Millennials are moving into leadership roles faster than any other generation in the last 30 years. And with the projection that 60% of current organizational leadership will be gone by the end of 2018, we can expect that pace to quicken.
To succeed, these emerging leaders need and want training, coaching and mentoring. They also can use tips from other Millennial leaders who have successfully walked their path.
Robert McGowan, a Millennial and Operations Manager with the OPS Security Group, is responsible for developing, refining and managing company-wide security processes and strategic operations for company headquarters and a 350-person field operation. His challenges come from leading a multigenerational workforce that includes Millennials as well as employees coming from former careers in various fields, including military, law enforcement and hospitality. He has these three survival guide tips to offer his contemporaries:
- Listen more, talk less—College and grad courses are helpful in time management, project and research skills but don’t provide the best practices that are needed, especially in start-up companies. McGowan advises not talking just to hear yourself talk, but to listen, listen, listen before beginning to solve problems. Seek diverse input and points of view in the listening process.
- Treat people as you want to be treated—being respectful and having an overall caring approach will get you farther. He offers the example of an employee who alerted him that a child’s illness might make her miss a shift. The practice in place was to have the employee call in with updates and make a last-minute decision as to whether she could handle her shift. Instead, McGowan emphasized the value of family and told her upfront to focus on her daughter and not worry about the shift. He did a work-around and found someone else to cover her spot. With his approach, I think he has guaranteed a loyal employee for the future.
- It’s OK not to know everything upfront as you solve problems—For Millennial leaders there is a delicate balance between projecting competence or arrogance. Managing a multi-generational workforce requires stressing a team mentality and displaying a sensitivity to older worker’s life experience and knowledge while still displaying your own knowledge, skills, traits and competence. McGowan advises not taking delicate situations personally, but stepping back and giving yourself enough time to consider multiple options when problem solving. He likes getting back to people rather than offering a solution on the spot. If the situation is time sensitive, he’ll state a time by which he’ll have a response, allowing delivery of a better solution.
These approaches are achieving successful results for McGowan and the OPS Security Group as they grow together. If you are a Millennial leader and have other strategies to suggest, please pass them along to me at email@example.com so I can share them with readers.