3.4.16 Issue #730 info@mckenziemgmt.com 1-877-777-6151 Forward This Newsletter

Jonathan Gale, Ph.D.
Leadership Coach
McKenzie Management
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Leading Millennials
By Jonathan Gale, Ph.D.

Have you noticed that the needs and mentalities of your staff have changed over the years? What you are observing, and is likely causing you a certain degree of frustration, is the changing of the ‘guard’ from Baby Boomers to their children – the Millennials. Since the Boomer generation was so large, there are relatively few Gen Xers in the workplace compared to the newer, larger wave of Millennials. And with this influx of younger workers, employers, managers and leaders are having to adopt their style to effectively engage these workers and draw out their potential. As you will read next, and as contrary as it might seem, the best approach seems to involve more leadership and less management of these individuals.

This should ideally give you a sigh of relief, as once one has developed the skill set, leading people is actually much easier than managing them. Millennials are a unique group; they want to do well, but they want freedom to try new jobs. They care about mobility and their happiness, including work-life balance. They simply cannot be managed the way other generations have been managed. They must be inspired and enabled through BRAVE leadership.

The BRAVE leadership framework is comprised of Behaviors, Relationships, Attitudes, Values and the Environment, building those from the outside in through context, purpose, strategy, message and implementation. Applying those to Millennials is most easily framed if we go through each component in reverse order:

Environment – Context
Millennials, born after 1980 and before 2000, are children of Baby Boomers. Their parents doted on them, heaping them with praise and building up their own sense of self-worth. Their childhoods were filled with structured activities, and while people from all generations have certainly been provided structure, the Millennials are the first for whom the majority experienced this sort of upbringing. In addition, they had access to the Internet from a young age, which provided them with information , resources and interconnectedness not nearly as easily attainable for any of the previous generations. What exists on the Internet, however, is a raw, unfiltered, incomplete flood that needs to be assessed and merged with experience and skills to be practically useful. Not all Millennials have had the experiences or mastered the skills yet.

Values – Purpose
Happiness is good. Actually it is found in the pursuit of three goods: good for others, good at it and good for me. Amy Gutmann, The University of Pennsylvania’s President, explained that Millennials are “primed to do well by doing good.” For Millennials, work must have meaning. They won’t commit to you or to the practice. They will commit to a meaningful, good-for-others cause.

Attitude – Strategy
As About.com’s Susan Heathfield stated, many Millennials “have a wonderful ‘can-do’ attitude, and positive personal self-image.” This can be utilized to everyone’s advantage by encouraging them, being careful neither to squash their ambitions nor put up artificial boundaries.

For Millennials, the line between work and personal time is one such artificial boundary. As one student remarked at a CEO Connection Forum on Managing Millennials, “What I do is incredibly convergent with who I am.”  It makes no more sense to them for you to worry about their doing personal emails and texts during “work” time than for them to worry about doing work emails and texts on their “personal” time. There is no work time. There is no personal time. There is no work/life balance. There’s just life.

Relationships – Message
Any communication with Millennials must be wrapped in respect. You must say you respect them. You must act with respect. You must truly respect them. In general, they deserve your respect. They have knowledge and skills from which other generations can learn.

Carlson COO David Berg gets this. He has set up a reverse mentoring program so that his Millennial employees can mentor him to help him understand future guests.

Behavior – Implementation
Blur the lines. Blur the lines between you and them, between work and personal, between individual and group, between face-to-face and electronic, between inspiring and enabling.

You and them. Treat Millennials with the same respect with which you want them to treat you. Give them access to information. Forget “need to know” limitations. They hunger to know what’s going on and how their jobs fit into the organization’s purpose – which should have a component that betters the world.

Work and personal. Get over this historical divide. The two blur for Millennials. Accept it; embrace it.

Individual and group. Leverage Millennials’ bias to work in networked teams. Encourage and applaud their joint efforts.

Face-to-face and electronic. Leverage and let them leverage the electronic tools with which they are so familiar. Text and chat are as valid forms of communication for this generation as were PowerPoint slides in darkened rooms for Baby Boomers.

Inspiring and enabling. Leadership is about inspiring and enabling others. For Millennials, enabling is inspiring. Do both. And do both together.

Dr. Gale provides coaching and training to enhance leadership skills, interpersonal communications and team building. If you would like to learn more, contact him at jgalephd@mckenziemgmt.com

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