Creating Succession Plans for Millennials
July 13, 2017 | Hunt Scanlon Media
The word “Millennial” has come to elicit many negative associations. Edward Fleischman, CEO and founder of The Execu|Search Group, said that among the many characteristics associated with a Millennial, they are often considered to be entitled, selfish, and self-absorbed. While it’s easy to be dubious of the younger generation, this stereotype existed long before Y2K.
Like any generation, Millennials have their own needs. While many employers have caught on, some remain uncertain as to what Millennials want in an employer and why they should alter their practices to accommodate them. According to Forbes, more than one in four Millennials are now in managerial roles, and this number will continue to grow.
For organizations that want to facilitate a smooth transition into a Millennial-dominated workforce, Execu|Search suggests these four tips for strategically addressing their needs for long-term success:
1. Recognize Potential
While you may feel that some of your Millennial employees are unprepared for a leadership position, learn to recognize the signs of a potential leader, and focus on nurturing those employees. Providing measured professional development opportunities will help to guide them in their eventual transition to a leadership role. An employee who displays excellent communication skills or high emotional intelligence, for example, could one day make an effective manager.
“When you think about the fundamental tenets of any successful relationship, one of the most critical is communication,” said Smooch R. Reynolds, global investor relations and communications practice group leader with DHR International. “Without it, there is no relationship that will develop into a mutually trusting one where both sides learn to become interdependent in a healthy, productive and gratifying manner.” By giving them the experience to learn, she said, they can become an indispensable asset to an organization.
2. Show Millennials You Trust Them
While many employers are often hesitant to invest in Millennials who may leave the organization before such an investment will ever pay off, many Millennials depart from their company for that very reason. Once you recognize those professionals who can grow within the organization, it is important to prove that you are prepared to make a long-term investment in them.
“The challenge is that the level of intellectual curiosity with this generation requires much more commitment on the part of management in terms of time and training than prior generations,” said Ms. Reynolds. “As a result, many leaders may feel squeezed to do their own jobs competently as well as invest the time required to mentor millennials with a productive result.”
Without rebuilding the trust that has been lost between an employer and their employee, it is unlikely that they will stay. By offering those employees new learning opportunities and projects that help keep their skills up to date, they are more likely to feel satisfied. Also, allowing them greater autonomy over their work will show that you inherently trust that they are competent.
3. Promote Work-Life Balance
Because they grew up in the technology era, Millennials have difficulty powering down from work. As a connected generation, they are constantly checking email, even on weekends and late at night. And, entering the workforce during a recession has made them wary of unemployment, leading many Millennials to go to extra lengths to prove that they are indispensable to an employer. “This is partially fueled by their innate curiosity which drives them to performance-based outcomes quicker than most,” said Ms. Reynolds. “Anyone who is eager to advance their careers is going to demonstrate their value every hour of every day.”
According to Harvard Business Review, more Millennials forfeit unused vacation days than older generations — even though as younger workers, they earn less time off. While it may be encouraging to see employees working hard, this trend means that many Millennials actually have an unhealthy work-life balance. Keep in mind that a burned out employee is no good to your organization, and encourage Millennial employees to unplug and take time off when needed.
4. Step Up Your Communication
In order to recognize and nurture leadership potential in your younger employees, you may need to spend more time getting to know them. By opening up the lines of communication, you can earn their trust, and they are more likely to share what’s on their mind. Plus, when you learn more about what each individual is looking for in their job, you can better accommodate them.
“Make a point to understand not only what motivates them in the work setting, but also what is interesting to them outside of work,” said Ms. Reynolds. “They are definitely a generation that wants to have a more intentional work-life balance, so find out what piques their interest in that regard.” This creates an environment that will foster the likelihood that they will rise through the ranks at your organization. Beyond that, be sure to let employees know if you feel they are on track for a leadership role; those who know that they are up for a promotion will be more likely to work harder and stay motivated.