The workforce and ways of working are in the midst of an epic transition. By 2020, millennials will comprise 46 percent of the workforce, which creates an unusual “barbell” of late-retiring boomers and more digital savvy young people. Rarely is it necessary to work opposite ends of a spectrum at the same time, but it’s essential now. Add in the challenges of retaining talent, and it’s imperative for leaders and managers to be more aware and more skillful.
If your organization is transforming markets or transforming itself, millennials can be a tremendous boon. In general, they bring four transformative attitudes and attributes to the workforce: They are 1) digitally savvy, 2) ready for change, 3) mission focused, and 4) transparency biased. What’s more, 29 percent of entrepreneurs today are millennials, so engage them in building your business or they’ll build their own.
Having said that, their fresh ideas and attitudes don’t always come with operating experience or high self awareness. High energy and low experience can frustrate more seasoned and efficient colleagues. To tap the full skill set and mindshare of your mixed workforce to increase your business’s agility and accelerate results and digital transformation, you’ll likely need more agile management approaches and new communication tools – your management approach shouldn’t be older than the people you manage! In this slideshow, Deidre Paknad, CEO of Workboard, has identified tips that can help you engage and enable today’s workforce.
Tune Your Management Approach to Your Workforce
Click through for tips organizations can use to better manage a widely divergent workforce, as identified by Deidre Paknad, CEO of Workboard.
Define Clear, Short-Range Objectives and Key Results
Help junior and more experienced teams work more effectively together by defining what short-term success is for the team. Ask yourself and your team this: In the next 90 days, how will we be successful and what is the definition of success? By giving everyone clarity and eliminating assumptions and guess work, you build trust and confidence, enable people to prioritize actions, and set the team up for success. You’ll be amazed at how much more relaxed, collaborative and effective people are when the criteria for success are well understood. New web and mobile apps like Workboard make objectives, key results and progress transparent to everyone – something your millennials expect, and seasoned workers need, to stay focused on results.
Create Learning Pairs or Partners
Pair people with diverse experiences or levels as partners for a quarter at a time. This model is similar to mentoring, but has a higher expectation of mutual learning benefits. App-smart and digitally savvy young workers boost the speed and understanding of less digital peers; more seasoned practitioners can guide new hires on domain topics and skills. UX and pre-sales people can bring more customer-centricity to developers, and development nuances can better arm pre-sales people for customer dialogues. Context grows, relationships get stronger and the whole team gets smarter with this proactive and partnership model.
Expect and Provide Transparency
Millennials expect to give and get transparency and this is a powerful positive shift for the organization. They’re likely to be dismayed if the organization communicates goals and status monthly or quarterly or requires meetings to get status. As a group, they grew up with instant access to vast amounts of information they tapped into anytime – they want that at work, too (and who doesn’t?). Because they presume and provide transparency, use their transparency bias to move to a push model for information instead of a pull model; rather than a fight, transparency will become a constant.
Make Feedback and Recognition the Norm
Over 70 percent of employees think their performance would improve with more feedback and most say recognition is more rewarding than cash. One size doesn’t fit all — tune feedback to career stage, personality, skill levels, circumstances and age to make it most effective. While 70 percent of young employees’ learning happens on the job, they benefit most from strength-based feedback; tell them what they’re doing right as they experiment without experience. Older employees tend to want more feedback than their younger counterparts and prefer more candid, constructive feedback on building skills and their growth opportunities. In either case, forget the “feedback sandwich” and don’t skimp on positive feedback.
Bring People Together and Set the Tone for Trust
When teams have diverse perspectives and experience levels, it often means people don’t have much in common with each other. Create opportunities for people to build relationships and trust, and the ability to confidently communicate with each other. These are essential to high-performing teams – but they rarely happen spontaneously or naturally when there is high diversity. When the organization’s leaders demonstrate inclusion and communicate well, their teams follow suit.
Diversity of employee experience and contexts improves companies, products and customer experience. Rarely do the best results flow from consensus without challenge or debate. For organizations transforming themselves, the combination of long-tenure experienced workers and digitally savvy employees less committed to status quo or legacy process makes effective change possible. While it requires leaders to span, consider and balance that diversity continuously, that’s all part of agile, effective leadership.