Most millennials were raised in an era swamped with team sports and collaborative classroom settings. They were raised with the mantra of “you got this,” and most have taken that to heart and are ready to conquer whatever they face. Millennials have been programmed for success, while being told they were unique and that they and their individual gifts and skills are important to the world around them. They were raised on stories of good conquering evil and taught that, if persistent, the good guys win.
It’s no wonder that today the millennial generation often defines itself as focused on corporate empathy and social responsibility. Millennials often look for employers who have the best interests of their employees at heart and also value backing social causes and issues with the global community in mind. They want to know the work being done will have a real, positive impact on the world around them. They are far less interested in the company’s grand mission than what is happening on the ground-level.
Not surprisingly, most millennials want to know how they fit into the culture of a company or organization. Millennials want a place at the table. They aren’t interested in a work culture in which no one sees the impact of the work on the organization as a whole, nor are they interested in a work culture where only the “boss” has the good ideas.
The days of the traditional management style of “here are the rules” and “black and white” feedback are quickly passing as it is estimated that by 2020 millennials will make up nearly 75% of the U.S. workforce. And with that 75% comes the set of values, hopes, and ideas that drive millennials towards success. One such value is that of coaching-driven leadership.
Millennials want to be coached
In 2016 the Harvard Business Review discovered that around 1,400 millennial respondents desired regular feedback from their managers/employers, including monthly meetings regarding their personal progress. The survey also found that millennials desired one-on-one contact with their managers 50 percent more than their co-workers of different ages. These reasons, among others, are why coaching is crucial for the growing millennial workforce.
For example, take the desire for feedback. Traditionally, feedback would come in the form of an employer-determined Development Review. But with a generation eager to grow and learn, the desire for feedback is a chance for the employer to ask questions that help the millennial employee identify their own strengths as well as areas in which they can improve. Self-identifying areas in need of improvement fosters a feeling of ownership and empowerment towards change. Millennials already work hard to improve themselves as employees. For example, hundreds of thousands of them participate in online courses to further their education and many more are actively volunteering for extra projects or working extra hours to learn more or improve the business where they work.
When managers or leaders use the desire for feedback to coach their millennial staff members they can help them create manageable action steps towards improving not only themselves but also the whole workplace. By viewing coaching millennials as an important part of their role managers can learn to do what coaches excel at: They create a collaborative work environment. They level the playing field, which not only improves staff morale, it also makes millennials feel like integral parts of the team.
Being recognized for how their hard work impacts the whole company or organization, accomplishing more and improving themselves are things millennials desire for their workplace– and coaching can take them there. Well-done coaching in the workplace helps create a culture that feels safe for sharing ideas and opinions because it breaks down hierarchical barriers and traditional title-based boundaries. A trained coach provokes team members towards growth and success.
Keeping these things in mind, it becomes easy to see why coaching has a high value for most millennials. It not only helps them develop their skills and improves the workplace as a whole, but also their manager or leader has the chance to grow by helping guide them as they grow.
Question: How have you seen coaching help millennials in the workplace?