“You can accomplish more in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get people interested in you.” – Dale Carnegie
Millennials, Gen Y, Gen Next whatever you choose to call them, you need to understand who they are and what they want their workplace to look like. They want a collaborative workplace. In fact, in a recent survey, 88% identified collaboration over competition, as a key decision point for employment.
Without question, the workplace has changed dramatically over the last twenty years. We have seen traditional hierarchies supported by cubicles and closed office doors replaced in the extreme by free dry cleaning services, ping pong tables and sushi bars. Today, with budgets shrinking, many of the off-the-wall perks are going away. Many cutting-edge employers are coming to the realization that if their recruitment strategies center around perks alone, their young hires will leave quickly to the next new thing. This evolution of the workplace, and understanding the drivers behind it, holds a key to inspiring and mobilizing the power of our Millennial tribe!
As I think back, I recall my middle management version of collaboration being underpinned by Post-it notes, whiteboards and “blue-sky” sessions. Today, in search of true collaborative communities, our Millennial friends are looking to use Skype crowd discussions, smart boards and internal social media platforms. It falls on us as leaders to find the means by which the collaborative culture, sought after by Millennials, becomes a reality in our organizations. From personal experience, this proves to be even more challenging within the public sector context where I spent most of my career.
More challenging? Yes.
For this cultural transformation to be successful, it is absolutely paramount that we engage our target stakeholders, our Millennial tribe, in the decision-making process. The truth is, I’ve seen the opposite fail terribly. If efforts to move to more collaborative environments are to be successful, leaders need to ensure that as we explore the possibilities of collaboration, we do so with input from those we intend to be collaborative.
So how do we go about the creation of that collaborative environment our Millennial employees crave? And how do we, at the same time, ensure that it is embraced, utilized and productive? Before we look at specific ideas around collaboration, we need to emphasize that as novel and innovative as collaborative tools may be, their ability to produce results is only as good as the culture of collaboration we have instilled in our teams and organization. Nested in that framework of a collaborative culture is where the real success is found.
Answers are Answers—Do not anticipate the source!
Millennials are more connected than any other generation before them. For them, it is through the use of their varied social platforms, including Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, that they connect with a varied network far and wide. But even more telling, is the way in which Millennials utilize that varied network to address challenges.
As an example: during any given workday, issues arise across organizations. Regardless of which challenges are being faced, there are answers and remedies to be found through the friends and connections fostered on our various social media platforms. As leaders, we need to ensure that our Millennial cohort has access to those platforms and the answers contained on them. A question can be posed and an answer quickly received from another person, whether situated across the hallway, the building or the world. It is that collaborative approach which intertwines young and old, experienced or not, to produce real-time actionable responses to issues and challenges.
It is important to clarify that we are not suggesting that our corporate strategy for issue resolution should revolve around Google and self-professed Internet-based subject matter “experts.” What I am suggesting is that the consensus-based results of a social media– driven exploration can then be managed and massaged within the current context of one’s organization. A Millennial student working on a summer term put it this way:
“There is a great deal of information and opinion available on the Internet today. It is all interesting, but we know not all of it is accurate. What is most important is to be able to validate what is being said, within the context of the current organization.”
If you are a leader or aspire to be, the majority of your team will be comprised of millennials. What steps will you take to create a collaborative environment in order to unleash your teams’ potential?
This post is an excerpt from Bruce’s newly published book Leadership Hack: Leading the Millennial Tribe – currently available on Amazon