Wise Leaders Embrace “Benign Subversives”

Benign Subversives

We all hate naysayers, snipers and back room gossips. They subvert our vision, undermine our message and divert attention from our objectives. They must be rooted out, disciplined, fired!

“Men in authority will always think that criticism of their policies is dangerous. They will always equate their policies with patriotism, and find criticism subversive.” ~ Henry Steele Commager

Valuing the Truth

I understand you, I really do. But if you are to excel as a leader you must develop a taste for high quality. sometimes unpalatable,  knowledge about the “State of the nation.”

You need to discern clearly between corrosive people and other people who simply don’t see it your way, but are nonetheless well-meaning and really want the organisation to succeed.

These are the “Benign Subversives.”

As a leader, you should embrace them as important allies, uncomfortable as it may be at first!

Recognizing the Benign Subversives

How can you recognise Benign Subversives and how best to employ their energy? The answer is to re-frame your impression of them and their objectives and see how you can learn from them in support of your own strategy and aims.

History is littered with examples of leaders, organisations and even governments whose drive to uphold an increasingly untenable core vision mutates into self-fulfilling “groupthink.” The organisation ends up assuming the best of everything and never prepares for the worst.

Schlomo Ben Hur, Nikolas Kinley and Karsten Jonsen describe this destructive scenario wonderfully in their paper “Coaching Executive Teams to Reach Better Decisions.”

“Leaders can get stuck in groupthink because they’re really not listening, or they’re listening only to what they want to listen to, or they actually think they’re so right that they’re not interested in listening. And that leads to a lot of suboptimal solutions in the world.” ~Jacqueline Novogratz

The Benign Subversive is Your Antidote

Leaders readily employ expensive external executive coaches to assist in their personal quest for understanding and success. They accept their challenges and inconvenient observations and pay highly for the privilege.

Great coaches act like human mirrors showing their clients the truth in their thinking, feeling and acting.

If you re-frame each internal Benign Subversive in this role you’ll see them as a positive force for purposeful change not an enemy.

Recalibrating Your Team

If you publicly affirm their valuable contribution and encourage them, the quality of their contribution improves as they become more internally motivated.

What’s more, other less assertive people will begin to contribute.

The richness and utility of this transparent information stream is the granular intelligence that great leaders and organisations thrive upon. For a research perspective De Dreu and West concluded in 2001 that, “minority dissent stimulates creativity and divergent thought, which, through participation, manifest as innovation.”

What the Benign Subversive observes may remain inconvenient and uncomfortable, but is a vital contribution to avoiding failure or achieving success. Rely on them to give you another view, one which would otherwise be invisible to you.

As leader you then have the choice to accept or reject their views but at least your decisions will be based on more complete information.

Remember this…

“It is easy to believe in freedom of speech for those with whom we agree.” ~Leo McKern

Taking the Next Steps

Now consider this:

  • Notice who in your team or organisation exhibits the characteristics of a Benign Subversive. How do you view them – problem or solution?
  • Gently encourage objective, non-judgemental observation and criticism; how do people respond? Decide how best to exhibit meaningful responses.
  • Notice the balance between your positive constructive versus negative destructive criticism is response your team or organisation reports to you.
  • How do you react emotionally to a report who disagrees with you or brings you inconvenient news?
  • Notice what happens when you receive objective criticism with a simple “Thank you I will definitely consider what you say”.

Recommended Reading
Managing Corporate Communications in the Age of Restructuring, Crisis, and Litigation: Revisiting Groupthink in the Boardroom by David Silver

Get your free mini-version of “Your Personal Leadership Book of Days – Avoid Cookie Cutter Solutions by Using Your Adaptive Intelligence,”

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 Gary Coulton

Dr Gary R Coulton is CEO of Adaptive Intelligence Consulting Limited
He empowers leaders to release their Adaptive Intelligence
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Leaders: Are You Serving Wine In The Office?

A while back the following question was asked by one of my team members who had resigned and I was trying to retain him:

“Are you serving wine in the office?”

He was a great performer with never-say-die attitude that used to inspire the entire team. His question certainly did make me think, but at that time I didn’t consider it to be an important one in the perspective of employee retention.

