They’re here! They keep coming! They are the Millennials! Our future leaders!

gen y leadership developmentPerhaps you haven’t yet noticed just how many there are. Or, more likely, you haven’t yet had the opportunity to take their arrival seriously. According to Brandon Hall Group’s 2015 Leadership Development, Performance Management, and Learning & Development studies, 80% of organizations have not identified Millennials as a leader population important to target for development, despite the fact they comprise about 40% of our current workforce. That number is expected to jump to 80% or more within the next 10 years.

A few high-performance organizations are taking their arrival and the associated data seriously by accelerating their development. The formula for their success is made up of several critical elements, and starts with empirical data.

3 Critical Data Points

More than one-third (36%) of organizations surveyed in Brandon Hall Group’s just-released leadership development research described their LD practices as below average or poor. More than half of organizations (51%) said their leaders are not prepared to lead their organizations today, and that number jumps to 71% when asked how ready leaders are to lead their organizations into the future. To add insult to injury:

  1. Just 20% of all organizations identified the Millennial leader segment as critical for development over the next 24 months.
  1. Despite the fact that Millennials prefer to learn visually and interactively via their smartphones or tablets, technology-based development approaches rank near the bottom of most frequently used LD delivery methods.
  1. Just 7% of organizations invest in coaching and mentoring Millennials and offering them dedicated time with their CEO and other senior leaders.

3 Business Opportunities That Come Along With Millennials

Millennials are changing the rules of the world in which we live and work. They expect continuous development, and in return, create new business opportunities for organizations everywhere. You can count on Millennials to:

  1. Step-up the technology game in your organization.
  2. Spur and embrace change that so many others despise.
  3. Value global exposure and experience rather than being happy with staying put in the “same old 3rd floor office.”

3 Insights on Engaging Millennial Leaders

To yield the business benefits Millennials bring, they need development. Here are 3 insights based on our quantitative research and interviews with a dozen senior leaders:

  1. Millennials see development, education, communication, information gathering and technology as inseparable.
  2. Millennial leaders crave advice and insights, particularly from senior leadership.
  3. Millennials value mobility and the opportunity to build a personal and professional network.

4 Actions for Developing Millennials and Preparing Them for Success

  1. Coach and praise. In our 2015 State of Learning & Development Study, 61% of organizations plan to increase their use of coaching and mentoring over the next 12 months. Why? Research shows that Millennials’ first-choice employer is one that invests in their ongoing learning and perpetual development. They seek out organizations that provide personal support systems, particularly in-person, one-to-one coaching and mentoring from an organization’s most senior leaders and online “Ask Me” tools. In our research, organizations identified coaching as the second most effective leadership development approach (behind only Experiential/On-the-Job Learning), yet in near last place regarding how frequently it is used. The same story prevails with mentoring – highly effective and rarely used.
  2. Offer “tours of duty.” Our data shows that 73% of Millennials plan to work for five or more different employers over the next five-year period. Therefore, a “tour of duty” approach – the opposite of the tradition long-term commitment – is a good alternative. Millennials are keen to join organizations that allow them to commit to one or two years, achieve one great thing, and then take on another mutually defined mission or go to a different organization and complete its next great thing.
  3. Keep technology at the forefront. Millennials are digital natives embracing today’s technology advances. Therefore, one of the best ways to engage Millennials is to weave in opportunities for social and mobile technology utilization during their learning and development. In the classroom, this may mean using Twitter® or to have groups share the results of a small-group discussion, or Instagram to share photos with each other of their strategy plan. Online, it may mean providing links that learners can access or information feeds pushed to learners after their formal classroom training. And, most certainly it means designing learning content that Millennials can access as they wish and when they wish on their laptop, tablet, or other mobile device.
  4. Build a collaborative and social culture. Millennials are largely social people and simply value collaboration. They enjoy in-person and virtual collaboration as frequently as possible. To get work done, they rely on their digital prowess, social tools, and mobile devices. This generation needs to feel connected, involved, and the camaraderie of being an invaluable member of a team or a community. Our research indicates that more than half of organizations (54%) recognize the business value of immersing Millennials in cooperative and social development, but few (27%) have yet to prioritize team and social learning opportunities that prompt the transformation to a collaborative and social culture.

Until next time …

-Laci Loew, VP and Principal Analyst, Talent Management
Brandon Hall Group

Laci Loew

A principal talent analyst and consultant with Brandon Hall Group, Laci is expert in all areas of human capital management particularly talent management, leadership, leadership development, and succession management. She has worked in the public and private sectors consulting global and matrix Fortune companies across all industries on integrated talent initiatives. Laci holds a bachelor of science from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign; earned her MBA from Keller Graduate School of Management; and is currently a PhD candidate in organizational psychology. Laci’s hometown is Chicago and she is based in Las Vegas.

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