We believe the secret to success is predicated on understanding yourself to impact others, and they need help to learn how to engage themselves in the world and subsequently to create a talent and career track.  If we can have them connect to their inside motivation and goals, we can universally have them succeed along their journey.

 

“Focus on where you want to go; not on what you fear.” -Tony Robbins

 

Bust Millennial Myths