There’s something missing in the Millennial generation, and it’s not master’s degrees. CEOs and employers have noticed a generational gap in soft skills, such as communication and teamwork.
The decrease is due to parenting styles and the generation’s deep immersion in technology. As a result, Millennials haven’t had the opportunities to fail in order to form resilience, and their reliance on instant gratification and self-centeredness from social media impact long-term goals and interpersonal relationships at work.
Now, it might be tempting to ignore this soft skills deficit, but about thirty-five percent of the U.S. labor force is made up of Millennials — surpassing Generation X. Consequently, ignoring Millennials’ needs could jeopardize your company’s current and future success. As a CEO, it’s time to take your part in addressing these areas of improvement.
Why CEOs Must Invest in Soft Skills A VP at a security firm that I’ve worked with says that her younger employees are smarter, but they struggle to think through ambiguous situations and make decisions. Soft skills help make up an individual’s emotional intelligence and also account for ninety percent of promotions. In turn, the reality for CEOs and their Millennial employees is clear: Simply getting by on hard skills means you’re falling behind.
According to PricewaterhouseCoopers’ “CEO Survey,” seventy-seven percent of respondents believe that the biggest threat to their businesses stems from underdeveloped soft skills. After all, not striking a balance between soft and hard skills can limit businesses from maintaining a competitive advantage. In short, consumer attention and money will go elsewhere.
Mental agility, independence, and self-confidence are the top three soft skills that Millennials lack. However, refocusing on these skills could secure a greater ROI for your company.
Four Ways to Help Millennials Develop Their Soft Skills As a leader, you don’t have to sit around and watch your young employees sink. Take the following steps to help them rise to their true potential:
1. Give feedback. The fastest way to develop soft skills in your team is to routinely discuss success and failure. Help Millennials become more comfortable with feedback by sharing your own. Leaders who express their professional weaknesses will be better able to create a trusting relationship where criticism is valued.
2. Make growth visible. Millennials are used to immediacy, so provide ways for them to see progress as they work. Ask Millennials to establish long-term goals, and then break them down into weekly tasks. Use a goal-tracking app like Coach.me, or simply put progress notes on their desktops to provide tangible motivation.
3. Envision success. Don’t let Millennials hide behind company leaders. Encourage them to write their own vision statement for their work, defining the employee they wish to be and the responsibilities that come with that. When supported in this task, Millennials will improve their sense of purpose.
4. Hire an organizational coach. An outside perspective is invaluable. Through my experience as an outside consultant, I’ve noticed that Millennials are more transparent in addressing concerns because they understand I’m not connected to office politics. An outsider can look at a work environment and see clearly what habits are counterproductive and then determine ways to point team members toward success.
Millennials might be scared to fail, but they’re also quick learners, super-collaborators, and ambitious to boot. As a CEO, supporting the younger generation to develop soft skills will ultimately benefit your company as a whole.
Related: Retaining Millennials: What CEOs Need To Know