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Beyond Training: Creative Thoughts on Developing Millennials
Millennials will make up 35 percent of the global workforce by 2020, so there’s never been a better time to discuss how to develop their talent as leaders.
- Laziness: Millennials are working as hard if not harder than other generations! In a global study of 19,000 millennials and 1500 managers, more than 73 percent report working more than 40 hours a week.
- Retiring Young: Most millennials know they’ll work longer than the generations before them. Globally, over half expect to work past age 65.
- Working “Gigs” Only: Gig work may dominate the media, but almost three-quarters of working millennials are in full-time jobs. Even in the US, only 3 percent of millennials work in the gig economy.
- Learning opportunities, not just training – Millennials welcome meaningful learning opportunities on the job that provide resume-worthy experience. These can include leading visible projects, speaking in both small and large groups or collaborating across silos or geographical boundaries on stretch assignments. When making these assignments, connect likely learning outcomes to career progression. While classroom training is helpful, hands-on learning with methods for capturing learning gains is most important.
- Leveraging technology – Millennials are sometimes known as “Gen Net” or the “I-Generation,” as in “Internet” Generation. They are completely comfortable with technology and expect its use in any formalized learning. Micro-learning reinforcements such as Mindmarker can deepen classroom learning. Social media chat forums allow real-time peer discussions to address challenges. E-learning, videos, and gamification are all options for engaging the millennial learner. Apps that include all of the material of your learning programs are preferable to random links. All of this ensures that learning can take place anywhere, anytime—critical for this generation.
- Mentoring and sponsorships – Millennials are hungry for meaningful relationships and guidance. They not only want mentoring from leaders; they are also capable of providing mentoring to others as subject matter experts. Mentoring in two directions also allows for both transfer and exchange of responsibility and knowledge in a structured way. Depending on the size of the organization, software may help (e.g., iMentor) to match mentors and mentees. However, what really makes a difference is providing structure and training to both groups. Consider assigning high-potential millennials to sponsors in senior leadership who can be true champions of their careers and help secure key assignments for the millennial leader to ensure guided growth.
- Focused coaching wrapped around training – For high-potential millennial leaders, planned training combined with expert coaching can accelerate their growth in a short period. Millennials want things fast; a six-to-twelve-week leadership development program works well for this generation. The most common challenges addressed in these kinds of programs include developing leadership presence, communication skills, strategic thinking and influence skills . Be sure to tie competencies to organizational strategies and priorities.
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