Last week, I wrote about the war for talent that many agencies are enduring. I promised some practices that would help on the road to retaining Millennial talent. I hope that you are able to implement some of these initiatives in your organization. Here they are:
Trust building- Building trust takes time. However, from the beginning, align your words and your actions. When there is a disconnect between a leader's words and actions, employees are less likely to become engaged and committed to the organization. Building trust is worth the effort because once trust is lost, it can be very difficult, if not impossible, to recover. Developing trust also requires modeling the behavior you want your team to display. Remember your response, influence employee action, and has the potential to drive or ruin their results. If you say teamwork is essential, reinforce the point by collaborating across teams and functions. Give credit where credit is due, and you'll set the stage for an appreciative culture. Finally remember that when you and other leaders acknowledge your mistakes as well as successes, employees see you as credible and trustworthy and will follow your lead.
Communicate and listen- Even when it's difficult, tell the truth and not just what you think people want to hear. Practice the adage, "praise in public, counsel in private." Leaders should understand what employees need to know and communicate facts while being considerate of their effort and sensitivity to their feelings. This includes showing support and understanding for your team members, even when they make mistakes. It goes a long way toward building trust as a leader. Also, practice active listening and check for understanding by repeating back what you heard. Use a variety of feedback tools to ensure everyone has the chance for their voice to be heard. Some organizations have incorporated a modified version of the retrospective (from Agile Project Management) to make sure everyone from the group is heard. Employees must be engaged in dialogue to allow them to ask questions, get answers, express an opinion, and voice concerns. Then, apply what your internal stakeholders share for future actions.
Work on your EQ- Emotional Intelligence is a fundamental skill for all leaders. Here’s a terrific definition of EQ: "Emotional intelligence is grounded in everyday smarts: we want to stay, hang around, work, and do business with people who are likable, supportive, enthusiastic, and trustworthy. In contrast, we tend to avoid people who are difficult to be with, easily irritable, and negative." If you are having challenges in this area, consider using some third-party training.
Continuous improvement- No one wants to work in an organization or a team that feels inert. Approach situations with a "what can we do better" mindset. Also, be on the lookout for new techniques and technologies that can better your team's performance. One approach might be to assign one of your Millennial team to access new tech tools. This is a win-win as it will appeal to the Millennial as they see themselves as tech-savvy and will communicate your trust in their ability.
Coach- No one really wants to be managed, but they will accept coaching. A 2018 Gallup Poll says that employees "whose manager is always willing to listen to their work-related problems are 62% less likely to be burned out." Coaching is a two-way communication method that aims at influencing and developing the employee. One of the most critical aspects of coaching is that it teaches critical-thinking, which eventually leads to self-reliance. In my experience, the most effective leaders guide the team member and then get out of the way.
Be values-driven- Millennials are engaged by understanding how their work changes the world. At a certain ECM ISV company whose main client is state and local government (Laserfiche) found that their Millennial employees were especially intrigued with stories about how the product helped the staff assist residents during a hurricane. Help your team connect their work with the mission and goals of the organization. Another company set up charitable days where the employees could volunteer at a non-profit of their choice instead of coming into work one day per quarter.
Encourage autonomy and flexibility- Autonomy is the human need to perceive that people have choices and that they are the source of their own actions. Give your employees as much flexibility and autonomy as you are able. Use your coaching to help employees help themselves. Gallop says "employees are 43% less likely to experience high levels of burnout when they have a choice in deciding what tasks to do when to do them and how much time to spend on them." How leaders frame communications either promotes the likelihood that the staff member will perceive autonomy or unsettles it.
Give them the tools they need- You’ll guess, I’m talking about technology. Millennials (and frankly most workplaces today) expect to work in the digital world. I know that I’ve heard much positive feedback about Laserfiche from Millennials. In particular, they like search-and-retrieval the robust workflow, and the App. In my experience, Millennials appreciate efficiency. One idea I had is to have the team document your workflows and then have a contest to see who can build the most efficient workflow.