During a recent office meeting, a “kid” in his twenties took out his phone and started tapping away. My first reaction? I was offended. After the meeting, we cleared the air. He was taking notes — something well-educated, device-native Millennials do without a second thought — and I realized I needed to relearn how to lead in this multigenerational workforce.
Welcome to a new generation of what it means to work. Leaders everywhere know the world has changed. Learning how to incorporate technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning have made businesses highly data-driven, and it’s forcing us to think about how we sell our goods and services differently.
As CEOs, we have no choice but to acknowledge these shifts. For example, servant leadership is quickly becoming the new normal in management style. While many organizational charts view hierarchies from the top down, servant leadership — or putting the needs of others first — flips it on its head.
Of course, restructuring your corporate flow isn’t a simple process. Our small-staffed, flat company recently devoted resources to reexamining everything from onboarding to workflows to our organizational chart. Part of the impetus for our commitment? Knowing that by 2025, three-quarters of our team members are apt to be Millennials or those from Generation Z. If we don’t stay a few steps ahead of the changes, we’ll risk lagging behind.
Even if your company isn’t groaning under the weight of generation-related friction, you owe it to your shareholders to carefully analyze your business model. Start by taking a few bold steps:
- Fix anything that’s broken.
If a process doesn’t work today, it won’t work tomorrow or next year either. Why hamper your ability to attract future top talent by holding on to an antiquated protocol?
Millennials, in particular, have high standards for the companies they work for. As “The Multi-Hyphen Method” author Emma Gannon has noted, Millennials have little patience for outdated employers. They value their quality of life and will take a smaller paycheck to work on behalf of transparent, modern businesses. If you expect to attract and retain younger employees, make sure your company is as efficient and forward-thinking as possible.
- Go forward with technology.
Rather than be afraid of new tech like bots and artificial intelligence, embrace new technologies. Learn how automating repetitive tasks can improve efficiency, productivity, morale, and customer service. It will not only help your bottom line, but also attract employees.
As noted in a survey from Deloitte, the majority of Millennials view automated technology positively. Your willingness to apply technology will fuel your workers and prove to them that you’re an innovative brand that can adapt to change.
- Manage for immediate progress.
Still conducting annual reviews? Ditch them in favor of constant coaching and day-to-day input. What parent would try to guide his or her kids by giving them a yearly report? The same idea goes for employees. Change the way you manage and incentivize, making daily communication a normal expectation for all managers and team members.
Every generation learns and improves from the past. While my strong work ethic is the same as my father and grandfather, I might manage my workflow and employees differently. Each of us found success by being open-minded and accepting that stagnancy is never a road to longevity.