Teach Millennials How to Execute Ideas

There's a huge shift taking place inside organizations as the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that 75 million Millennials (individuals born between 1980-1999) have joined the workforce. What must CIOs know to leverage this next generation's strengths?

4. Share the Why… Then Show Them HOW

Millennials are described as the Creative Class. Voluntarily bombarded with billions of bits of data, they have nine-second attention spans and a myriad of stimuli enabling quick, ingenious connections.

How do you inspire these brilliant "connectors" to produce? Define and share the "why" at the core of what you and your organization do. If you want to capture the energy, the passion, the creativity and profitable production of this generation, engagement in the "why" is essential.

The value of smart, hard work for its own sake is meaningless. Purpose, beyond the paycheck, is what ignites them.

That said, the "how" often requires a bit of guidance. Having led a rather directed life of over-protected, over-scheduled days, they admit they are frustrated by their inability to execute. Baby Boomers and autonomous Gen X'ers need to demonstrate how great creative ideas are only sustainable when companies can effectively take those ideas to market, and perhaps make a profit in the process. If you're a Baby Boomer or X'er and you share workflow processes, supply chain management, and the why and how behind the cool gadget, Millennials will thank you. They'll thank you even more if you turn the teachable moment into a conversation, let them carry their phones while on a tour of the workplace, and then ask for their feedback on how to improve workplace efficiencies. And, try not to look surprised when they solve a bug you've been trying to eliminate for years.

5. Assimilate to a New Normal

"9 to 5" is the title of a 1980 movie that debuted the year Millennials were first born; these are NOT their normal working hours. Millennials, Gen Y, EchoBoomers, Net Generation, Boomerang and Peter Pan Generation are all terms used to describe this next cultural force that demands a new way of being and doing. Millennials grew up with Internet-capable crib computers, and they have lived in a diverse network of interactive media such as text messages, blogs, global positioning and instant messaging. They are normal. It's just a new normal, and managers need to seek ways to respect and adapt. Here are some ideas:

  • Create opportunities for social interaction like Tuesday morning brainstorms, Wednesday afternoon product innovation scavenger hunts, and Thursday night softball that raises money for a cause.

  • Use technology to build culture and foster multi-disciplinary teams. Ask them to video record meetings and team exercises, edit for bullet points and highlights and then post their creation on the company intranet. It gets them excited and engaged and sustains the "why".

  • Let them use their tech-tools to advance their productivity, hold them accountable to high standards and publicly praise and encourage meeting and exceeding these standards.

For technology leaders to drive growth and respond to the incredibly fast-paced changing world they must embrace, not resist, new ideas and more technologically creative approaches; innovative products; integrated organizations; open, less private, communication; connected communities; responsible, cause-oriented cultures. Most importantly, embrace these twentysomethings who thrive on technology, change, social causes, teamwork, feedback and a personal life.  The next generation is the challenge and the solution that will take your company successfully into the next era - one, while yet to be revealed, is far closer than you might think.

About the Author

AmyK Hutchens, Founder and Intelligence Activist, AmyK International, Inc., is a speaker, trainer and business strategist. Follow AmyK on Twitter @AmyKinc or visit www.amyk.com

This article was originally published on 06-11-2012
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