6 Reasons Why Millennials Can’t be Managed

Millennials come in for some stick and scrutiny and I believe that one of the factors that challenges us the most is that we have to change the way we lead in order to fully engage the potential of millennials. 

For most of us in leadership positions this means that we are the ones who need to change and change feels uncomfortable.

Millennials have a different set of expectations, shaped by the world in which they have grown up. Here are 6 reasons why you can’t manage a millennial and ways we need to motivate and lead them differently.

  1. They demand greater purpose in the work they do.

Recession has impacted upon their progress through life and has driven a need for greater self-reliance, the re-forming of future hopes and dreams, the re-assessment of what they expect materialistically and the demand for more personal purpose.

This drives a need to align their personal values with the values of the organisation they work for. They will see through the ‘poster on the wall’ values that many organisations pay lip service to. They know what values mean and they expect to be living them personally and professionally.

Or to seek this elsewhere through self-employment, start-ups and more flexible, fulfilling ways of working.

2. They see the bigger picture and the impact of their small actions

The millennials world is more widely connected than any baby boomers and generations Xers could ever have anticipated. How can they not be aware of the bigger picture?

They understand that their actions as employees and consumers will make a difference once linked to the actions of other employees and consumers in their global community, and they are more mindful of the impact they may have as a small part of a collective.

They are cautious of shareholders and suspicious of investors – they’re the ones who stitch up the public and help the rich get richer right? So, what is their incentive for achieving their KPIs, when ultimately the benefit of their successful delivery will be for shareholders and investors?

This means Millennials are demanding and expecting greater integrity and authenticity from the organisations and leaders they will commit to.

3. They understand that they are the change they most want to see in the world

They see a world which is in economic, social and environmental turmoil. 

In his book ‘Fast Future’ David Burstein describes Millennials approach; “They have a deep desire to make the world a better place and they understand that doing so means working within the existing system, whilst trying to challenge and change it” (paraphrased).

They see a world which needs to make a change and they understand that they are responsible for the change they most want to see in the world.

They seek people who inspire them to make these changes.

They have the ability to network with like-minded people and the desire to collaborate.

They demand leaders who understand this too.

4. They demand a compelling vision for the long term

Millennials are part of an environment where change is happening exponentially – one change leading to another and then to another.

How can you identify the steps for a plan, when you cannot anticipate what will happen next because you need to learn something new first? This means Millennials are more comfortable with ambiguity, but what drives them forward in the absence of structure is a compelling vision.

Organisations and leaders need to communicate and re-iterate a compelling vision to continually engage millennials. This vision must be purposeful and authentic.

5. They need to evolve the ability to find answers for themselves

Millennials want to be inspired and given the opportunity to contribute the best of themselves to the world (as we all do).

Exponential change and innovation means that answers and solutions are often evolving, rather than known. It’s essential that all team members evolve the ability to solve for themselves, because if they wait for leaders to provide solutions progress will be slowed.

Teams require leaders, but not the hierarchical ‘I’ve got all the answers’ kind, leaders who enable and facilitate. Leaders who provide the space and environment for Millennials to solve problems themselves. Where trust and authenticity is encouraged and they are challenged to stretch, grow and evolve, rather than being challenged to deliver and meet measures driven by shareholders and investors for their benefit alone.

6. They want feedback, not appraisal

Millennials are used to a world of immediacy. Google, Apps, on-line games – they ask a question and they have their answer within seconds. They play a game and see their result straight away.

Exams are part of their on-going assessment as schools test more frequently to feedback and address learning gaps throughout the school year.

Millennials need and demand more frequent, specific feedback, enabling them to immediately reflect, learn and adapt. Not annual appraisal against KPIs or out of date comments on past outcomes.

If we want to fully release and utilise the talent and commitment of our future workforce is it time for us to re-think the purpose of organisations? The influences on culture, such as structure and measurement and ultimately our leadership approach?

Inspiration taken from research by Howe and Strauss and Yu & Miller about workplace attitudes of millennials.

If you would like to develop your leadership team and your approach to linking purpose and vision with your objective setting and review process contact Lyn to discuss what you’re currently observing and where you would like to be: 07950 914328, Lyn@evolveyou.co.uk

Ping Pong Tables and Funky Furniture

Ping pong tables, funky furniture and advanced ways to share work and communicate, may be seen as indicators of an innovative workplace and a high-performance culture.  However, the ‘window dressing’ often doesn’t deliver the desired results.

Perks and environment don’t drive performance – they support it.  It is delivered through behaviours and relationships.  People who are crystal clear on what they need to deliver for their organisation and how they deliver it to their customers.  People who understand how to continuously improve – together.

