How to Create Millennial Leaders in Your Organization

Guest post from Dan Schawbel:

Companies of all sizes have a new generation that’s quickly rising up the ranks. 15 percent of Millennials, also referred to Generation Y, are already managers. These workers are born between 1982 and 1993, making them students and young professionals. Millennials are often misunderstood and are positioned in the media as being lazy, entitled and narcissistic. The reality is that most executives just don’t understand them. They have different expectations, a new mindset and are very tech driven. It’s imperative that corporations start taking this generation seriously because they will become 75 percent of the global workforce by 2025.

One of the biggest priorities for executives right now is succession planning. They are struggling to retain millennial employees and grow them into the next generation of leaders. Millennials have a tenure of only two years compared to that of baby boomers at seven years. By understanding how millennials operate and managing them properly, you can retain them and set them up for leadership success. Here are a few tips on how to go about doing that:

1. Clear your mind from stereotypes. In a new study I worked on with American Express, we found that managers have a negative view of millennials. Managers feel that their millennial employees have unrealistic salary/compensation expectations (51%), a poor work ethic (47%), and are easily distracted (46%). Instead of brushing those stereotypes off on your millennials, have an open mind, look past them and give them each a chance. Of course, some will play into the stereotypes but many won’t and you have to respect them instead of single them out.

2. Give them constant feedback. Many organizations don’t offer an annual performance review and most don’t even offer a quarterly one, based on our new research. Millennials desire immediately feedback and if they don’t receive it, they aren’t as engaged. Make sure that after each project they finish, you are telling them what they are doing right and what they can improve on. Don’t wait for months or even a year to help them because they see you as their mentor, advisor and even “work” parent.

3. Be transparent with them. Millennials don’t keep secrets. They talk about their salaries with one another and they want others to be open with them. If you want to grow your millennial leaders, you have to involve them in as many discussions as possible. If something isn’t going right at your company, don’t hide it from them. Millennials don’t trust CEOs and politicians because of the economic crisis that they endured. It’s your job to gain their trust with honesty.

4. Be role models for them. They look up to the current leaders in their company. We found they perceive their managers as wise and willing to mentor. Be a great role model for them by showing, not just telling. Show them how you deal with other people in the organization and let them shadow you. Give them career advice on how to succeed in your organization and tell them your story of how you got to where you are. As a leader, you should seek to inspire them to want to also become a leader.

Dan Schawbel is a Gen Y career and workplace expert, the Founder of Millennial
Branding and the author of
Promote Yourself: The New Rules For Career Success (St. Martin’s Press).