Millennials already make up a large portion of today’s working population. According to Pew Research, more than one in three workers were millennials in 2015. As their numbers grow and they gain more experience, millennials will take a larger role in company leadership, and specifically in organizational transformation efforts. Their preferences for collaboration and continuous learning, for example, will increasingly impact how individuals approach change. Here are five ways millennials will help lead organizational transformation efforts going forward.
1. Digital Solutions
Millennials are the first generation to have access to digital technology for the better part of their lives, and as such, they’re comfortable finding digital solutions to organizational transformation challenges. In addition to face-to-face communication and coaching, they will be apt to use digital tools to send and reinforce important company messages to motivate employees during times of change. Furthermore, millennials might also be more comfortable using digital methods to create two-way feedback loops that keep employees informed and involved in transformation initiatives.
Perhaps because of the “always-on” availability of digital social interaction, millennials prefer to involve others in their decision-making and enjoy working in groups. One study on millennials in the workplace found that 88 percent prefer a collaborative work culture rather than a competitive one. As a result, millennials in leadership positions will encourage organizational transformations that prioritize team-based discussion and information sharing. Given the importance of collaboration for innovation and strategic growth, millennials’ natural tendency to collaborate will support the development of a culture that embraces change.
3. Continuous Learning and Development
According to the 2018 Deloitte Millennial Survey, eight in 10 millennials said that on-the-job training, continuous professional development, and formal training led by employers were important in helping them perform their best at work. Given the value millennials place on learning and development, as leaders, they will likely look to training as a key source of support for employees who need help adjusting to company change. Skills development training and leadership development can provide employees with useful knowledge in areas that are critical for successful organizational transformation, including communication, process improvement, and teamwork.
4. Frequent Communication and Feedback
Frequent and open communication during times of change is one of the key requirements for successful organizational transformation. Millennials, who typically thrive on frequent communication and feedback, can successfully lead organizational change efforts by taking multiple opportunities to communicate company vision and ways to support the desired change. In addition, because of their high use of digital communication, millennials will lead change by using digital tools such as internal social media and company intranets to communicate the importance of company change efforts.
5. Transformational Leadership
Millennials sometimes get a bad rap—and are even accused of being irreverent—because of their perceived rejection of traditional management. On the contrary, millennials view leadership as a role that empowers others, rather than simply managing them. In a Workplace Trends survey of millennials, 91 percent said they aspired to a position of leadership, and of those, 63 percent said they wanted to be a transformational leader who inspires others with a sense of purpose and excitement. Consequently, millennials will likely lead organizational transformation in a way that relies on a partnership with employees to bring about change, rather than an overt effort to convince or entice employees to change their behavior.
Organizational transformation is no small undertaking; it requires capable leaders who can successfully employ a range of strategies to influence individual behavior. The millennial preference for digital solutions, collaboration, and transformational leadership makes them uniquely suited to lead organizational transformation efforts well into the future.