How to Leverage Millennials In Your Organization


How to Leverage Millennials In Your Organization

Millennials can keep your business from stagnating. Baby Boomer CEOs are starting to catch on. Here are my thoughts on how you can become or maintaining a positive culture.

I love getting the chance to talk to people who have revolutionized something in their field. Those people who come up with an actual game-changer in the business world. That’s one reason why I was looking forward to interviewing Green Rope Founder and CEO Lars Helgeson for Episode 17 of the Podcast Series. I’d had the opportunity to speak with Lars once before, and I knew he’d be interview gold. My hunch was 100 percent correct! In the podcast, Lars talks about his experiences in creating the first CRM email marketing system way back in 2000. He also covers working with Elon Musk and his commitment to maintaining a “start-up culture” within his now 17-year-old organization. It’s great stuff and if you haven’t given it a listen, definitely make sure that you do!

Leverage Millenial employees’ fresh thinking

Talking with Lars got me thinking about was how easy it can be for an organization’s culture to stagnate. Resource-heavy large corporations may be able to slog onward while many companies are going to struggle more and more. Lars brings up the slow death of traditional retail, and the rise of Amazon, as an example of adapt-or-die in our current economic climate. Lars notes that Baby Boomer CEOs should leverage the fresh thinking of their Millennial employees toward promoting a forward-facing culture.

Baby Boomer managers aren’t always used to the way that Millennials think, work and communicate. Millennials are quite different from what older generations have grown up with. This leads to a lot of potentially great, fresh ideas going to waste because they never reach you, as a CEO. Here are some of my thoughts on how Baby Boomer managers can get the most of their Millennial employees’ creativity and free-thinking consequently increasing top talent retention:

Focus on the product, not so much the process.

Millennials are a generation that’s all about flexibility. They have been hooked up to the Internet since basically birth and are interested in doing some of their work out of the office. They are consummate multitaskers, working on several projects simultaneously. Avoid micromanaging Millennials. Give them the freedom to solve a problem in their own way. Tell them what you want to be accomplished, and give them an opportunity to accomplish it their own way. You may be impressed and surprised with the innovative solution with which they’ll return the favor.    

Look for natural learning and teaching opportunities for Millennials.

Millennials went through an education system that provided a lot more feedback than what previous generations experienced. In an era of texting and social media, they are used to getting almost instantaneous reactions to their ideas. The old-school schedule of biannual reviews and monthly meetings don’t mesh with a Millennial’s learning style. A better idea: look for informal mentoring opportunities as they arise naturally. Give positive feedback on a recent project or problem solved, along with ideas on how they can take it to the next level next time.

Prioritize ideas over hierarchy with your Millennial employees.

One of the quickest ways to stomp out a Millennial employee’s creativity – or to drive them out – is to strictly enforce a hierarchy of communication within your organization. Going back to the post-WWII workplace culture that still persists in many companies, there’s a hesitancy with older workers to “jump the chain of command.” Millennials, on the other hand, have a meritocratic attitude that is actually quite refreshing. Make it clear to your employees that you welcome input and ideas from everyone. And make sure you stand by that statement.

Millennials have a reputation in the workforce for being impatient, and maybe there is truth in that. But that same impatience is often what inspires those lightning-quick ideas on how to do something better, instead of plodding along under the weight of “how it’s always been.” So, be patient with your Millennial employees, and take a chance now and then on letting your promising Millennials surprise you.

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