A Change of Perspective

Now I realize that he was simply asking some important questions:

  • Do you know what I need?
  • Whether organization can meet my needs?
  • What recommendations my manager is authorized to make?
  • What can be done by senior management & HR for a person without making exceptions?
  • What exceptions can be made for a performer like me?

My suggestion to the managers in my team has been to understand these questions and be prepared with the answers before discussing anything with the employee. Direct the employee to senior managers or HR guys to get answers for the questions you can’t answer or don’t have answers for.

Many of us make the common mistakes while negotiating with the people in order to retain them and we repeat the same mistakes again and again! Here are some of the common mistakes:

Common Mistakes in Trying to Retain Employees

Here are some of the common mistakes that leaders make when trying to retain employees:

Not ready with answers to above mentioned questions

Many managers (myself included!) have this instinct for contributing in a crisis situation without preparation. My recommendation is to understand the cause of the resignation first and then prepare well before trying to retain the employee.

Comparing the skill & performance with peers at the same (or even higher) level

Managers do this to boost the ego of the person and to highlight his/her importance. This might work sometimes that too with average performers but smarter guys always know about their real performance level and standing in a team.

At the end of it, manager loses respect in front of the team – I can tell you that such conversations travel at a higher speed than light and you can’t hide it!

Over-committing the role/designation/compensation

At times we become too passionate to retain the employee and tend to over commit. Sometimes managers are not even authorized to commit change of designation/compensation but still commit. It is dangerous, because quite often organizations don’t agree to making exceptions unless person is too critical or strategic for the larger organization.

It is a good practice to recommend a change of role. If there is one already which suits this person, go ahead and recommend.

If you don’t have a role for a true performer, try to create one. You’ll not only have a successful retention case but will also have a motivated employee.

Avoid assuring or recommending anything like designation/compensation change without having a prior approval. Otherwise employee would expect a change because you discussed it with him/her. I have faced situations where person took the resignation back and mentioned the reason as ‘promotion or salary change commitment made by my manager’ and senior management was in red as they had no clue about the promise made by manager.

This is very difficult situation to be in; and

  • If HR/management disagrees, manager loses credibility. Organization may lose two guys (employee & manager) in place of one
  • If HR/management agrees, this becomes a bigger problem for the organization as employee may quote in the public about ‘resignation as a successful tool’ to negotiate on promotion/compensation. Even the managers (including the successful one whose team member got promoted!) will quote this as an example in future
  • In any case, people will question the ‘fairness’ in the organization

Changing the reporting manager quickly

A lot of resignations happen due to ‘my manager does not understand/like me’ phenomenon. Changing the assignment (hence the manager) works well for retaining good guys, but if you make the change quickly you will face a bigger problem. Change in assignment is typically done by higher level of managers along with HR.

They shouldn’t commit a quick change and it should be done by taking the reporting manager in confidence about the proposed change. Well thought transition plan should come from the manager. Employee will be able to get the objective & importance of transition.

Offering the wrong role

Sometimes managers offer the roles to employees that are not meant for them. I might have an important & vacant role, and a performer who has just resigned. I play the role of a mathematician and a manager who likes the employee and hence I offer this position to him/her.

Mathematically, the position is filled and I feel proud to have managed a problem. And three months later, I crib about retaining a person who was not worth it!

By the way I was able to retain my guy at that time!

So what are some of the mistakes that you might have made in trying to retain a valuable employee? What are some of the successes you have had? I would love to hear your thoughts on best practices!

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Madan Mewari

Madan Mewari is the Global Head for Delivery and Operations of eDynamic LLC
He has lot of experience in building large & high performance teams
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Startup Success: The 7 Most Common Mistakes New Entrepreneurial Leaders Make

Entrepreneurs bring a lot of self-confidence to the table. Most abandon careers, often lucrative careers, at which they excelled to become their own bosses. This is generally a boon to their young business.

However, their high confidence levels and competence at their previous careers can lead them to make a number of common, avoidable mistakes.

Here are a few to watch out for.

The 7 Most Common Mistakes New Entrepreneurial Leaders Make

1) Not Delegating

Many, if not most, entrepreneurial ventures start out as one-person operations. The entrepreneur does everything, from bookkeeping and marketing to product development. Once the business reaches a point where more staff can be brought in, a lot of entrepreneurs find it difficult to let go of managing every detail; they insist on doing or rechecking everything.

