Millennials Are Raising The Bar For Leaders

6 min read · 7 years ago


We’ve heard plenty of managers gripe about the entitled Millennials and the impact they’re having on the workforce. But before I get to that, let’s start with some statistics. Millennials (18-34 years old) currently make up 36 percent of the workforce according to research from the University of North Carolina. This research also predicts that by 2020, 46 percent of the workforce will be comprised of Millennials. For many of our clients in retail financial services, their Millennials already exceeds 50 percent of their workforce. Regardless of how you feel about this young generation, they’re not going anywhere.

There has been a lot of negative press about the Millennial generation in regards to who they really are and the impact they have on the workplace. Countless articles have tried to nail down how the Millennials are different, and many of the articles are non-too flattering. But, when it comes down to it, Millennials are looking for the same things all the other generations are in terms of their jobs and their leadership. The key difference, however, lies in their willingness to leave a job or leader that doesn’t meet their standards. Their age, their level of education, and an improving economy give Millennials plenty of options, and they know it. They are looking for great leadership, and they are looking to make a difference with their work.

Here are some of the most prevalent millennial misconceptions we’ve encountered:

Millennials are lazy

There are employees from every generation who need lots of management and hand-holding to maintain accountability and achieve the desired results. Millennials are not the first generation, and they certainly won’t be the last, to enter the workforce and need more of a leader’s time. Yes, some Millennials are lazy. But, just like we have baby boomers on our team who think like owners and are willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done, we have an equal number of Millennials who exhibit the same self-directed competencies.

Millennials do not want to pay their dues

Many Millennials entered the work force right in the middle of the Great Recession. Many left college, and, through no fault of their own, had difficulty finding a professional job that matched their educational background and qualifications. As a result, many Millennials are still either unemployed or underemployed, and are quite willing to go the extra mile to pay their dues if they are working for a great leader and contributing to meaningful work.

Millennials may be confident in their abilities and critical thinking skills, but they also know they need experience, coaching and training to further their skills and development. Unpaid internships are a great example. As a generation motivated by meaningful and fulfilling work, Millennials have been willing to put in the efforts and hours for very little in return. In the struggling economy especially, unpaid internships became widely accepted as a rite of passage for Millennials. They might have been accompanied by a vague promise of potential future employment, or an incredible educational experience in the field of their dreams. Often, neither materialized despite the hours and dedication the Millennials contributed.

Millennials lack loyalty

Here’s some good news: A study by Oxford Economics found that Millennials are no more likely than non-Millennials to leave their jobs in the next six months. Less reassuring is the Harvard Business Review study that found that 76 percent of Millennials plan to find a new job as the economy improves. Workers from all generations, however, changed jobs more frequently in their youth; that is not a phenomenon limited to the millennial generation. It is safe to assume Millennials are quicker to leave poor managers or bad jobs because they can. At this point in their career, they are much more willing to take a risk and pursue opportunities that align more closely with their personal visions and aspirations.

Now that we’ve cleared up those misconceptions, let’s take a look at what Millennials are really looking for in the workplace. Are you as a leader prepared to meet their expectations?

Millennials are not solely motivated by money

While money is important to team members in every generation, Millennials, due to their age and the place in their career, are much more willing to leave a bad manager who creates poor working conditions, even if the position is well compensated. Money should not be the primary culture differentiator for any organization. Our research demonstrates that there is very little difference between the Best of the Best Benchmarked Organizations and the Organizations in the Overall Benchmark (four percent) when it comes to employees feeling fairly compensated.

Millennials believe that company culture is important

Millennials want to work for an organization that makes a difference in this world, and 67 percent of Millennials say it’s important for them to work for a socially responsible company. They also want to work for an organization that deeply cares about the whole employee…their career, their personal life, their health and safety, and their financial security.

Millennials want to collaborate

Although Millennials are quite comfortable working on their own, they enjoy collaborating when the vision and goals for the project are clear, and they can see that the result of their teamwork produces a better outcome.

Millennials want work-life balance

Baby Boomers are fond of the saying, “We live to work.” Many of us define ourselves and our success based on our work or profession. My 24-year-old son once gave me a personal coaching session on this topic when he said, “Dad, here’s the big difference between you and me; Work is your life. But I work so I can really live.” Work-life balance is one of the great keys to success in life, and we could all stand to be reminded of this a little more often.

Millennials want to be leaders who make a difference

In the Hartford’s 2014 Millennial Leadership Survey, 83 percent of respondents surveyed stated they aspire to lead in the workplace in the next five years. Millennials are no less ambitious than any other generation. They believe in their ability to make a difference, and are seeking the tools and experience necessary to achieve their visions.

Millennials thrive on feedback

Being new in the workplace, Millennials desire on-going feedback to help mentor their growth and development. As with any employee, the feedback needs to be presented in a style that is both helpful and motivating.

Millennials want to learn, grow and be challenged

72 percent of Millennials say they value opportunities for career advancement versus 64 percent of Generation X and 52 percent of Baby Boomers. In addition, 78 percent of Millennials stated they will work for less if they have a challenging job that produces meaningful work.I’ve written more about developing employees for success here.

Millennials want to be trusted

69 percent of Millennials stated that they want to be trusted. This trust radiates into a couple of different directions; Millennials want to be given clear goals so that they have the freedom to determine “how” they do the work. Many also want the freedom to decide where they do the work.

Millennials like to use technology

Millennials were born in a time of great technological innovation, and excel at utilizing technologies that were not even in existence five or 10 years ago. Millennials like to have a say in what technology they use and how they utilize it.

Millennials want to be valued and appreciated

90 percent of Millennials want to be thanked and expect recognition and feedback when they do a great job. The majority of all employees want to receive recognition for a job well done, and this is certainly not unique to the millennial generation.

When I review this list, it gets me excited for several reasons. First, as a baby boomer, this list is also my list. Contrary to many of the claims out there, this list doesn’t make Millennials selfish, irresponsible or entitled. In fact, it makes them pretty similar to the generations before them. The work culture attributes listed are what the best of the best organizations strive to cultivate, and they resonate across multiple generations.

So, what does differentiate Millennials? For one, their growing numbers and two, their willingness to speak up and vote with their feet and leave when their needs are not met. As Millennials continue to become a larger part of the workforce, it is up to leaders to make sure they are providing a workplace culture that is geared towards engaging and developing the highest caliber of talent, regardless of which generation they hail from.

This article originally appeared here.

This article was syndicated from Business 2 Community: Millennials Are Raising The Bar For Leaders

More Business & Finance articles from Business 2 Community: