A profound and enduring change is on the horizon for our corporate world. Millennials, those born between 1980 and 2000 are poised to make up the majority of the work force in the next few years. We are about to move from a “manage and mandate” style of leadership to a more interactive approach, where responsibility and decision making is shared. Where work becomes more personally meaningful.

Engaging Millennials is going to take more than just providing them with a pay cheque and quality professional development. Today’s leaders are simply going to have to evolve now, so that collaboration and trust can come more easily later on with the next generation of leaders.

Some of us “older” folk might believe this generation doesn’t care, that they don’t value the current workplace rules. Fact is, they don’t want to be another cog in the wheel where work consists of rigid hours, dress codes, meetings to talk about meetings. Or language that sounds like corporate gobbly gook. Where “it’s always been done that way” reigns supreme. They are a generation of tinkerers and shortcut takers who want the best, most efficient and logical approach.

Some of “older” folk also label them as “entitled”. Could it be that they just don’t have the same value sets and aren’t looking for a life-long career? They want purpose and meaning. In fact about 50% of Millennials say a sense of purpose was the reason they chose to work for their current employer.

The most educated generation in history, this generation Y might be less experienced and more frustrated than previous generations; yet, they have high expectations and optimism about work. They are ambitious, eager to learn and are highly entrepreneurial. We should embrace them.

They leave college or university full of optimism and hope. Armed with a good education they land a job in the “real” world where ambiguity reigns, poor leadership is the norm and antiquated procedures and processes rule. Where a lack of character can be seen far too often. Their sheer numbers make them vitally important as we look to the future. By 2020 they will represent 50% of the global workforce. We should start now to nurture their growth in our companies.

Some say that Millennials struggle with team dynamics. Makes sense given so much of their communication and interaction has been done through technology and social media. They’ve had to learn to do things independently and figure things out on their own in a virtual environment.

My good friend Dr. Ron Jenson tells us the goal to maximize this powerful force is to focus on a combination of skills. Competencies (skills). Chemistry (relating to others). Character (the internal ability to self-mange or self-govern). The bigger more important challenge is the development of Chemistry and Character – something not taught in school or in the workplace.

Addressing some of these concerns is key to your company’s performance, productivity, team efficiency and bottom line results.

Chemistry and Character can be developed. And those companies who take the time to provide candid feedback, coach, mentor and train this next generation of leaders on their own Personal Leadership Effectiveness will thrive.

Got questions on how to do this? You know how to reach me.

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