We are all driven to gain deeper insights into who we are, why we work the way we do and, ultimately, how we can improve. An insatiable desire to survive and achieve is what makes us human and forces us to constantly take stock of our wellbeing.
As an entrepreneur, I take the same approach to predicting and understanding the health of my companies as I do to predicting and understanding my physical health; I look for patterns, I consult with outside specialists, communicate, and I’m not afraid to try new solutions.
What makes mapping out a business’ health more complicated than my own is taking into account the distinguishing qualities and motivations of each of my employees. Yes, we may all be working toward a similar goal, but how we get there, and why we want to get there is, often, wildly different.
But it is my job as a leader to invest the time and energy in structuring a company culture and workplace operations that best set the collective team up for success. Gone are the days when leaders could assume that every employee would assimilate into a predetermined role and structure, and succeed without question. Millennials and Gen Z-ers entering the workforce have brought generational differences in behaviors and perspectives into the spotlight and employers have two choices: they can either ignore these varying characteristics, and ultimately work against their employees, or they can acknowledge and support them, and better position the company, as a whole, for success.
Find Common Threads
There’s a reason why it seems like every How to Reach Millennials article seems the same; individuals within this generation exhibit like-minded behavior and brands have picked up on it. Taking the time to understand how your current millennial and Gen Z employees work, think, and interact on a daily basis will help you gain a better idea of the working styles of new, young professionals you bring on board. Additionally, I find that simply taking the time to talk to my employees, including interns and entry-level team members, allows me to better understand how they view a role, what they want it, and which company expectations they have.
In over 16 years of launching and scaling companies, I have found communication to be the most significant determining factor of success. How well a company does is a direct reflection of its employees, and how well employees do their jobs is a direct reflection of communication. Even if you know that the Gen Z-ers on your team are more self-motivated and require less hand-holding than the millennials, you still have to communicate every company update and progress in equal measure. Individuals, especially younger individuals, are empowered by transparency and inclusion; when an employee understands the expectations of everyone in the business they feel held to a higher sense of accountability and more motivated to show up for their coworkers.
Things change: new technologies launch, audiences come and go as they please, and the only steadfast facet of running a company is the notion that status quo does not exist. Investing time and resources into understanding how people in, and outside, the company are shifting and evolving is the only way to ensure your brand doesn’t fall behind by five years in five days. When you, as a leader, communicate how facets of the business are changing and why they’re changing, it gives your employees the chance to also process and adapt themselves.
Every individual regardless of age or experience shares predictable DNA patterns; we all want to succeed, but we want to do so in the easiest, most efficient way possible. By taking the time to understand the working mindsets and preferences of each of my team, I’m able to create a working environment that fosters their working patterns and sets us all on a path to success.