How Managers Can Better Support And Retain Millennial Colleagues
Millennial turnover is a huge problem for leaders. Millennials account for nearly 40 percent of the American workforce, and by 2025, that number balloons to 75 percent of the global workplace.
“Over 60 percent of millennials leave their company in under three years,” explains Elizabeth McLeod, a Millennial and cum laude grad of Boston University. “And, there are four reasons why Millennials dump their middle-aged managers,” adds McLeod.
She says those reasons are:
- Leaders tolerate low performance
- ROI is not enough of a motivator
- Culture is more than free Panera
- Leaders often treat their employees like a number
Elizabeth McLeod and her mother, Lisa Earle McLeod, are a mother/daughter consulting team whose clients include Google, Roche, Hootsuite, and G Adventures. Lisa is the author of the book, Selling with Noble Purpose.
Lisa Earle McLeod
The mother/daughter duo awhile back shared their insights about Millennials in the workforce and how managers can better support and retain their Millennial colleagues.
1. How does leaders tolerating low performance cause Millennials to disengage with their middle-aged managers?
When leaders tolerate low performance, it’s management’s way of saying, “Mediocre is the bar here.” Boats rise or fall to the level of the ocean. As younger employees, Millennials are always assessing the level of the ocean. Millennials well remember which teachers pushed you and which teachers did not. If it becomes clear that being lazy and uninspired is all you need to keep your job, it will quickly become the default attitude around the office.
2. If ROI is not a motivator for Millennials, what are the motivators?
Everyone, regardless of age wants their work to matter. What’s different about Millennials is that they are giving to their parent’s unspoken aspiration. Millennials are more vocal than previous generations about wanting higher purpose in their work, because for them it is an expectation, not an aspiration. Higher purpose doesn’t have to mean saving the world; it can be improving the lives of their customers or making an impact on their industry.
3. What is a purpose-driven company?
A purpose-driven company is a company that with a clear Noble Sales Purpose (NSP). For example one of our clients is Flight Centre, their Noble Sales Purpose is – We care about delivering amazing travel experiences. Another client is Roche – their purpose is – Doing now what patients need next.
A clearly articulated NSP answers the three big discovery questions:
- How do you make a difference?
- How do you do it differently than your competition?
- On your best day what do you love about your job?
Your NSP is the jumping off point for a Noble Purpose strategy that infuses every aspect of your business.
Purpose-driven companies outperform the market by 353%. They have better customer retention, less employee turnover, and attract more innovative talent.
4. What do leaders need to do to create a purpose-driven company?
One of the essential tasks of a leader is to bring meaning into the mundane. What that means is connecting the dots between daily tasks, and a higher purpose.
A recent Towers Watson study revealed that employees who derive meaning and significance from their work were more than three times as likely to stay with their organizations — the highest single impact of any variable in our survey. These employees also reported 1.7 times higher job satisfaction and they were 1.4 times more engaged at work.
Connecting positions and projects back to the customer and emphasizing the impact of the position or project on the bigger picture is crucial.
5. Why are Millennials driven by purpose?
All people are driven by the need for purpose and meaning. The big difference with Millennials is that they won’t work without it. In most cases, Millennials don’t have large financial obligations; this enables them to quit jobs that don’t satisfy their intrinsic needs.
A Millennial will quit and leave a job, with no purpose. An older worker, with financial obligations, will quit and stay. The result is a disengaged employee, which is often even more costly than the one who left.
6. What couple things can a leader start doing tomorrow to better manage Millennials?
Name and claim your Noble Purpose. Be absolutely explicit about the impact you have on customers. Repeat it often. Connect the dots between every single job to the impact it has on customers.
7. What couple things can Millennials start doing tomorrow to better manage their middle-aged bosses?
- Manage Up. Do not expect your boss to connect the dots between your work and customer impact. Ask your boss about the impact of your job and the effect your work is having on customers. Talk it through with them when time isn’t pressing. Tell them why your work matters to you and ask them to do the same. It won’t always be comfortable. In fact, it will almost surely be uncomfortable at first. But it forces a conversation surrounding impact instead of bottom line. The first one is always the hardest.
- Make your boss successful. Your boss is getting pressure from her boss. Find out how your boss is evaluated. Make that part of your job. Recognize, the tables have turned, work is a reversal of school. In school, your teachers focused on helping you be successful. Now you need to focus on your boss and the organization. Our father (and grandfather) Jay Earle always said, No matter what your job, a big part of your responsibility is to make your boss successful.
- Don’t default your own happiness. Purpose and happiness aren’t handed out by the boss like free lunch or a company cell phone. It’s a process of connecting your work to something bigger than yourself, and taking responsibility for creating your own positive environment.
8. How different are the dynamics in today's workplace (Millennials and Middle-aged Managers) from other generational divides during the past 50 years?
The work place is a constantly evolving machine. The world of work has changed significantly in the last 10 years, and it will change at an even faster rate in the future. Millennials are the first generation to come of age in the sharing culture. Middle-aged managers’ early lives were shaped by authority figures and gatekeepers. Millennials were shaped by the culture at large, the cyber community who liked and shared information.
This is first time in history a group of people have come of age whose opinions could be widely expressed, and commented upon almost from birth forward. Enabled by technology, and empowered by their parents to believe their voices mattered, the Millennials are bringing a new sense of democracy to the workplace.
This evolution has already happened in the consumer marketplace, where buyers have more power than suppliers because they can effect public perception. It’s now moving into the employment marketplace. Millennials have upended the world of work, in ways that will have lasting impact. Savvy leaders recognize the change and are nimble enough to move toward it.