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January 20, 2021 Wednesday 10:26:21 AM IST

Millennials Better Lead Than Manage

Leadership Instincts

The past decade has witnessed millennials surpassing Generation X as the largest workforce demographic, and their presence is starting to cause foundational shifts inside the workplace. The millennial generation of workers is different than the preceding generations. They have a different set of workplace expectations, behaviours and needs that managers must understand in order to engage them effectively. These fresh workforce bring important new skills, ideas and energy to the office, yet they may be tough to hire and retain - and may demand more of you and your organization. While it’s difficult to paint an entire generation with one broad brush stroke one thing is clear: leading millennials is far better an option than managing them.Here are a few approaches for comprehending their work style and efficiently leading millennials to success.

Belongingness

The conventional top-down management style doesn't sink down well with millennials as they enjoy working together with teams. Recent research done by IBM states that that more than half of millennial workers agreed that they work better in groups than alone. They also strongly believe that they made quality business decisions when there were multiple sources of input. Angela Talton, Chief Diversity Officer of Nielsen says that the number one thing they do is engage millennials in an employee resource group as soon as possible upon being hired to Nielsen. Employee resource groups are small organizations within a company that focus on a wide range of interests and advocacies ranging from fitness, food, travel, sports, among many other causes. Narrowing down individuals that support the same interests is a crucial part of community integration. They identify like-minded people to forge meaningful relationships with, and this fundamentally helps retain and engage millennials in the workplace.

Mentorship


Millennials want to climb up the corporate ladder, so they expect feedback and guidance from their managers. Instead of waiting for the annual performance review, it will be ideal to take regular time with your millennial workforce to find out where they’re struggling and provide them guidance. Millennials always strives to leverage their knowledge and skills to make a difference. Thus they look to fruitful mentorship to learn, unlearn and relearn, to expand and chisel their expertise, and to be better in their respective careers. They look forward to connect and team up with individuals with unmatched knowledge, experience, and influence so they too can have a similar impact in society. While there is a thin line between the roles of managers and mentors, mentors teach millennials more than just work. Mentors guide them to be better leaders and decision-makers and to be better human beings in general. International organizations have their own iterations of mentorship programs where they train millennials to be experts in their own fields. Labelledas the firm’s ‘Experienced Commercial Leadership Program’, GE’s mentoring program puts trainees through an year long training and guidance in either sales or marketing, depending on their job. Apart fromequipping the workforce to cultivate robust marketing and sales skills, the mentorship also concentrates on improving their leadership competencies.

Purpose Driven

Millennials look forward to associate with a firm which makes them feel like they are making a difference in the world. They appreciate social responsibility and are faithful to establishments that are extending interventions to solve specific social issues. According to a recent article published by Fast Company, majority of millennials are ready to take a pay cut to find a job that is aligned with their values, while most of them wanted to use their skills for good.Research done by Pew Research Center identified that millennials value helping people in need (20%) more than a high-paying career (16%). According to the CEO of ReSource Pro, a business consultancy firm consisting predominantly of millennials, permitting employees to form committees and utilize organizational resources or time to organize their causes meets their need for social consciousness. When firms encourage employees to spend their weekends with Habitat for Humanity or participate in charity marathons, it makes them feel good about the organization. The best way to tap into the creative energy of employees is to show respect towards things that they really care about.

Growth Potential


Millennials are keen about growing and learning at rapid pace to ensure swift progress in their respective careers. They often ignore the drawbacks of hopping jobs, and they don’t want to be assured an attractive position in the “near future.” While it may appear being selfish, it really is all about being valued. Majority of the millennials have witnessed their parents work with the same employer their entire career, doing the same job day in and day out and hardly growing nowhere their true potential. Millennials detest bureaucracy and distrusts conventional hierarchies. If they feel that they are being used, they will leave, or worse, become disengaged. If you have an opaque management team, this is an even bigger diversion for them. The trick lies in demonstrating them how they bring value to the organization, and be very transparent about how they can progress their careers within the system.It is ideal to introduce new titles that fit in-between conventional title steps, with each step adding a little more accountability, challenging and growing their skillset.

By and large, companies have been very successful at getting millennials in the door, but they have had a tough time retaining them and inspire them to take up higher levels of responsibility. While these employees may seem like an enigma, it’s vital to crack their behavioural code which determines the long term success of the organization.In summary, leaders who are working with the emerging millennial workforce should keep in mind what engages them: belongingness, mentorship, purpose driven mission and growth potential.


Dr. Manu Melwin Joy

The writer is an Assistant Professor at School of Management Studies, CUSAT

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