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Coach and Lead Millennials with Technology
and Authentic Connections
© 2019 by Doris Helge, Ph.D.
Challenges of coaching and managing Millennial employees and attracting them to leadership positions were addressed in two previous articles, “Avoid Leadership Failure When You Coach and Lead Millennial Employees” and ”Millennial Management Mistakes and Remedies”, This article shares additional proven ways to engage Millennials and inspire them to do their best work. Every leadership strategy I’m sharing focuses on the unique strengths and needs of Generation Y, including technology and what some people call “hyper-connectivity”. Every solution I’m presenting creates authentic connections between leaders and Millennial employees and overcomes generational conflicts in the workplace. For reasons illustrated in other videos and articles on this website, women leaders are uniquely hardwired to employ each of these strategies.
How Technology Relates to Millennial Coaching and Leadership Failures and Solutions
Millennials (also known as Generation Y) are the generation born between 1980 and 1995. The first generation to grow up in a fully digital world, Millennials are not only comfortable with technology, they are tech dependent, from completing work tasks to staying in touch with friends and family.
Socially conditioned at young ages to rely on technology to rapidly resolve many problems, many Millennial employees expect speedy answers and solutions in the workplace. Some women who hired me for Women’s Leadership Coaching have groaned, “Millennials grew up gaining answers from around the globe by using search engines or clicking a screen. I love their optimistic zest for solutions, but Gen Y challenges me because they’re too impatient for the long-range planning we have to do to succeed.”
Millennials are known for their strong desire to live a purposeful life and to work for organizations that support sustainable communities and The Greater Good. Generation Y is often called Generation Why. Hearing an older leader respond to a Millennial’s questions like, “Why don’t we develop an on-line system so team members can quickly find information?” or “Why don’t we design an app for that problem?” with “Because we’ve always done it like we’re doing it today” is like asking a Millennial to endure a day of watching movies on a 1950s black and white television screen.
Since you know Millennials grew up expecting constant computer upgrades, better phones, enhanced gaming, etc., be a savvy leader. When you sense a Millennial is intolerant of long-range planning, encourage the Generation Y mantra, “If something’s great, it can always become better.” Then supplement the Millennial’s point of view with, “That’s why we need to plan for the next improvement.” Leaders who emphasize possibility thinking and consistently encourage Millennials to brainstorm how the organization can improve develop the best working relationship with Generation Y. They also gain trust of leadership and employee loyalty.
A proven, win-win way to engage Gen Ys and improve teamwork is to encourage and empower Millennials to use their hardwiring (created by consistently using technologies from early ages) to advance creativity, efficiency and work in global ways that benefit The Greater Good. One of the previous articles on this website discussed why it’s so important to coach Millennials to define how their life purpose relates to the organization.
Leaders Who Genuinely Connect With Millennials Thrive as Leaders
Gen Ys grew up expecting and receiving the instant gratification of technological feedback about their performance in games, on-line tests, etc. Another contributing feedback for many Millennials was the fact that many parents of Gen Ys raised them during the self-esteem movement in which every child received a trophy for merely participating in an event. It’s only reasonable that Millennials expect to receive feedback from leadership frequently and in a speedy manner.
We know an annual performance review is too infrequent for Millennials to receive the feedback they need. This doesn’t have to be a problem. Leaders can create a win-win situation by establishing easy employee feedback routines for themselves, ranging from a brief check-in every day or week to sending a short, focused weekly email to each person.
My Women’s Leadership Coaching clients have discovered this very simple process saves time and headaches. The Millennials they manage are more likely to stay on track, make timely course corrections and be less anxious because they always know how they’re doing. It’s no wonder that one of the most frequent comments of Women Leadership Coaching clients becomes: “My entire team’s performance has improved. Some of the Millennials used to constantly request more feedback than I had time to deliver. I was drowning in a continuous Millennial feedback loop. Now that my employees know when I’ll be in touch, they trust me and the process much more. Of course, I’ve told them to reach out, if necessary, at other times because none of us can accurately project everything that will arise in today’s complicated business environment.”
That testimonial is important because, more likely than not, you coach and lead more than one person. Don’t set yourself up for so many emails that you spend all of your time answering communication or working with one person who requires continuous clarification and loads of time. Set clear expectations regarding the type and frequency of feedback you’ll deliver and stick to your boundaries as often as possible.
Since Millennials are tech savvy and eagerly embrace new technologies, consider asking them for suggestions as you design your communication system. One female leader I coached was delighted when her Millennial team designed a feedback system in which the leader delivered regular, timely comments via text or IM (Instant Messaging). The Millennial employees another of my clients worked with invented a system of one-on-one feedback every day for three minutes. In both cases, the evaluations they shared with me clearly indicated that the leaders’ teams were exceptionally pleased. You can understand the appeal to Millennials because the feedback systems they designed included the technologies they prefer and regularly use. Gen Ys also became more aware they were a valuable contributor to their team.
In summary: Build trust, engagement and better relationships with Millennials by sincerely asking for their assistance. Think of ways you can empower Generation Y by engaging their fascination with innovation and their comfort with and knowledge of trailblazing innovations, social-media applications and networking systems. Since you’re leading a team with diverse skills and Millennials will someday lead most teams in your organization, engage them in improving the performance of the team and the total organization.
Discover More Proven Ways to Lead and Coach Millennials
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© 2019 Doris Helge, Ph.D. as interviewed on “The Today Show,” CNN and NPR. Certified Master Leadership and Executive Coach Doris Helge is author of bestselling books, including “Joy on the Job,” Doris has helped hundreds of women leaders like you meet every challenge you’re facing. Discover a multitude of proven solutions here.