Business leaders often focus upon structure, process, environment, sexy marketing.  New systems are implemented, processes redefined. A ‘ra ra’ launch for the new product or branding to get people excited – and they are – in that moment.

When the shiny newness wears off people fall back into the status quo – where it feels comfortable and familiar.  Back into their ‘to do’ lists and work silos – particularly if there is a heavy workload.  There isn’t time to consider the bigger picture, to worry about whether their outputs are aligned with those of their colleagues.  With the best of intentions, they believe that as long as they do a good job, the customer will be happy.

Business leaders become frustrated, because despite their investment, the front-line people who can make a difference are not delivering their highest performance levels.  Continuous improvement is seen as a project, not a day to day norm.

The counter-intuitive solution to continually engaging people with the organisational strategy, with continually finding ways to be better, to look outside of the ‘to do’ list and day to day tasks is to STOP!

  • To facilitate conversations which create openness, constructive review, understanding of others challenges
  • To build and endorse collaborative behaviours
  • To create solutions together, which everyone buys into
  • To remind of the bigger picture the silo of their work hangs upon
  • To make the links between their list of tasks and the purpose of why they are doing it.

This is not internal comms, an update, or a team build.

It’s about considering simple, key questions on a regular basis, which will facilitate the above, such as:

  • What’s going well, what’s not going so well and what could we be doing differently?
  • Are we keeping our promises to our customers?
  • Where are we dropping the ball and why?
  • Do our ‘sales pitch’ promises match what we deliver further into the relationship?
  • What projects, what specific tasks, would require collaboration to deliver the best results?  (Carlos Valdes-Dapena used this question when improving collaborative working at Mars)

Culture is something that needs to become part of the material of a team – the invisible ingredients that everyone consumes without realising, but getting there and keeping it alive needs focus, attention, time and space.  Time to STOP!

An experienced facilitator can be extremely beneficial in enabling constructive conversations, honest dialogue and the building of trust and collaboration.

Lyn Paxman has over 20 years experience of facilitation, working with corporate leaders and teams. She helps teams to have better conversations, which lead to better decisions and better results.

Her facilitated Customer Journey Review is a powerful way of exploring whether promises to your customers are being kept further down the line. Contact Lyn on 07950 914328, lyn@evolveyou.co.uk 

The secret ingredient for everything you ever wanted..

What’s the secret to fulfilling, angst free relationships?

Natural, easy, bouncing out of bed every morning motivation?

Laser clear sense of direction?

Amazing focus, effectiveness and resilience?

Maybe some people just have ‘it’, an ingredient they were born with?  A silver spoon, or endless luck?

Maybe, but for most of us the essential ingredient is learning to learning – about yourself.

It’s about knowing who you are.  Your strengths, your weaknesses, your core desires and values.

This develops with reflection and attention.

It develops through exploring your interactions with others, failure, success, change.

It develops through being prepared to be challenged about your beliefs about how you see the world and the way you operate within it.

It evolves as your next action and interaction is influenced by what you now understand about yourself, with a new perspective.

It’s a journey which never ends, which leads to greater wisdom and satisfaction with life.

It enables you to fulfil aspirations, enhance your quality of life and satisfy your potential.

I guess this is why I’ve become a personal and corporate coach.  We live in a world which is constantly evolving, it’s in our DNA, it’s about making the process of self development conscious.  Becoming more aware of who we are and what we personally need to live a contented life.

For me this drive used to be to about wanting to progress in my career, impress my bosses, gain recognition.  Lately, it’s been about wanting smoother interactions with others, to deepen my understanding of myself, so I can create a life which meets my core desires and values.  Less about achievement and more about contentment.

Whatever the motivation I truly believe in the power of self-reflection and awareness.  It also helps to gain a different perspective and get some external input.  Otherwise we can end up gazing at our own navels and starting a loop of self-criticism.  I regularly attend courses, read a lot of ‘self-help’ and organisational development books, follow all sorts of different coaches on social media, watch films which challenge my opinions and have a variety of friends, who introduce me to new ways of thinking.

I see a therapist as I’m training to become a psychotherapist.  I talk through stuff that’s bugging me, patterns I’m noticing and frustrations.  I always gain a fresh perspective and new motivation to tackle a situation.  A coach is also a great sounding board, the difference being that a coach doesn’t ‘dig around’ in the deeper emotional stuff that will have developed our view of the world.  A coach will help you to re-frame a situation and then work with you to identify strategies for addressing.

Self reflection and increased self awareness, may not be the magic formula for the endless riches of our fantasies, but I believe it is the key to a richer, more fulfilling life.