One of my major business goals for this year is to continually improve my keynote speeches. So far, this has involved signing up with a respected speaking coach, taking several high-level online classes and watching a ton of other speakers work their craft.
It has also meant improving the specific takeaways my audiences receive. In every presentation, my hope is that every participant walks away with both high-level inspiration — “Wow! Millennials are a huge asset!” — and specific, tangible actions to take in their organizations right away.
It’s a combination of big picture and little picture; the 30,000-foot view and the right-in-front-of-your-face approach. So far, I’ve found people are really responding to the small takeaways I’ve added to my talks. It’s probably because small changes are often the best place to start. As this NPR story cautioned in describing a company altering its recruiting strategy to better attract millennials, “evolution that happens too quickly can cause problems.”
Here are some of my favorite small changes that you or your organization can implement to better integrate millennials into your multigenerational workplace.
Show Your Work
Let’s bring back the art of the apprenticeship. One of the best ways to learn is by watching an expert, so inviting millennials to observe experienced employees in action is a great way to train them.
For example, if a millennial on your team struggles with her phone manner, invite her to sit and listen to you make calls. If another team member writes too-casual emails, then CC him on more of your messages and invite him to learn your style. The added bonus of this transparency is that the younger employees will have a birds-eye view of the high-level work you do and how much they might have to learn or evolve to get to your position.
Share the Big Picture with Your Team
I recently spoke to one successful manager who sits down with his millennial-heavy team once a week to do a “post-mortem” of everything that happened that week, both positive and negative — including his own performance as their leader. Millennials — and all other generations as well — appreciate his transparency and immediate feedback. Everyone wants to be in the loop and have an opportunity to share an opinion or ask a question.
Get a Mentor from Another Generation
This is probably the tip audiences get most excited about. Find a colleague of another generation and advise each other on working with (or marketing to) your particular age cohorts. This is sometimes called reverse mentoring, co-mentoring or reciprocal mentoring.
For example, I’ve worked with one large cosmetics company that paired each of its senior executives with a millennial employee for a day of shopping “millennial style.” As for me, I’m having some trouble embracing the art of Snapchat (as you’ve probably noticed if you follow me there), so at a recent university presentation I found myself a fantastic millennial Snapchat mentor. She is teaching me the nuances of snaps better than I ever could have figured out on my own.
What small steps have you implemented to better integrate millennials into your team or workplace? Please share in the comments!