As a Consultant working with many teams, almost every week I hear something like, “How do we reach millennials… and keep them?” That is a great question. It is one that seems to be baffling many leaders and managers. Depending on who you talk to, Millennials were born from around 1980-2004. It is believed that Millennials will make up over 50% of the workforce by 2020 and 75% by 2030. They are tagged as the “Next Greatest Generation”.
Teams and organizations want to succeed at reaching Millennials, but unfortunately many are going about it in the wrong ways. You might also want to read a previous blog I wrote about Millennials HERE.
In my opinion, there are three types of approaches to connecting with Millennials.
1- The Commanding Approach
“This is the way we have always done it”
Trying to maintain the status quo while reaching young talent can be summed up in 4 words…IT WILL NOT WORK! Millennials do not respond positively to the old “top down” organizational chart. They see each level as a block-aid to moving forward. They look at themselves at the bottom and think, “I’m too far away from the epicenter of ever changing things.”
The company with the Commanding Approach, mentality spends more time complaining about the “differences” in the generational thinking, and little to no time learning how to leverage this fresh new thinking for a positive outcome. Those with this type of mentality sit in a boardroom and legislate a Vision & Mission Statement, along with a list of policies and procedures that prevents change from happening.
2- The Cool Approach
“We are the coolest company in town”
The “Cool Approach” company, swings the pendulum to the other side. So that they don’t come across as cold and hard, they act like there should be little to no organizational structure. In this approach, there are ping pong tables, “collaboration stations” and a Latte machine, with a doggie park outside. Everyone skateboards to the meetings, and even the “old people” dress like they just rolled out of bed.
This approach leaves out the fact that Millennials are not opposed to mentors or coaches, in fact they crave them. The “Cool Approach” to connecting with Millennials overlooks a couple of facts. Accountability is part of sustainability, and productivity is part of profitability. Millennials want to be productive, but for the right cause or reason. The retention rate at the “cool” company is probably no better than the “commanding company” because neither truly understands the heart and needs of the Millennial.
3- The Culture-Shaping Approach
“Let’s change the world”
The “Culture-Shaping” companies are not just trying to blend the other two. On the contrary, they are on completely focused on a new paradigm all together. It is not just about changing the status quo, it is about launching a new trajectory.
To shape the culture of an organization or a team, you have to have the “buy in” of a cross section of everyone involved. Collaboration, Core Values, Cause and Compassion are keys to the success of any organization that will reach and retain Millennials. Speaking about Millennials, “62% want to work for an employer that makes a social impact”*. They are not as interested in climbing the corporate ladder as they are about making a difference. Millennials are more concerned about the Core Values than they are your Mission Statement.
“Millennials want you to recognize their values, not just their strengths and weaknesses.”Dr. Rodney Agan/Connexus Group