By 2025, young people will make up roughly 75 per cent of the world’s employees.The problem is they’re so vastly different from the previous generations, it can be a major conflict in the workplace.
Millennials have more unconventional ideas and aren’t afraid to speak them, says Erica Dhawan, an MBA student at MIT and MPA student at Harvard, specializing in Gen Y, which is roughly defined as those born between 1977 and 1997.
Dhawan is also the the co-founder of the Galahads: the Secret Society for Kickass Women, an online community of women leaders, and was asked to speak at this year’s World Economic Forum at Davos about Millennial leaders. She shared with us the biggest differences with the next generation of leaders:
Technology has convinced Millennials that a single voice can make a big difference
“Millennials were raised with technology and social media, and they’re aware that companies are listening and they know those companies are paying attention to social media, blogs and voices of the majority,” Dhawan told us.
“The idea and willingness to ask questions comes from this idealistic energy of youth that we bring and the fact the we have the tools to reach a larger spectrum of people.”
Millennials are the most diverse — and productive — generation in U.S. history
Alicia Blain, founder of Millennial Lab, says “Millennials who have ethnic ties to other countries tend to exhibit values and traits that are more in line with their ethnicity than the generation they fall in.”
This means that although America is witnessing an entrepreneurial age, it is affecting certain groups of people more than others. For example, a white male Millennial may leave a banking job for an entrepreneur position whereas a female Hispanic may stay, Dhawan says. This has a lot to do with values and family expectations.
The good news is that these vast differences make up a happier, more productive workplace. Kristyn Scott, a professor at Ryerson University, says in a study:
When you have an inclusive corporate culture, recruiting top talent becomes easier, group processes will be enhanced, which means employees are more likely to stay, which, in turn, increases the company’s bottom line.
Millennials don’t want to be mentored, they want to be coached
To bridge the generation gap, senior leaders need to take a different approach when training their younger colleagues, because Gen Y has “unconventional ideas, and unconventional times call for unconventional leadership,” Dhawan says. “Younger people are going to be a different type of leader in a way that senior leaders have never experienced or even imagined.”
Instead of training or mentoring, older workers should coach younger people in the workplace.
“Coaching is a model of asking questions, mentoring is providing advice based on one’s experience,” Dhawan told us. “Coaching is more useful because that’s when someone would ask questions to help their colleague reach a solution on their own instead of pushing a solution on to them.”
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