I recently insulted a hockey-sock* worth of consultants when I called inter-generational leadership horse manure.
There was a point where I questioned if there are any advantages to being a Millennial in today’s world. Stereotypes portrayed them as entitled, lazy, and idealistic. Despite that, Millennials, Gen-Y, Gen-X and soon enough Gen-Z will be running your companies & organizations before you know it.
Are you ready?
Are your preparing these bight & shiny employees to be your company’s future leaders?
Do you remember being 20-something?
We all had big dreams of how life and our career would unfold. For me it was many years ago, but there was no question in my mind that I would rise in my leadership responsibilities, and lead an organization that will be unique and achieve great things.
That said, I am 100% certain that my old bosses thought I was a cocky little pipsqueak, wanting more, excessively eager and not wanting to pay my dues.
Sound familiar to the conversations happening at work today?
Millennial’s through to the Gen Z’s have, each in turn, been declared the “ME, ME, ME” generation, the impatient generation, the over-connected generation, and much more. The only reason Baby-Boomers like me weren’t connected to the Internet was because it was science fiction.
As far as entitlement goes … I wanted the corner office so bad my teeth ached.
Wanting is good.
Wanting is what pushes us to develop more, achieve more, and create more. So if there are people in your organization that want to develop, create and achieve more, ask yourself this: what are you doing to give your younger employees more? Are you preparing them to LEAD your company?
Here are 9 actions to do to engage, retain, and develop your high-potential employees to do more… regardless of the generation:
1. Make the case. Begin by educating everyone about the importance of developing your high-potential employees. Getting buy-in from all groups will ensure everyone’s commitment to components of the high-potential development initiatives moving forward –
Action: Host a lunch and learn on the topics that are changing the work landscape to help everyone understand.
2. Recognize high-potential employees. Let the high-potential employees know they are high potential. Tell them so they realize their long-term impact on the company.
Action: Have the CEO or a respected leader meet the high-potential employees over lunch.
3. Big picture. Growing up, younger generations asked their parents and teachers “why?” and they got answers other than “Because I said so.” So, they genuinely want to know the reasoning behind why things are the way they are at work. This is not an entitlement.
Action: Everyone wants to make an impact, take the time to show them how their projects, responsibilities, and future roles tie into the big picture.
4. Provide a map. It is an expectation of your people to be fulfilled and challenged in their career, so it is important to show them the career path options that are available to keep them engaged.
Action: Ask your high-potential employees where they would like to be long term, tell them exactly how they can get there so they can see the options that are available and that there is and organizational commitment to their goals.
5. Emphasize “soft” business skills. Soft skills are critical to workplace success and many are ill prepared to make the transition into your workforce. Business etiquette, writing, initiative, time management, and conflict management are all incredibly important—yet these things are seldom taught in college.
Action: Make “business etiquette” a component of your development and training initiatives.
6. Provide experiences. Encourage your high potential people to take on new projects and responsibilities, and don’t be afraid to give them an assignment that will stretch their potential.
Action: Allow your high-potential employees to shadow someone else in the company to gain exposure to a different aspect of the business and encourage them to join industry and professional organizations.
7. Invest. The long-term success of your organization lies entirely in the hands of your high-potential employees. It is up to you to make an investment in their development now because you can’t afford to ignore investments in your most important asset: your people.
Action: Offer at least one training session per quarter, and institute lunch and learns or roundtables to build on what the training session covered.
8. Mentor. Give your high-potential employees someone to look up to so they know and trust authority.
Action: Encourage a culture where casual coaching and conversations are an everyday occurrence up and down the hierarchies of your organization.
9. Feedback and recognition. Younger team members should have an air of confidence, but this doesn’t mean they don’t want to improve. Tell them how they’re doing—often. People want to learn, grow, and develop. Encourage managers to be open, honest, and direct and share their management philosophy and style.
Action: Challenge your managers to sit down with direct reports once a month to deliver (and receive!) performance feedback.