In a recent article in IndustryWeek Jim Kouzes was quoted as saying that "Collaboration is a social imperative – without it you can't get extraordinary things done in organizations." Not only is collaboration critical to successfully getting things done in organizations, but to the newest generation of workers, namely the Millenials (those born between the years of 1980 and 2000), collaboration is a breaking point. I am talking about the kind of collaboration where your voice is actually viewed as legit and is taken seriously as a viable perspective to contribute to the greater good. This doesn't mean that our opinions have to be agreed with, but it means that we have to feel listened too and that we are contributing to solving meaningful challenges.
Those of you who have had a Millennial in your office you know what I am talking about. We are the type who wants to share our opinion on everything, even when it is not wanted. This is because we grew up sharing our opinion and collaborating. For many of us we collaborated with our parents even about how they disciplined us when we did something wrong. Simply asking what we think will not work.
I was recently reflecting back on my experience in school and figured that by the time I got to college I had already been to at least five trainings and four week long camps where I either learned or taught skills like collaboration, communication, and team work. Nonetheless, my generation is coming to the workforce with a lot of unprecedented skills to share, the companies that will win our allegiance in the up-and-coming labor crunch (your aught to read up on this one) will be those who learn how to value what we have to say and help us contribute to the organization in a meaningful way.
Secondly, if you want the Millenials to come to work for you after college you will have to increase your M-Factor. What do I mean by the M-Factor? The M-Factor is the degree in which employees perceive the organization as contributing to a meaningful cause or the greater good in society. This Generation perhaps more then any other, because they were raised by parents who experience/lived the 70's have an innate desire to contribute to the greater good. As a result when organizations create a vision for their organization that includes influencing the world for the greater good their M-Factor will increase. In turn organizations will do much better in the recruiting arena if they wear their M-Factor on their shirt sleeve.
Now how does all this relate to leadership…many of the top organizations are run by a command and control bureaucratic structure. This type of organizational structure flies in the face of the way Millenials want to be engaged at work. Leaders who have a command and control organization realistically are not going to be able to change their organizational structure overnight, but in the mean time they can carve out a space within the organization where Millenials feel like they can contribute and collaborate for a greater good. Secondly, organizational leaders should take a look at the Ten Commitments correlating with each of The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership. If leaders learn how to lead with The Five Practices, they will be a millennial ahead in engaging the future workforce. In their essence The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership speak vibrantly for the Millennial Generation and our approach to getting things done.
Posted by Daren Blonski