This approach, no matter how understandable, is a waste of employee time. Even worse, though, it’s wasted time the entrepreneur could better spend on developing new products, making new industry contacts or closing new deals. One of the best pieces of advice on delegating comes from Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Media.

He said,

“The trick is to start promoting from within on day one. I’m not just referring to moving people to new positions, but giving all employees enough flexibility to take on new responsibilities within their current jobs.”

2) Avoiding Professional Financial Advice

Entrepreneurs frequently attempt to manage their finances themselves, and often with disastrous results. Unless the entrepreneur happens to be an accountant starting a company, startup owners shouldn’t try to manage their own finances. A good accountant can keep a startup on the right side of tax payments and help develop a coherent salary strategy.

3) Failing to Diversify

It’s easy for entrepreneurs to develop tunnel vision about their product or service offering. They spend vast amounts of time thinking about, refining, and pitching it. That hyper-focus, while advantageous in the beginning, can work against a startup after it gets established. Frequently there are opportunities to diversify products and services into closely related areas. One such company that managed to avoid this pitfall is Vivint.

The company started as a home security company. Vivint reviews and customer insights pushed the company to expand into home automation, home energy management and then into home solar power. Each move followed logically, or built on the experience, from the one before. Allow your company to evolve to what the customer needs, and you’ll ensure success in the years to come.

4) Trying to Please Everyone

Almost no product or service is right for every customer, yet startups often try to build products and services for everyone. In the long run, this approach leaves customers cold. A fully-fledged piece of enterprise resource planning software meant for large corporations is probably not the right software for a small business, and vice versa.

The entrepreneur that focuses on a specific target market and builds for that market stands a much better chance of making actual sales.

5) Rushing the Hiring Process

When it comes time to hire, entrepreneurs often take the first qualified person that applies. The reasons can seem very pragmatic. For example, the company needs someone for X process to free up the rest of the team to focus on business development.

While the business might get lucky with an ideal hire, rushed hires often wind up a bad fit for the company.

Startup organizational structures tend toward the horizontal. Someone steeped in the vertical structures common in established corporations may find the transition difficult and prove more disruptive than helpful. Taking the time to find the right personality, even if that personality comes with less experience, usually pays off in less stress and more productivity.

6) Launching Too Late

Trying to perfect the product before launching gives competitors time to put out a similar, less sophisticated product and capture an unassailable portion of the market share. Eric Ries, author of “The Lean Startup,” advocates for building and releasing the most minimal possible version of the product, soliciting customer feedback and refining based on that feedback.

While this approach works best with software, startups can apply it to other products. The company can always improve an existing product, but only one company launches first. Reid Hoffman, founder of LinkedIn, offers similar advice. As he told Kissmetrics, if you’re not embarrassed by the way your company looks when you first launch, then you are late to launch.

7) Ignoring Advice from Other Entrepreneurial Leaders

Everyone offers opinions, but some opinions matter more than others. Ignoring the advice of established entrepreneurs, or not seeking their advice at all, puts a new entrepreneur at a competitive disadvantage. Building up a support system of other entrepreneurs and business mentors creates a place to vent, bounce ideas and learn vicariously.

Entrepreneurs, out of overconfidence or inexperience, make a number of common mistakes. Those mistakes range from the annoying to the disastrous. By avoiding these common mistakes, the entrepreneur positions a startup for a much better chance of success.

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Robert Cordray

Robert Cordray is a freelance writer with over 20 years of business experience
He does the occasional business consult to help increase employee morale
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On Leadership, Change and East African Wildebeest

Wildebeests

Like a wildebeest in East Africa, successful leaders must dare to change.

Great Wildebeest Migration

The spectacular wildebeest migration in East Africa has been touted as one of the seven new wonders of the world. Between July and October every year, up to a million wildebeest migrate from the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania, and cross the border into the Masaai Mara National Reserve in Kenya.

In the Masaai Mara, the wildebeest have to cross the Mara river – sometimes several times – to get to lush plains on the other side of the river. Each year as they plunge across the river, many thousands drown or are killed by crocodiles lurking in the murky waters.

