Succession Planning For Millennials: Nurturing The Leaders Of Tomorrow

Edward Fleischman, CEO and Founder of The Execu|Search Group, recently wrote an op-ed outlining the misconceptions many professionals have about millennials.  While they are often stereotyped as selfish, lazy, or addicted to social media, Edward outlined points that suggest that while they may still be young, millennials are actually very hard-working.

However, just like any generation, millennials do have their own unique set of needs.  While many employers have caught onto those needs, some may still be wondering what millennials are looking for in an employer and why they should alter their practices to accommodate them.  According to Forbes, more than 1 in 4 millennials are now in managerial roles, and this number will only continue to grow.  For organizations that want to orchestrate a smooth transition into a millennial-dominated work force, strategically addressing their needs in the following areas will set the company up for long-term success:

Recognize potential

While you may feel as though some of your millennial employees are not yet ready for a leadership position, learn to recognize the signs of a potential leader, and focus your efforts on nurturing those employees.  As a result, providing measured professional development opportunities will help to guide them in their eventual transition to a leadership role.  For example, an employee who displays excellent communication skills or high emotional intelligence could one day make an effective manager.  By providing them the experience that will help them learn and fill in their knowledge gaps, they can become an indispensable asset to the organization.

Show millennials you trust them

While many employers are often hesitant to invest in millennials who may leave the organization before such an investment pays off, many millennials leave their company for exactly that reason.  Once you recognize those professionals who you believe can grow within the organization, it is important to prove that you are prepared to make a long-term investment in them.  Without rebuilding this trust that has been lost between an employer and their employee, it is unlikely that they will stay.  By offering those employees new learning opportunities and projects that help keep their skills up-to-date, they will be more likely to feel satisfied.  Additionally, allowing them more autonomy over their work will show that you inherently trust that they are a competent employee.

Promote work-life balance

Because they grew up in the technology era, millennials have difficulty powering down from work.  As a connected generation, they are constantly checking email, even on weekends and late at night.  Additionally, entering the workforce during a recession has made them wary of unemployment, and millennials will often go to extra lengths to prove that they are indispensable to an employer.  According to Harvard Business Review, more millennials forfeit unused vacation days than older generations—even though as younger workers, they earn less time off.  While it may be nice to see employees working hard, this trend means that many millennials actually have an unhealthy work-life balance.  Keep in mind that a burned out employee is no good to your organization, and encourage millennial employees to unplug and take time off when needed.

Step up your communication

In order to recognize and nurture leadership potential in your younger employees, you may need to spend a little more time getting to know them.  By opening up the lines of communication, you can allow them to place more trust in you and tell you what’s on their mind.  Plus, when you learn more about what each individual is looking for out of their job, you can better accommodate each employee, creating an environment that will make it more likely that they will rise through the ranks at your organization.  On top of that, be sure to let employees know if you feel they are on track for a leadership role—those who know that they are up for a promotion will be likely to work harder and stay motivated.