By Andy Bailey
We’re hearing a lot about millennials in the business world right now because this generation is coming into its own; its oldest members turn 34 this year. So it isn’t surprising that many of them are building solid careers and are on their way to becoming business leaders.
We can’t think of them as kids anymore. Each may have started out as a “Baby on Board,” but even the youngest of them are starting their own companies and working their way up the proverbial ladder.
According to the US Census Bureau, millennials make up about 24 percent of the US population. In another 11 years or so, the Brookings Institute predicts they will make up three out of every four workers in the country.
Advertisers and marketers see them as the target demo — setting trends and leading the culture for decades to come. We shouldn’t worry too much about how to motivate and lead these young people, because they’re going to be leading us before you know it. So it is up to us Generation Xers and Baby Boomers to prepare our companies for this new wave of entrepreneurial-minded young go-getters.
A study completed by Levit & Deloitte reported that 70 percent of young professionals around the world aspire to be their own boss. That’s astounding to me. So, what can business leaders do now to help prepare this younger generation to take on leadership roles and eventually the company reins?
1. They work differently.
First, consider that this generation is different from all the previous ones. Where you might have a floor full of Gen Xers who all work independently and require little supervision to get the job done; millennials prefer to work in groups, feeding off each others’ ideas and critiques. Growing up with the Internet and social media has made this an incredibly connected group of people. They’re not looking for the corner office and isolation. They want a bullpen and the ability to bounce ideas off their peers.
- 2. They have no patience for treading water.
This is an ambitious group. They want trust and responsibility, and they want it now. They don’t care about how you’ve always done it because they have ideas on how it can be done better. All they require from the boss is a little recognition and some leeway to shake things up. Don’t micromanage them. Doing things wrong is part of their process. Help them learn where they’re straying and get out of the way. They will surprise you with their “can-do” attitude.
3. They seek purpose, beyond your bottom line.
Want to motivate a millennial? Explain how the job they’re doing will make a difference in your company, your community or the world. Share with them the company vision and their place in it and you’ll find a motivated and industrious group of workers. You have to understand that they are connected to each other and the world in ways that older generations couldn’t envision. They have a wider, longer view than you do. Harness that vision, temper it with your experience and you’ll create a generation of leaders.
4. They may not know who Aretha Franklin is, but they still want respect.
Millennials grew up with the technology that drives your business. Their learning curves aren’t as steep as you might think and they expect that to be recognized. Treat these young people with respect and they’ll use their powers for good and not evil. Work to smooth their way into leadership roles and you’ll be positioning your company for success for generations to come.
Andy Bailey built and sold a multimillion-dollar business and is now lead entrepreneur coach with business coaching firm, Petra, and president of Nashville’s EO chapter. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.