By 2020 the most dominant generation in the workforce will be Millennials – otherwise referred to as digital natives or Gen Y – according to global thought leader in business storytelling and mentor Gabrielle Dolan.
As this technologically savvy, resourceful and collaborative generation enters the workplace, your office environment and leadership style will need to adjust.
“Attracting and retaining talent is still a challenge, and we cannot expect to keep our best and brightest people, let alone attract them if we don’t inspire them,” says Dolan.
“Companies spend a fortune on graduate programs to only see workers leave after a couple of years, justifying their departure with reasons like, ‘I am not prepared to do the hard yards’. Typically, these graduates are not leaving to take on an easier role, they are leaving to work for leaders who are authentic and inspire them.”
If you want to keep your young team motivated, here are four things you should do immediately:
1. Shift your understanding: hierarchy is no longer relevant
Gen Y expects a free-flowing forum of communication, predominantly due to their healthy disrespect for authority, says Dolan. They are prepared to follow, but this decision will not be based on title or position, but on a leader’s ability to inspire and ignite them.
“Leaders who think they need to have all the answers because they are in a position of authority will not relate well to this generation. Similarly, leaders who feel they need to be bulletproof and not show any vulnerability and emotion will also struggle to connect.”
2. Be authentic and show vulnerability
Bringing your whole self to your leadership position includes being honest and upfront about your passions, your values, what you care about and what you are prepared to advocate, says Dolan, so offer your authentic self at all times.
“Once these factors are identified, you then need to have the courage to bring them to your leadership… showing vulnerability is not a weakness.”
3. Straight talking is best: say it as it is
“Every time leaders use corporate jargon, they isolate and disconnect from people,” says Dolan. “For example, when working with a CEO who would use the term ‘executional excellence’ it became apparent that most of his team did not fully understand what it meant.
When asked to explain the term he said, ‘it’s the combination of visualisation followed by the realisation of the agreed deliverables in line with strategic direction’. When pushed further and with evident frustration he said, ‘put simply what it means is when we decide to do something, let’s just make sure we do it right’.”
The message? Forget corporate speak and instead learn to communicate in a way that truly connects.
4. Share stories to connect with others
Merging business with some personal elements is essential: “Stories have the power to communicate in a way that engages and truly connects with people – this is a key leadership competency in today’s business world.”