Why is it that enterprises seek to innovate and transform every part of their business except for its management model? Employees are used to having layers of bureaucracy between them and decision-makers. Is this really the best way to encourage teams to think for themselves, take creative initiatives or be happy at work?
Instead, businesses should try to enable employees of all generations to share ideas on workplace best practice, new channels of communication, ways of collaboration and methods for adding value.
With this in mind, let me share five lessons organisations can learn from the behaviour of Millennials.
1. Amplify the employee voice
If an employee shows commitment to to learn and a sense of ownership in tackling business challenges, they must be empowers. This is the energy organisations should channel towards positive outcomes. After all, a business is only as successful as the people working in it. Millennials who are keen to engage on improving ways of working can act as an inspiration to cynical managers in need of a fresh outlook.
Millennials have grown up in a digital age and, as such, are comfortable utilising a wider range of tools such as social media to streamline activities. Such a progressive outlook helps to revolutionise existing rules and methods and gives organisations an edge against the competition.
2. Invert the Pyramid
A sign of an accomplished manager is adaptability. In order to make a team of mixed generations respect and respond you must be able to adapt your style to the people you work with. One-way conversations by managers to dictate strategy is doomed to failure, especially with Millennials. Instead, managers, even if they are from a different generation, should adapt to the culture of the team they are leading. Millennials seek out collaboration, creative thinking, professional freedom and ways to add value. As such, managers should not get too wrapped up in the managerial stereotype, lose the tie and make it their mission to facilitate their teams to have fun at work as that brings out the the best they can be.
3. Bring Your Own Device to the workplace
Millennials are a generation that has grown-up with technology at its fingertips. So, why should their workplace be any different? Their tech-savvy nature should be viewed as an advantage not an IT headache. The technology and social media channels now open to us should provide new platforms for collaboration in and out of the office. Although face-to-face interaction is important, managers mustn’t shrug off tools as ‘not worth the effort’ . Instead, managers should learn from their employees and see how technology can work for them to enhance productivity and add value. Businesses must make a concerted effort to train employees on the tools available to them. Such an approach will soon ensure managers approach digital channels with the same ease as they do more traditional methods.
4. Champion meritocracy
Typically Millennials find corporate hierarchies frustrating and not reflective of the value added. They want their effort and contribution to be recognised and rewarded, not the number of years they have served. Businesses and managers can go a long way towards recruiting and retaining Millennial talent by offering opportunities to those with the skills and the contributions that deserve it. Millennials put as much value on room for career progression as the job description itself. It is no longer the case that employees prefer to stay in one job for most of the professional lives. Now, if a Millennial feels under-appreciated they will simple look for recognition from another organisation. With this in mind, it is in the interest of managers to recognize that deployment and development decisions need to go to those people who have earned it.
5. Be flexible and integrate work and life
The prospect of a workday revolving around a desk is not appealing to Millennials. Variation and flexibility to work schedules are viewed as extremely important. It ensures that employees don’t get bogged down in a repetitive routine and also allows people to have some control over their schedules. With mobile and cloud solutions widely available, there are no obstacles to working efficiently outside the four walls of the office. Millennials in multi-national companies should be allowed to choose when and how they work. Managers enabling their teams to manage their own work/life balance are seeing productivity and morale improve.
It is clear that two-way decision-making, merit-based recognition, a respect for a good work/life balance and a progressive attitude to technology are all essential strategies for a happy workplace. Managers presuming that they know best are shortsighted and will never get the best out of their team. Businesses are constantly looking for a competitive advantage. If managers and Millennials build a relationship where they learn from each other’s strengths, businesses will feel the benefits.
Article by Prithvi Shergill, Chief Human Resources Officer at HCL Technologies