If you’re like most business leaders, you’re hearing a lot about what Millennials can learn by mentoring with an older leader . . . and by “older”, I mean over 45 which is still pretty young! However, reverse mentorships are becoming more popular. This is where mature leaders work closely with a younger professional to stay up on the latest technology and trends. This may feel like a humbling concept for someone who is an older Gen X or Boomer, but these collaborations can lead to growth for both individuals.
Millennials have a reputation as being a tad spoiled, perhaps a bit entitled and ready to cut and run at the first sign of difficulties. However, the same traits can make Boomers crazy make Millennials an important addition to the workplace. Their creativity, willingness to take risks, express learning styles and ability to fearlessly embrace change are all valued aspects of their personality.
Millennials are also an excellent foil to other management styles. Here are a few of the things that older leaders can learn from Millennials.
Work-Life Balance Should Be Unbalanced
There has been a larger focus in the past decade on creating a more healthy work-life balance. This has been important because past generations are working more hours per week than ever before in an effort to stay up-to-date and push forward multiple initiatives.
Gen X leaders grew up in an environment where facetime in an office setting was incredibly important. Millennials are more likely to feel confident working from a remote location or in a more non-traditional setting. This allows Millennials to be more flexible with their time — while they may still be working the same number of hours, it’s actually easier to support their families and be more effective in their careers.
What we should learn: Encourage your workplace to become more open to non-traditional options such as extended vacation periods, working from home or other locations and shared jobs. It’s about getting the work tasks completed, not about how many hours per week you’re physically at your desk.
Embrace Your Passion
Today’s workers don’t expect to be with the same organization throughout their career. Workers with more experience may find that they’re stuck in a position that doesn’t truly feed their passions. The work could turn into “just a paycheck” instead of feeling like an energizing opportunity to make a difference in the world.
What we should learn: Don’t let yourself get stuck in a rut at work. Find ways to feed your passion both personally and professionally to stay motivated.
We all have things that we are required to do which are de-motivating at best, soul-killing at worst. This could be everything from paying taxes (required) to creating a snapshot of a report (negotiable). Millennials thrive in fast-paced environments where decisions are made quickly (and where there is grace for failure).
What we should learn: Look for ways to de-prioritize items that are not truly moving your organization forward. Relentlessly question the reasoning for tasks that feel meaningless. Even better — encourage each team member to annihilate items from their daily work that do not tie directly to your organization’s stated goals and objectives.
The Only Thing Constant is Change
Change is scary. Change means the potential for failure and the possibility that you won’t like what comes next. The near-constant state of technology flux means that today’s workers must become comfortable with changes in order to thrive. Millennials grew up in a world of cell phones, instant messaging and snap decisions. This has made them more comfortable with a mindset that constant change is a normal state of affairs.
What we should learn: Don’t wait for someone else to introduce a new tool to the organization. Be the one constantly on the lookout for ways to work better, faster, cheaper. When you’re the one to introduce change to your organization, yes — there’s more risk. However, the rewards can be much greater as well. Perhaps the biggest benefit is having more control over the pace of change if you’re the one driving the bus!
If you learn only one thing, let it be this: Everyone has something to contribute. Look for ways to supplement your gaps in knowledge and understanding wherever you can find them — even if that takes the form of dealing with young whippersnappers and upstarts in your office.
One of the best ways to be successful is to define your strengths and look for ways to shore up any weaknesses with a StrengthsFinder profile. Get started with your profile today — contact me at 206-393-2392 or via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.