The Millennial Workforce: Time to Embrace Change (article)
Have you found yourself perplexed by your millennial employees? Even millennial leaders have admitted noticing some unique qualities of their counterparts that can be confusing and sometimes lead to negative perceptions. However, those negative perceptions likely derive from a place inside ourselves that still does things (and expects things to remain) “the way we have always done it.”
Challenging Our Mindset
As we transition to more millennials in the workforce, many of whom are becoming our new leaders, it is important to truly challenge ourselves to change our mindset. Business leaders, managers and HR professionals must take a new perspective, which can start by asking the following questions:
- How can I update my approach to training and onboarding to provide more relevant information so that my employees can better understand their jobs?
- How do I continue education beyond millennials’ first days in our organization? How do I engage them to own that development?
2. Workplace Presence
- Should I alter my own attire?
- What persona do I portray? Could my suit make it seem I’m not flexible or approachable?
- Could I be distancing myself from my team?
3. Work-Life Balance
- If I challenge myself to find work-life balance, could I be a better leader and role model for my team?
- Could all my employees find this balance?
- Could our workplace environment be improved to make this more possible?
4. Leadership Style
- What’s not working in our organization and/or our leadership?
- What drives our employees and makes them want to work for us?
- How can we express our appreciation in a way they will feel and appreciate?
- Everyone has a choice, so how does our business become the best/right choice for our people?
Putting It into Action
Once we have reframed our thinking to something we can actually accomplish – changing ourselves instead of the entire millennial population – we can put this into action by shaking up some of the most ingrained processes, which often are the oldest, most outdated and least impactful.
This doesn’t mean everyone should throw out everything core to their personnel practices. However, it does mean we should build a plan to transform and revitalize our approach. Through focus groups, exit interviews and everyday conversation, identify key areas for change. (Remember: You may not always agree with the change.) Here are some common areas for improvement:
- Dress code
- Vacation time
- Office space/events
- Performance reviews/feedback process
Planning & Prioritizing
From here, take the same approach often used in operational changes – a well-written plan with some trial and error expected. Traditionally, people view such changes as either 0 or 100%, forgetting there are gradations and options. The in-between can help get momentum in the right direction without having to jump too far ahead. Little steps can go a long way.
Lastly, prioritization of change is essential to a successful transition. Too much change in an organization at once can lead to chaos even when all the change is good. Therefore, it is important to prioritize and focus. To do so consider the following:
- What other changes are occurring in the business (e.g., personnel, operations, etc.)?
- What can quickly and easily change without too much invested time and risk?
- What will most drastically improve my employees’ experience?
In general, millennials are much needed change in today’s organizations. Let’s positively embrace this generation, moving forward and upward!