Remember the good old days when HR professionals only had to worry about training individual millennial contributors and entry-level employees? Well, that's over.
In the next six years, almost three-quarters of the U.S. workforce will be Millennials, and many of them will be managers.
As managers, Millennials are different from any generation that's come before them. The average age of a first-time manager is 30. However, the average age that employees receive management training is 42. These emerging leaders give the training they do receive less than stellar reviews.
According to a survey of more than 200 first-time managers ranging in age from 27 to 32, new manager training programs don’t meet their needs.
Some open-ended comments from the survey include, “My generation really doesn’t want to learn from PowerPoints,” and "I like learning about stuff, but the work training isn't very good. I just listen to podcasts, watch TED talks and sometimes read."
New approaches for a new generation of leaders
So, how do Millennial managers want to learn to improve their leadership skills? In our work with dozens of companies and hundreds of people, here’s what we’ve learned.
Make it practical and accessible
Emerging leaders want training that is immediately deployable in their daily activities. They do not have the desire or the time to sit through long periods of learning only to go back out into the real world and try to remember all of it. Address their needs by working with a program that delivers learning in manageable chunks of time, e.g., 90 minutes or less. Make sure that each session is targeted, and focuses on one topic, one call to action and one thing to do. (Pssst, we know one that fits the bill).
Give them a coach
Traditionally, organizations have only hired very expensive coaches for executives. That model isn't realistic to deploy to a larger population. However, coaching and mentoring is a vital desire for new young managers. To meet this need and not break the budget, offer coaching days with an independent party. On these coaching days, emerging leaders can schedule a time slot with a coaching consultant and get the support they need. Often, they don't need a coach that meets with them every week. Instead, they need a trusted resource to go to ask the vulnerable questions that they will not ask in front of their peers.
Share the accountability
Because Millennial managers were promoted at a young age, they're often suddenly put in a position to manage their peers with very little training to do so. Without a hierarchy of age and a more extended acclimation period, this can be a tricky situation to navigate. Help your emerging professionals by training their individual contributors to meet them halfway. Empowering employees to own their career path will create a more collaborative, flat organization and more equal relationships, which aligns with how young managers see the workplace.
Operationalize the small things
Through all this training, emerging leaders will learn what daily actions and conversations they need to engage their employees. Make it easy for them to remember and deploy their training with a tool to help with execution and reminders. Millennials are used to having apps to help them project manage, meditate, exercise and eat—why not give them one to lead too? A tool, such as awesomeboss.com, reminds managers of everything from birthdays to anniversaries and provides more than 50 suggested scripts for feedback conversations.
As companies move quickly to adapt to a volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous world, their management training programs must also do the same. If not, they risk losing the next generation of talent and leadership.