Empower millennials with development programs that are suitedÂ to their strengths.
By Cheryl Allen
There is great value in using generational researchÂ to effectively inform people practices. The currentÂ workforce makeup of baby boomers, Generation X,Â millennials, and Generation Z is likely one of the mostÂ diversified in history. Each generation is equipped withÂ skills and knowledge based upon the environment theyÂ grew up in, and organizations are searching for them inÂ the current competitive business environment.
Organizations that learn to leverage the generation-drivenÂ people capabilities will have significantÂ advantages in almost every area of their business.Â Just think: Millennials are the next generation ofÂ leaders and they grew up as natives in a tech world.Â This digital competence translates to agility, flexibility,Â and collaboration, producing better results. In fact,Â these three traits are intangible success factors thatÂ many organizations aspire to and believe are marketÂ differentiators in overall organizational performance.
Millennials are now the largest generation in theÂ workforce. By the numbers, they are best able toÂ influence the organization in both leadership andÂ culture. HR can take advantage of this influenceÂ by providing learning and leadership developmentÂ opportunities and aligning them to company goals.Â Millennials can also act as ambassadors for culture andÂ employment branding, both internally and externally.Â This generation tends to seek environments thatÂ encourage agility, flexibility, collaboration, continuousÂ learning, global citizenship, and diversity, which are allÂ key factors for business success.
What should HR consider when empowering youngerÂ workers as managers? The following considerations willÂ have an impact on the development of leadership skills:
- Achievement motivation is based on quick results soÂ training will need to counterbalance the value of time toÂ evolve concepts.
- The tendency to challenge the status quo willÂ encourage training styles that focus on productive waysÂ to do just that, but acknowledging when that approachÂ may be ineffective will be essential.
- Tech savviness will influence a more knowledge-basedÂ managerial style.
- The desire to continuously add skills will drive trainingÂ approaches that are nimble and can retain attention.
Management development programs designed forÂ volume efficiencyâsuch as classes and online programsÂ that are heavily driven by pre-designed content, andÂ social or group activitiesâwill not work. OrganizationsÂ need to focus on aligning learning and developmentÂ with tech savviness, independence, social responsibility,Â and a desire for career growth and achievementÂ orientation.
Millennials are born entrepreneurs and can produceÂ just about anything on their own by using technologyÂ that is readily available. They seek to continuously addÂ skills to their repertoire and have more access to dataÂ and information than any generation before. They areÂ programmed to challenge the status quo; however, theyÂ may not have the interpersonal communication skills toÂ consistently do so well. Development programs, careerÂ assignments, and special projects should align to theseÂ traits. For example:
- As knowledge-based learners and managers, makeÂ information readily available to millennials throughÂ subscriptions, subject-matter experts, and onlineÂ resource tools.
- Help build project management and planning skills toÂ counterbalance tendencies to focus on quick results.
- Give them complex project opportunities to buildÂ critical-thinking skills in order to challenge the statusÂ quo and leverage their social values.
- Complement skills development with real-timeÂ feedback and coaching around communicationÂ opportunities.
HR can actually simplify traditional developmentÂ programs by using more agile, experiential learning. InÂ the case of developing the tech-savvy millennials, lessÂ truly can be more, and smarter development activitiesÂ are definitely better than harder.
Cheryl Allen, ACC, GPHR, SPHR is vice president of HR and talentÂ management at Kaplan Professional.