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.
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.
Many business leaders are beginning to worry about how few Millennials have the leadership and sales acumen to fuel their growth and transition into senior leadership roles.
Danita Bye passionately believes that Millennials could be the new “greatest generation.” She is a leadership expert on the Forbes Coaches Council and is the founder of Sales Growth Specialists. I recently spoke with her about her love of Millennials and how to equip the next generation.
The star performers responsible for the growth of our businesses will, in a few short years, primarily be Millennials. Mentoring young leaders needs to be a top priority of every company’s business growth strategy. We need to actively recruit and train them to replace the nearly 10,000 baby boomers retiring each day. Starting in the early 2020s, Millennials are going to drive our economy. Since that is the case, Millennial leaders will be key assets to accelerating business growth, tapping new markets and launching innovative products and services.
In our recent Millennials Matter Survey of over 270 business leaders, 60 percent voiced their concerns with Millennial leaders in three areas: character, confidence, and collaboration. Even experienced leaders are seeking proven strategies to deal with these and other mentoring and coaching challenges. Doing so will help them maximize their business opportunities while realizing their leadership legacy.
Why Millennials Get a Bad Rap
In my opinion, Millennials often get labeled unfairly. Why is that?
Millennials do indeed get a bad rap in the media where the focus is often on the group of Millennials who are entitled, narcissistic, and still living in their parent’s basement. However, that’s not my experience. I work with many emerging leaders who are highly talented people of rock-solid character and firmly grounded confidence. They exhibit the ability to connect and collaborate in a wide range of challenging communication scenarios with a broad range of people.
We also have to admit that Millennial leaders are different from previous generations. Based on current media, technology and culture, they view leadership from a unique angle. For example, 91% of Millennials see themselves as leaders. This is shocking to many who worked hard to climb the ladder and become “leaders.” Plus, they crave leaders who interact in a non-conventional way – they don’t want a boss. They want a mentor or a coach to help them grow in their leadership capacity and influence. Some leaders perceive this “different” as a negative, expressing concern. However, when we are able to look, stop complaining and start coaching, we can harness the incredible potential that Millennials bring to our businesses. It’s these fresh insights and perspectives that hold the seeds to dealing more effectively with the competitive pressures of today’s crazy sales and business environment.
“Millennial leaders don’t want a boss. They want a mentor or a coach to help them grow in their leadership capacity and influence.” -Danita Bye
Technology continues to change everything, and work is no exception. In just a few years, we have seen companies emerge from Uber to Instacart. New digital platforms are emerging that explore different business models.
Before I answer that question, let’s clarify the meaning of the word “gig.” The term was first used with jazz musicians in the 1920s, where they would book one club for a week and another for a few days in a different club across town. A gig referred to work that could vary in duration and was for a variety of employers. So gigs have been around for a long time. I started my company, M Squared Consulting, in 1988 to match independent consultants with projects. It was a gig economy company long before the term had even been coined. The “Gig Economy” refers to the people who work independently for a variety of entities as well as the companies that enable that work, both the new digital talent platforms, as well as traditional intermediaries and staffing companies. Additionally, you could include the vast eco system that has sprung up to support this work, including co-working space, productivity apps, collaboration tools, and financial service products targeted at the independent workforce.
Successful gig workers have grit, resilience and learn from mistakes.
A few years ago, you received two calls that got your attention in a new way. How did that alter your thinking?
Actually there were three random and unrelated calls from venture capitalists and private equity guys who wanted to talk to me about digital talent platforms. One idea was for a platform for professional moms who wanted to work flexibly after the kids were older. Another was to build a pool of on-demand oil field services workers in Western Africa, and the third was to create a product to hire recent college graduates into entry level management positions in a way that would require no human intervention. All of the players were technologists who had never run a service business, let alone a people-intensive one. Much of the magic was to be in the algorithms which would match talent and opportunity seamlessly and quickly. Many of the fairly basic questions I asked—like who would hire the moms? Would they be employees or contractors? And how would the platform make money?—had not yet been answered. I was struck by the disconnect of talent being the most important thing to the success of an organization, but nonetheless the goal was to eliminate humans in the process of securing that talent. It inspired me to take a much deeper dive into the burgeoning world of digital talent platforms.
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.