The Time is Now: Preparing for Millennial Leadership

March 22, 2016
| ByMadison

“Many millennials want to make the world a better place, and the future of work lies in inspiring them.” Fast Company.

Imagine an office where your manager glides into a conference room on a hover-board to conduct an impromptu meeting; where colleagues exchange ideas via Snapchat; where ad hoc announcements are made via megaphone across an open, collaborative space. If you don’t relate to this example of fast-paced, socially driven office culture, then you might want to consider preparing for it now because Millennial leadership is on the horizon.

Generally, when we talk about Millennials, the generation born between 1977 and 1997, the discussion centers around how to manage them, and identifying what their needs are as employees. However as a recent article in The New York Times indicates, it’s Millennial leadership that we need to be paying close attention to as well.

For example, we know there’s no such thing as too much praise when it comes to recognizing this group. We also know they are constantly weighing and re-evaluating their own sense of “fit” within a company through the lenses of peers. When you connect these two points, the solution to grooming and nurturing Millennials comes down to this: establishing a culture built upon a foundation of social connectedness where individuals feel as though they are part of driving the organization’s mission; have autonomy in contributing to that mission; and are recognized frequently for their part in doing so. Simple right?

As Chris Altcheck, the 28-year old CEO of news website Mic, reveals in the article, it’s not always so simple. “It helps us to have everyone speak out and best ideas rise to the top,” he said. “What that can feel like or sound like is rudeness. But I’d rather have a lot of people speaking their minds than a very controlled environment.”

On the flip side, Altcheck shares anecdotes of public insubordination where employees call out managers in front of others, and examples of oversharing on social media, sometimes blurring the lines between personal and professional.

While the media tends to focus on such acts of defiance associated with Millennials, it’s important to also acknowledge and praise this generation for their mission-focused approach to work. This is why social recognition is essential in transforming negative behaviors in the workplace. In recognizing and rewarding the behaviors of the mission-focused group for their dedicated approach and accomplishments, you build a culture of respect and success throughout the workforce, which sends a clear message to the defiant group mentioned above.

In 2015, Millennials surpassed Generation X as the largest group in the workforce, and they had already edged out Baby Boomers. Based on the numbers, they will be our CEOs and VPs sooner than later. In some companies, they already are. While their fast-paced, socially driven way of working might be different from yours, building a healthy and happy performance driven culture should be the universal goal. Teaching our future leaders by example means putting your social recognition program into practice today.

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