5 Mistakes to Avoid When Grooming Millennials

By Danita Bye February 14, 2018
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By 2020, Millennials will be driving the economy and will do so for the next 30 years. If you are a business owner or HR professional committed to growing your business, it's time to recognize the leadership mistakes we make while mentoring and leading Millennials and to spur your organization to make some course corrections that can put it on a path to success.

When I asked business leaders about their frustrations in working with Millennials for my company's 2017 Millennial Survey, we received an outpouring of concerns. Some leaders said they struggle to effectively implement character, confidence and collaboration development strategies. Others believe Millennials lack determination and accountability, lack resiliency, and possess a "know-it-all" attitude. Managed properly, however, Millennial leaders can become power players on any team and, in many ways, hold the power to change the way we work, grow and innovate.

Here's a look at five common mistakes leaders make in developing Millennial talent that I discuss in my book Millennials Matter: Proven Strategies for Building Your Next-Gen Leader (Broadstreet Publishing Group, 2017). By addressing these missteps, we can harness the unique skills and talents of our emerging young leaders to better serve our organizations.

Mistake #1: Being vague on expected outcomes while micromanaging the process.

Millennials sometimes appear to be hesitant, especially when having to tackle an unfamiliar project. This is regarded by many managers as a lack of initiative.

In reality, Millennial leaders need to be coached and engaged in an intentional manner. They need to be very clear on how you expect them to tackle a task and on exactly what successful completion of that task looks like to you. While they don't want to be micromanaged, they do need regular feedback and encouragement to know they are on the right track.

Mistake #2: Sticking to an outdated practice of annual performance reviews.

Millennials need to know that they are on the right course. Eighty percent of Millennials value on-the-spot recognition and correction, rather than a formal sit-down meeting, according to Inc. com. Not getting regular feedback can leave them feeling unsure about whether or not they are moving forward in line with their manager's expectations.

Prioritize a small amount of time every day to give regular feedback and encouragement to help Millennial leaders grow in their skills and gain a better understanding of the job you want them to do.

Mistake #3: Assuming that Millennials operate with the same value system as previous generations.

Millennials value companies that believe business success should be measured by more than just profit. Many business owners see this as a challenge to their growth.

Millennial leaders understand that profit matters, but they want to do more than just help a company to remain in the black. They also want to empower companies to achieve bigger, better, world-size goals that help other people. Recognize this passion and how powerful it might be for your business. Millennials are motivated, highly dedicated and incredibly focused when presented with opportunities to pursue more than just company goals.

Mistake #4: Failing to provide leadership development opportunities and a growth path within your company.

Many research articles claim that Millennials will simply be working somewhere else in a few years. So why invest time in coaching and mentoring them? By failing to share your experiences and develop your Millennial leaders, you give them reason to leave and find a company that is willing to do so, because they crave mentoring.

It's true that 54 percent of Millennials want to start a business or already have one. However, they are highly devoted to their employers in the right circumstances. Empower them to make a difference. As they innovate and energize the workflow in your enterprise, give them insight into how using those talents can help make your business better.

Mistake #5: Believing that because Millennials want flexible work hours, they are lazy, disloyal and not contributing to business growth.

An estimated 74 percent of Millennials want a flexible work schedule. By not making allowances for an alternative work schedule, you might be losing out on their unique skills and talents. If you provide them with flexible schedules and the ability to telecommute, they'll generally put in longer hours and work harder for the company.

Have you made mistakes in managing your Millennial leaders? With a few changes, you can transform your workforce from "troublesome" employees to the empowered partners your business needs. Be willing to change your perspective on Millennials, harness their unique skills and talents, and grow together.

Danita Bye, a member of Forbes Coaches Council, is a leadership and sales development expert, founder of Sales Growth Specialists in Stanley, N.D.,  and author of Millennials Matter: Proven Strategies for Building Your Next-Gen Leader (Broadstreet Publishing Group, 2017). 


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