Leading Millennials: Meaningful Experiences

The oldest of the Millennials is 30 now, and are beginning to enter middle management and/or professional positions. As the Millennials grow in prominence and influence in the workforce, leading them will require new and adapted strategies to harness their influence and talents.

Millennials want to join a crusade, not a company. They view organizational structure as a tapestry, not a hierarchy. Traditionally, employees asked “What role do I fulfill as I work in this company?” Millennials ask, “What role will the company play in my life story?” If the organization is willing to invest into their life story, then dedication to that company will follow. Dedication and engagement is earned, not a given.

Millennials may forego a higher salary to participate in an organization or endeavour that will be meaningful to them. After all, their social network will bail them out even if they do need help. They won’t stay a at a job for monetary reasons only. Values, history and mission are important to the Millennials. They are more than just words on a page. If they are truly lived, and are congruent with the person, it will make a difference.

Bottom line: Organizations that do not provide meaningful experiences to their Millennial employees will lose them. Organizations that provide those at their organization, or who support their employees to find them elsewhere (ie. volunteer opportunities), will be able to retain Millennials.

Over the next while I will be posting excerpts of a presentation on Millennials by David Burkus and myself at the April 2011 Human Resources Institute of Alberta (HRIA) Conference in Edmonton, Alberta.

Burkus, D. (2010). Developing the next generation of leaders: How to engage Millennials in the workplace. Leadership Advance Online, 14. Download here.

One thought on “Leading Millennials: Meaningful Experiences

  1. ……………………Written by Doctor John McFerran……………Saturday 14 August 2010 00 00…….Now that Generation Y also known as Millennials is coming on in droves in the workplace leaders need to know what it takes to make their younger employees feel engaged in the organizations they will eventually inherit.To put it into some perspective Millennials those born between 1981-1999 grew up in a globally-connected world and have known only non-stop access to digital information games music and mail.Some other ways they differ from previous generations of workers As future leaders Millennials bring a lot of optimism energy and positive qualities into the workplace.They are not tied down by nostalgia or a longing for simpler times because quite simply they never knew one.Growing up in a complex world has allowed them to intuitively understand that the planet is made up of interconnecting networks between cultures societies and economies.Having been nurtured in a digital borderless environment Millennials are respectful of their shared communities and their responsibility as global citizens.This has given them a high moral compass evident by the way they take immediate action and demand accountability in times of crisis from the Haiti earthquake to the Gulf Coast oil spill.Todays leaders must recognize understand and to a certain extent harness these fantastic attitudes and attributes so that when the time comes they can help their Gen Y employees prepare to step into managerial positions.Here are some ways to meet their expectations while fostering the younger generations natural leadership abilities — With reporting by Barbara ChabaiJohn McFerran Ph.D F.CHRP is founder and vice president of executive recruiting with People First HR Services Ltd.

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