The wildebeest that survive the crossing make their way to the plains, where they are stalked and hunted down by lions, cheetahs and leopards.

Why Take the Risk?

Anyone unfamiliar with this phenomenon might wonder why the animals take a journey that is fraught with so much danger. Well, the migration follows change in the feeding habitat of the wildebeest, so the animals have to move from the South to the North where they can find adequate grazing and water.

Let’s consider their options.

  • Should they ‘choose’ to remain in the Serengeti and not migrate, the pasture will be insufficient to sustain all their numbers throughout the year. And any that survive will be weak and become easy prey for predators.
  • On the other hand, making the journey to the Mara exposes them to possible death – and thousands die annually along the way. The animals that survive however find adequate pasture and water to keep them alive.

Theirs is a world where, to borrow the words of Randall White, Phillip Hodgson and Stuart Crainer in ‘The Future of Leadership’ the wildebeest “…have to change to survive; and, paradoxically, where the very act of change increases the risk that (they) won’t survive.”

It is a world of risk and opportunity; potential loss and gain. In short, one where change is absolutely necessary, and yet takes great courage.

So, what lessons can we draw from these animals, as we consider our options in life?

Lessons for Life and Business

1) Recognize the Need to Change

Whether you’re leading a team, running an organization – business or otherwise – or working on a personal project, you know that change is imminent.

Resources run out, people working with you change or move on, the external environment changes.

Therefore, as you make progress in your chosen undertaking, put in place contingency plans to help you stay on course when the inevitable changes occur. Don’t be caught unawares and therefore become a victim.

2) Take Action

When it’s time to take the next step, follow through without backtracking. In the wildebeest migration, the dangers are real – the ranging waters of the Mara, and the crocodiles in them.

But the herds cross anyway.

When you take up a leadership position, know full well that you will be leading your followers to unchartered territories and face success or failure by taking risks. In so doing, you raise yourself to scrutiny, judgment and criticism. Face the fear and do it anyway.

Alternatively, you invest your money in a project with a high probability of either success or failure. If you’ve done due diligence up to this point and have no compelling reason to hold back any longer, proceed with your planned course of action.

3) Don’t Relax

Some people taste success and then relax, struck by the deadly “destination disease.” Even after the wildebeest reach the Mara plains, they still face predators. Some cows lose their young calves and decide to go back through the waters and along the tracks to look for them.

Away from the big herds, they become easy prey for predators and often don’t survive attacks. The journey is not over. Likewise in life and business, one failure or victory does not mark the end of the journey.

Rather, it prepares you for the next section of the trip that you must continue on. Take too much time lamenting a failure or celebrating a success and you become discouraged or complacent, unable to take the next step. So, whatever happens, don’t lose sight of the journey ahead. In the words of the late South African leader Nelson Mandela:

“After climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb.”

Keep climbing. Keep changing. Keep growing.

Bonus – Fun fact

“Wildebeest calves gain their feet faster than the young of any other ungulate.” – Jonathan Scott’s Safari Guide to East African Animals. They stand within two to five minutes of birthing, and can run with the herd shortly thereafter – even outrunning a lioness!

What changes do you need to make in your personal or professional life? What is the next step in the plan and when will you take it? How will you handle potential setbacks brought about by either failure (discouragement) or success (complacency)?

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Joyce Kaduki

Mrs. Joyce Kaduki is a Leadership Coach, Speaker & Trainer
She enjoys working with Individuals & Teams to help them Improve their Results
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Building Better Relationships, Building Better Business

Organizational Love

As an organizational communication professional, my goal is to help organizations do what they do, better. And I am very passionate about it!  

My earnest belief is that whether in a corporate, nonprofit, institutional, or government environment, employees are an organization’s greatest resource.

As such, developing and maximizing mutually beneficial relationships within and beyond the organization is critical to enhance satisfaction and effectiveness.

This is particularly true of leadership as their influence is so pervasively intertwined with the culture of the organization that it influences everything that occurs within that organization.

Types of Organizational Relationships

There are several types of organizational relationships:

  • Superior-subordinate
  • Peer-to-peer
  • Friendships

As well as the relationships with nonmembers, such as those between an organization and its various publics, including

  • Clients
  • Vendors
  • Contractors
  • And so forth.

