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Supporting Future Leaders Today – Millennial Leadership Development

A large healthcare organization is putting on a leadership development seminar for high potential next generation talent.  A thirty-year-old woman walks into the seminar and takes a seat, flipping to her phone to view incoming emails as the lights dim and a slide deck appears on the screen.  “I’ve seen this presentation before,” she thinks, as she turns back to her phone and tunes out the bulk of the presentation.

Across the city, a newly-placed manager at a retail organization struggles as a first-time leader and asks for support from his organization.  While leaders in levels above him receive coaching and targeted programming, he is left waiting and frustrated.

Are we setting up the Millennial Generation for success as the next leaders of our organizations?  Not likely.

There are limited, if any, leadership development programs truly directed at Millennials.  If there are, organizations are utilizing existing models that have worked for past leaders, not the next generation of leaders.

Deloitte estimates that Millennials will make up 75% of the global workforce by 2025.  Even so, per Brandon Hall Group’s 2015 State of Leadership Development study, leadership development of Millennials isn’t seen as a priority of organizations.  The study found that only 20% of organizations identified Millennials as critical for development over the next 24 months.

The math is astounding – 75% of the global workforce by 2025 with only 20% of current organizations identifying the need as critical.  Even more discouraging is how much Millennials crave coaching and feedback on performance, yet only 7% of organizations are investing in offering Millennials coaching or mentoring services, according to the Brandon Hall Group study.

Anyone who googles the words “Millennials” and “Work” can find a plethora of resources on engagement of Millennials, recruitment of Millennials, how to manage them, how to retain them, how they’re changing the work environment.  The two words you don’t see associated as often?  Leadership and Development.

The bottom line? Identify High-Potential Millennials + Invest.

What does that investment look like and how can we change traditional programs to meet the needs of the next generation?

Think about it – you wouldn’t take an iPod from 2010 and attempt to gift it to a 21-year old today using Spotify.  Speaking from a Millennial perspective, we don’t want traditional classroom-led mandatory training programs.  We want to be able to learn new behaviors and techniques and practice them in our day-to-day.  We want to connect with peers in a social networking format to talk about how it is going and reflect on experiences via blogs and social media.  We want coaching and mentoring opportunities – earlier than we are currently getting them.  You want to retain Millennials long term? Show them that you are invested in and care about their long-term career development.

Why else is there a need to change the traditional way of presenting leadership development for the Millennial Generation?  Let’s review the landscape we’re likely to face.  Lighting-speed change, slower economic growth, continued explosion and demand for big data, and shifting views on diversity combined with how Millennials like to lead should be informing and influencing the programs created.

Let’s ensure we are building an environment and construct that will support future leaders of our organizations today.  A significant first step would be to invest in coaching for your high-potential Millennial leaders.  Beyond this, building or taking part in training opportunities targeting Millennials would help to institutionalize investment in key talent.

To learn more about coaching programs and training opportunities for Millennials, contact Ally at  Ally Pearson, M.A. is a consultant with Bridges, a Minneapolis-based organizational effectiveness consulting firm.

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