Are you really prepared for millennials and beyond?
Each year, the workplace grows increasingly more complex. Perhaps one of the toughest hurdles for established leadership is navigating through generational differences. While the workforce continues to get younger, the ability to close the generational gap has become one of the most critical leadership skills for any organizational context.
Admittedly, the topics of generational i.q. and collaboration can truly seem intimidating or even overwhelming to those seeking better understanding. It's easy for us to get caught up in all of the intricate differences and preferences between generations. We need to keep in mind, however, some key truths about generations and working with others.
Truth Bomb #1 - Everyone is Different...and Then Some!
It's truly impossible to categorize thousands, let alone millions, of people. There will always be exceptions to the rule because people are highly complex. There are a plethora of other factors that play into our workplace behavior and values. These factors include: demographics, upbringing, personality, interests, etc. The danger of labels, categories, and generational profiles is that we might start pigeonholing our team members or employees.
Truth Bomb #2 - People Pleasing is Unsatisfying, Unrealistic, and Unsustainable!
While those who try to people please have great hearts and great intentions, they run the highest risk of burnout. That's not counting how many bad decisions will be made in thew wake of the process. Being able to please all generations at once and in the same context is completely impossible. So avoid the heartache now and think through smarter strategy.
So where do you begin?
While there is an increase of valuable resources and research surfacing, I would suggest the easiest place to start is purpose. If you can help the younger generation of leaders understand the power, importance, and meaning of their work...you will never have a shortage of high quality next generation leaders!
Below are some simple actionable items I'd highly recommend you implement in your organization.
Action Item #1 - Clearly Articulate the 'Why' of Your Organization.
The next generation leaders want to know that their work is making a difference. Gone are the days of people just wanting a 'good old 9-5.' Instead, younger workers are looking for opportunities to leave a rich legacy. Our younger generations are more globabally-minded than ever before. They are also more globablly-connected than ever before.
Being able to decipher the cause of your business in terms of its intended legacy, reach, and impact is a critical skill that leaders must have if they are going to attract and keep younger workers. I highly recommend you read Simon Sinek's book, "Start with Why". He clearly lays out the research as well as steps you can undergo to provide more clarity for your organization (and in a compelling manner).
Action Item #2 - Tell Your Story.
Facts come and go but stories last forever! We are in the age of platforms. Everyone has access to resources used to share their voice, expressions, and stories with the world. Stories stick. That's why the majority of marketing strategies have shifted in recent years. Billboards are nice...stories are nicer. Stories centralize communities. They inspire people. They help plant ideas. They help hold us accountable.
Every great leader needs to tell his or her personal story. How did they end up in their leadership position? What are their passions? What do they hope to achieve? Believe it or not, your younger team-members care! Every great organization needs to tell its story as well. How did it come into existence? On what values was it formed? What does it hope to achieve in the long run? Answering questions like these in a narrative format is a surefire way to engage the next gen!
Action Item #3 - Give Opportunities for Others to Express Alignment.
Since it's the age of the platform, great leaders can give opportunities here and there for their employees/team-members to share their unique voices. But I will give some caution - if done poorly, a platform can become a firing squad. Wild voices can spread like wild fire! However, if done correctly, a platform can become edifying and encouraging for everyone associated with your organization.
If you provide opportunities for others to share their voice, give them some guidance or parameters. Help them discover alignment between their personal values and those of the organization. Ask them to plan and share how they express alignment in their specific role.
Bridging the generational gap certainly has it's challenges. But remember, the most important place to start is purpose.
Purpose is your compass to greatness!
Lead well friends!
Join the conversation