Regardless of the level of connectedness, there are characteristics common to all relationships that must be considered to ensure that is rewarding to both parties.  Hon and Grunig developed guidelines for measuring relationships as a tool for public relations practitioners to assess the value of their programs.

These guidelines also serve as an excellent framework for examining our relationships, both organizational and interpersonal, to help reflect on areas which may need some attention to enhance the mutual rewards to all parties involved.

6 Components of Relationships

Hon and Grunig identify six components of relationships:

1) Control Mutuality

While balance in a relationship is key to its success, at varying times in the relationship one party will exercise greater control over the other. Control mutuality reflects the understanding between parties that this imbalance will occur, and recognizes (and accepts) that one party will exert greater control at given times.

For example, when a potential client asks you to present them with a solution to an existing problem, you control the situation through your selection of content, presenters and media which represents your organization and perspective in the best possible light.

Following the presentation, the control shifts to the client who, having several options from which to choose, can negotiate to their advantage.

 2) Trust

At some point in all relationships each party will open up to the other party, creating a level of vulnerability. Trust allows both parties to be confident in engaging in disclosures that help the relationship grow.

When pitching your presentation to a potential client whom you deem credible and desirable, you likely offer unique ideas and creative options. The client trusts that you will come through on the claims you are making and have the resources to do so.

Likewise, you trust that your ideas will remain proprietary and that the client will not use them to their benefit if they decide to go with another firm.

 3) Satisfaction

When both parties are happy because the positive expectations about the relationship are reinforced and outweigh the costs of the relationship, satisfaction occurs.

As the relationship with your new client progresses, satisfaction increases for the client as you continue to honor the conditions of your agreement by listening and responding to their needs and honor your commitments.

Your satisfaction increases when the client provides useful information from which to develop a plan; and also from the positive feedback received on the new project in your portfolio, as well as the potential for continued work or referrals.

4) Commitment

Relationships take effort, and commitment is indicated by a desire from both parties to continue with the relationship because they feel it is worth their energy to maintain and develop.

Even the best relationship experience challenges, but when a strong foundation based on trust and satisfaction is in place, it remains worthwhile to pursue. Communicating openly about concerns and disagreements help keep both the task and relational aspects in focus in order to achieve common goals.

 The remaining two components characterize the relationship more holistically.

5) Exchange Relationship

When one party in the relationship does something for the other party as reciprocation, either for a past or future service, it is considered an exchange relationship.

6) Communal Relationship

When both parties provide benefits to each other out of concern rather than payback, seeking no additional recompense, the relationship is communal.

For example, if your client moved up an important deadline to accommodate an unplanned visit from the CEO you might accelerate the schedule to meet the new deadline. As recognition for your effort you might request additional payment, or consideration for future projects (exchange relationship).

Alternately, you might make the necessary adjustments to meet the deadline simply because your client needs the assist (communal relationship).

Investments in Developing Relationships

While seeking compensation for services rendered is certainly reasonable, there may be occasions when building the relationship offers far greater benefits than would adherence to policy. As such, developing communal relationships should be an inherent organizational goal, particularly in key relationships, internal or external, that you would like to develop.

Beyond enhancing the relationship, individuals also experience positive outcomes such as greater self-esteem and satisfaction with life, further adding to benefits of engaging in such practices. Future posts will discuss each of these characteristics in more detail

Have you given thought recently whether your organization is (genuinely) people first or profit first? What practices do you employ that contribute to building communal relationships? Are these practices the norm within your culture, or “special circumstances?”

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Andrea Pampaloni

Andrea M. Pampaloni, Ph.D is Professor of Organizational Communication at LaSalle
Her research focuses on Relationship-Building and Presentation of Image
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Bullet Proof Leadership: Leading with the Strength of Deliberative

Imagine this: You have great ideas, a lot of self-motivation, and you are ready to get started! Well, almost… Details are not your forte.

Not only that, you have no interest in them, much less troubleshooting your project.

Learning Vigilance

Instead, you go to your good friend and co-worker, Faye.

  • No matter the project, Faye has an innate ability to scour the details and identify, assess, and reduce risks.
  • She is able to slow you down, identify the potential minefields and bring them to your attention.
  • Her judgment and counsel are invaluable because she is inevitably able to see things you did not.
  • She has naturally good judgment, and after she is done with your project plan, it’s essentially bullet proof.

