It’s only a matter of time. Why bury your head in the sand and ignore the inevitable?
According to the forthcoming updated Gallup® survey on the State of the American Workplace, millennials comprise 38% of today’s workforce. Millennials will comprise 75% of the workforce by 2026.
How are you hybridizing and future-proofing your team’s hiring practices? My advice: start retooling and recalibrating your cultural mindset and hiring practices today.
Focus on hybridizing your current teams: make them multi-generational and collaborative.
Stop living in fear (“The millennials are coming! The millennials are coming!”). Assess the State of Your Own Workplace. It’s multigenerational – at least it should be by now.
Generational team diversity is a good thing. Does your current corporate culture run on an age-related power hierarchy model? This scenario is a tough order, particularly for engineering companies, where experience does matter and is reflected in various experience- and certification- based hiring practices.
What to do?
Consider how your corporate culture pays attention to everyone’s opinions and perspectives. New millennial hires may be closer to innovative technologies than Gen X and Boomer team members. Provide continuous opportunities to collaborate. Share experience, best practices, new thinking and “What if?” When the cultural focus is team collaboration, employees keep up with what’s current, what’s worked in the past and what’s next.
Changing workplace dynamics through team collaboration creates a trickle-down effect. When round-table collaboration becomes a regular practice, instead of a special one-and-done “event” more teams will buy in to the concept. Team design solutions start to reflect fresh thinking that differentiates your company from competitors. Conversations across departments and colleagues become more innovative. Everyone – including leadership and management – thinks from “What if?” mindset.
Develop a process for multi-generational leadership development.
Some companies hire millennials for team leadership positions based on track records of revenue generation, particularly in the finance and sales arenas. These millennials have hybridized skillsets: they are energetic, passionate, conversational, inquisitive, technology-conversant and socially savvy. They are naturals to represent your brand in the marketplace. Younger hires want your brand to make a difference and they want to make a difference in the world.
Is your corporate culture full of mid-career GenX-ers, patiently waiting their turn to lead teams by following prescriptive status quo behavior? Uh-oh. You will have problems that your company may not have anticipated.
Prepare your current workforce for the inevitability of millennial team leadership. The Gallup workforce survey discusses how employee engagement catalyzes business growth and reduces employee turnover. How is your current corporate culture creating an environment where leaders, managers and employees collaborate? When everyone is engaged, your corporate culture creates a sense of mutual well-being and commitment to company sustainability.
This concept challenges organizations with hierarchical business models and status quo leadership and management practices.
What to do?
Start small to create a ripple effect throughout your organization. Some of the best teams I’ve ever coached had a rotating team leadership model. Depending on the skill sets needed throughout a project, some of us led and some of us followed. Everyone mentored everyone else – regardless of generation. This strategy allows team members to flex their intellectual muscles, collaborate more effectively and develop their leadership skill sets.
Stop hiring young and cheap.
Your organization can no longer afford to hide from or ignore the inevitability of the hybridized workforce. Status quo hiring practice reinforces the status quo: younger hires won’t cost you as much as older, more experienced hires.
Hire for collaboration. Hire for team leadership. Hire for team engagement. Regardless of generation. Otherwise your organization perpetuates their costly revolving door HR (human resources) habits. Younger employees acquire experience and leave for greener and more lucrative pastures after “putting in their time” with your organization.
What does your employee turnover scenario look like? Are you constantly training someone else’s valued employee, manager, leader?
What to do?
Focus on creating a hybridized workforce. Develop an environment where employees engage with each other, commit to the growth of your enterprise and receive opportunities to grow professionally, together.
Start small and think bigger with each iteration. That’s a recipe for hiring a hybridized workforce to sustain your business.
Babette N. Ten Haken is a strategist, analyst, author and blogger. Her focus: the interrelationship between teams, leadership and culture in technology and manufacturing. Her Workshops target excellence in the execution of strategy. Babette began her career in clinical research where she was asked to bring clarity to stalemated cross-functional conversations. Her Playbook of collaboration hacks, Do YOU Mean Business? is available on Amazon.com. She writes for IBM, Penton, and other brands in the technology sector.
Photo courtesy iStock.