Leading a Millennial Workforce

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renee for news.jpgMillennials comprise an ever-increasing percentage of today’s workforce.  In order for current and future leaders of your organization to be effective, some updates to your leadership training strategy may be necessary. To be a good leader, you have to be able to understand and communicate with your team on their level. Millennials bring a newer mindset to any company and require new leadership thinking to reach and lead them forward.


According to the 2015 State of Leadership Development Study conducted by Brandon Hall Group, 35% of organizations described their leadership development practices as below average. Over 51% indicated their leaders were not prepared to lead their workforce today and 71% indicated their leaders were not prepared to lead their workforce into the future.  Cited reasons include:


  • Organizations do not view a change in leadership training as critical to leading a Millennial workforce. Only 20% indicated they were updating their strategy.
  • Only 10% of organizations surveyed felt technology should be better utilized to appeal to and communicate with Millennial workers.
  • Only 7% of organizations have already revamped their training development programs to include training specifically addressing Millennials.


Companies who are not planning to address the need for updating their leadership training programs are taking a huge risk, as Millennials bring a number of unique traits and characteristics to the table. Millennials are already changing the landscape of the world we live in and the places we work by:


  • Maximizing technology to provide on-demand information
  • Instigating as well as embracing change
  • Creating global exposure and experience


According to the study, companies demonstrating a history of high-performance by their workforce have already identified a series of critical training elements designed to improve leadership abilities when it comes to dealing with a Millennial workforce, including:


  • Coach & Praise – Many Millennials have a tremendous fear of failure and the anxiety that often goes along with that fear.  They crave frequent attention, advice and feedback from their leaders and seek organizations known for providing this level of personal support.  Training leaders to not only lead, but to also mentor, is a necessary adjustment to secure the engagement of Millennials.  Entering an organized workforce is a drastic change for most Millennials and they depend on their leadership to help them navigate the corporate waters and be successful.


  • Small, Measurable Goals – Millennials already have the mindset they will not remain with any one organization for more than 2-3 years.  Leaders need to learn to rotate Millennials within the organization periodically to keep them challenged and retain them. Establish a career path in which your Millennial workers have the option of moving laterally through the organization rather than up the corporate ladder.  This can serve to retain their interest and their loyalty.


  • Embrace Technology – Today’s Millennial workforce has been raised on the newest technology, empowering them with instantaneous information on a global scale through a vast network of data and social connections.  They expect to carry this same technology into their workplace and use it to complete their tasks from anywhere and at any time.  One of the best ways to engage a Millennial worker is to encourage their use of the newest technologies.  Mobile devices for video conferencing, collaboration tools for document generation and progressive policies on telecommuting are all ways to attract and retain Millennials.


  • Millennial Culture – Millennials are very social by nature and prefer large collaborations over working in a vacuum.  Engage with Millennials via their social networks.  Provide for connectivity and collaboration between cross-functional teams to encourage the sharing and validation of new ideas throughout the organization.  This new level of instant and constant connectivity will not only serve to attract and retain your newer workforce members, but will also provide for greater productivity across the organization as a whole.


Have you made changes to further engage and retain your workforce, specifically your millennials?  Please share those so all CAI members can learn from your experiences.  Are you a millennial who can offer other insights for leadership, engagement and retention?  We want to hear your thoughts as well.

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