Everyone likes to pick on millennialseven millennials. But a lot of the hate is actually unfounded, or, in the very least, oversimplifying. Nonetheless, millennials are very much changing up the general dynamics of the American workforce, especially in redefining the essential criteria for a satisfying career.

A 2016 Gallup Report, How Millennials Want to Work and Live, finds that millennials, more than any other generation alive, value opportunities for learning and growth as the most important attributes of the ideal job:

  • “59% of millennials say opportunities to learn and grow are extremely important to them when applying for a job
  • “44% of Gen Xers and 41% of baby boomers say the same about these types of opportunities”
  • “only 39% [of millennials] strongly agree that they learned something new in the past 30 days that they can use to do their jobs better.

So the verdict is in and millennials aren’t getting the mental stimulation and opportunities they desire. And, as this generation represents the entire younger half of the current workforce, companies both large and small will have to continue to adapt to the needs of the workers that represent their future management.

Here at tekMountain, millennials make up a vast majority of the employees for the forty companies working out of our startup space. Everyday we get a front row seat to the hard work and ambitions of these young professionals. The fact alone that so early on they’re already knee-deep in innovation and entrepreneurship shows that these people are ready to learn on the fly and adapt as needed. In that spirit, we’ve decided to offer some insight from industry experts on how career development can help satisfy the aspirations of your millennial employees.

Powwows, Forests, and Mirrors

Leela Srinivasan, CEO of Lever, a recruiting software company, offers some 3-step advice on how to listen to your young employees, realize their individual roles within the company’s grand operation, and how to lead by genuine engagement with employees:

  • Plan regular team powwows.

Srinivasan says feedback equals engagement, which is quite possibly the skeleton key metric when it comes to productivity, job satisfaction, and turnover liability. Not only does this help your employees feel valued, it also empowers them to take charge individually and amidst team members.

  • See the forest and the trees.

Srinivasan favors the 360-degree six-month review, a comprehensive form of feedback for an individual employee where superiors and peers alike contribute positive and constructive feedback. The idea is that, because one employee interacts with multiple departments and authority tiers, it’s best to for that person to see how he or she plays her part in the grand scheme.

  • Be a mirror for team members.

Here, Srinivasan says, is how leaders truly connect with their employees. One must find a way for employees to see themselves in their managers–to see that managers understand where their employees have come from, where they are now, and where they want to go. This begins by creating time and space for employees to give voice to their dreams one-on-one with their leaders.

As a Leader, Be Like Water

Aaron Levy, founder & CEO of Raise the Bar Consulting, a management training and coaching service, asserts that true leadership embodies the ability to adapt to every employee’s situation and needs, while maintaining a natural line of communication:

  • Be wary of career-pathing.

While this may sound anti-career development, Levy says the point is not to create too rigid of a career path, because companies change over time, especially their staffing needs. Overpromising, too, will lead to under-delivering, and that’s a surefire way to lose good employees. The solution here is to promote a vision of upward mobility within the company as fluid and dependent upon versatility and openness within the employee.

  • Train your managers to be coaches.

Levy suggests another way around career-pathing: teaching managers to be able to guide, support, and constructively criticize their employees. As Srinivasan said above, the higher the employee engagement, the better the all-around performance. Levy extends that into manager engagement–it’s not just a matter of evaluating an employee day-to-day, but rather evaluating how that employee fits into the company’s present and future–then actually communicating these observations.

  • Have “stay” interviews.

This sort of interview is the opposite of an exit interview. Managers should make it a point to have casual one-on-one’s with their employees, even ones they believe to be most content, to listen to what each employee wants out of their time with the company in terms of developing skills and taking on new responsibilities.

  • Live feedback should be natural.

Rather than wait for the annual review, or even an email a few days later, managers should give advice and coaching on-the-fly. Levy argues that, when feedback is delayed, the employee’s growth potential is inhibited, as learning is most valuable in the moment, when all of the variables of a particular scenario are still fresh within the employee’s mind.

A Management Strategy That Suits Every Employee

While this article centers around millennial retainment, a more personable approach to everyday management is sure to win over most if not all of your employees. If you’re willing to listen, learn, and adapt, your staff will feel empowered to do what they believe is right, to confide in you about their aspirations, and to keep an honest line of communication with you and their peers.

As one of the nation’s emerging innovation and entrepreneurial centers, tekMountain enjoys a vast mentorship network comprised of seasoned and successful leaders from across a score of industries. If you believe you or your company could make use of game-changing leadership consulting, contact tekMountain today.


This blog was produced by the tekMountain Team of Sean AhlumAmanda Sipes, and Bill DiNome with lead writer Zach Cioffi.


Comments are closed.