How to Lead Your Team Of Millennials, As Told By A Millennial

Deconstructing what our future leaders are looking for.

Daniel Whalen
Jun 1, 2018 · 4 min read

It’s becoming clear Millennials’ general perception about their workplaces in headed in the wrong direction. According to Deloitte’s 2018 Millennial Survey, Millennials downshifted nearly 20 percent in their feelings toward their businesses’ ethics and societal contribution this past year (48 percent compared to 65 percent in 2017). Given that Millennials will make up 75 percent of workplace leadership by 2025, it’s critical this communication piece gets nailed down before it’s too late.

As a Millennial leader with a Millennial workforce, I’ve both witnessed and committed every mistake in the book when it comes to team building and culture development. Now that we find ourselves with the highest per-territory revenue of a 100+ location franchise system, it’s clear we’ve put many of those developmental struggles behind us — sharing with you, our biggest takeaways.

Life Skills For The Win

In today’s fast-paced society, many people — most notably, millennials — are squarely focused on trying to get someplace else. The dream job they hope to attain. The home they’re aiming to purchase. The retirement they’re cognizant to save for. It’s one stepping stone to the next.

Unfortunately, this doesn’t make for a very fulfilling life experience. Millennials care deeply about purpose (60 percent say this plays a role in choosing their employer) because they care deeply about making life work for them, extracting as much meaning as possible. The focus in the workplace is currently on developing skills they can bring with them to their next job, yet only 29 percent claim to be actively engaged. The difference can be made up in focusing on the life skills they never received in college, such as managing their emotions and their relationship with fear.

Skill-building is a great perk of a job for a millennial, but these skills need to be distinct enough to make the difference. It’s highly unlikely their job will hold precedent over their life, so why not leverage it as an opportunity instead of force-feeding more company values down their throat? Without the people, there is no organization. It’s time we recognized this for what it is.

Leadership Is Still Scarce

In a survey of over 7,700 Millennials from 29 countries, 63% claimed they felt their leadership skills weren’t being fully developed. I’d chalk this up to businesses being too focused on traditional succession plans and less concerned with helping employees reach the top of their game.

Leadership doesn’t have to revolve around leading a team of thirty-plus to produce exponential year-over-year growth. Developing one’s leadership is essentially helping them create a clear vision, deal powerfully with conflict when it arises, and live life on their terms. It’s inspiring others to cause expanded results, taking full responsibility, honoring your word, and keeping a wide open mind for possibility. Who wouldn’t want everyone in their organization to think this way?

Making a point to identify the team members who may not be cut out for leading a team or department but still wish to grow in their leadership skills cannot be overlooked. Growth and contribution are king when it comes to workplace fulfillment — something leadership development can cause on its own volition.

In-The-Moment Acknowledgement

Generational gaps in the workplace bring about all kinds of interesting opportunities. Given that the average Millennial employee is looking for purpose in their work, there’s no greater purpose notification than genuine, authentic acknowledgement.

Far too often, praise and recognition gets convoluted as a check of the box. It’s viewed as a strategy instead of an emotional exchange. Millennials yearn for significance, and there’s an opportunity to gift it to them every day by staying in the moment and finding an area where they’re excelling — either on the job or as a person.

Highlighting the positive simplicities of a person’s behavior makes them want to work that much harder to produce the breakthrough results. And the great thing about Millennials is their word travels fast, spreading hope and excitement throughout the organization like wildfire.

The person who generates the greatest results from a team of Millennials has less to do with what they do and far more to do with who they are. These three points of emphasis can transform an organization for the better if applied with a keen sense of compassion and understanding for where the team members are at in their level of self-awareness.

As the late French poet Antoine de Saint-Exupery so elegantly put it,

“Love is not just looking at each other, it’s looking in the same direction.”

Your Pathway to The Life You Love Is Here

Your breakdowns are your breakthroughs. Read more of my stories here, visit my website, or follow me on Twitter.

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