This because Faye is leveraging her Deliberative strength.

Things Are Not Always As They Seem

People strong in Deliberative know not to take everything at face value. Just because something appears to be air tight does not mean it is. You know that life is unpredictable, and beneath the surface you can sense the many risks.

For this reason, you approach life and your decisions with reserve.

You know that life is not a popularity contest, and that the right decisions are not always the most popular. Others can count on you to place your feet deliberately, and tread with care.

Leveraging Your Vigilance

As a Deliberative leader, your team can count on you to lead them in the right direction and to make well thought-out decisions for the team. You provide security and certainty, which is invaluable as a leader. Because you are not interested in popularity, you don’t play into office politics and can be relied upon to make unbiased decisions about your people and your team.

Your team will seek out your sound judgment.

As a leader, you also need to be aware that though you make great decisions, time plays a factor in the real world as well. Deadlines need to be met in order for things to get done. You know that all things carry inherent risks; it’s important for you to identify the most important ones and address those.

 

Balancing Strengths

It’s not efficient to deliberate over every single factor. Be prepared to leverage people with strong Command, Activator, and/or Self-Assurance Strengths. They will help you make strong, efficient decisions and implement them. It’s also important to be aware of your team’s perceptions.

No, being popular isn’t more important than making good decisions, but your Deliberative can be misconstrued as an inability to act or tentativeness when addressing challenges or change.

As a leader, that can be detrimental to your cause.

To avoid this, make sure you explain your decision-making process, and that you find the risks in order to mitigate and reduce them.

Leading The Vigilant

If you are leading someone strong in Deliberative, they can be a great asset for you, especially if you are strong in Activator, Achiever, or Futuristic. You will be inclined to move quickly and may not have thought of every possible outcome or pitfall.

Though it may pain you to take a step back and slow down, you will have more successful endeavors that not.

Your partnership will also benefit them because you will be able to push them forward, as they have a tendency to sit still for long periods of time.

If you are a Deliberative person, what’s your process for decision-making? Do others come to you to help them make decisions? How to you avoid taking too long while still being thorough? If you lead someone with Deliberative, do you leverage them in team decision-making processes? I would love to hear your thoughts!

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Alexsys "Lexy" Thompson HCS, SWP

Alexsys “Lexy” Thompson is Managing Partner at Fokal Fusion
She helps building Strong Leaders through Strong People Strategy
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Is the Entitlement Generation Really Entitled?

Funny Get Well Ecard: You have what we call an Irrational Sense of Entitlement. It won't kill you, but it will cause you to believe that you deserve things for doing nothing.

They are spoiled, uncooperative, impatient, lazy, and worse. These are just a few of the words used to describe some who have been deemed the “entitlement generation.” They are often called Millennials, or Gen Y, or even Generation C.

Sure, with stories like the 18-year old woman who is suing her parents for financial support flying around the web, is anyone really surprised?

Getting a Grip

I must admit, even as a latter Gen Y myself, this extreme entitlement mentality phenomenon somewhat shocks me. I would never come to conclude that I would sue my parents to support my “independent lifestyle.” Rather, I would hear my mother’s voice in my head saying what she used to say to me as a kid when I’d complain and moan:

“…Fine you want to leave… you’re so miserable… then just remember this – You leave this house the way you came into it – with nothing!”

Needless to say, I never left abruptly. And I certainly didn’t sue them for college tuition either!

Thanks, Mom!

Getting Focused

But about the young woman suing her parents, I had a very different upbringing. And I cannot take her example and project that entitled behavior on an entire generation. My parents taught me to not pass judgment based on one person’s behavior and then generalize that aberration across the entire population.

In fact, the entitlement generation (let’s just call them Millennials) do have a lot to bring to the table.

They bring new ways of doing things. They bring vitality, innovation, and next-gen savvy. With a record 47% of the active adult working population being labeled as a Millennial this year, there may be a lot of work left to be done to integrate them into the business world.

But for your business to grow and succeed, you should be harnessing what they have to offer and not scoffing at them.

Getting to the Next Level

Some hot button issues my clients usually mention relate to work hours, social mediatechnology, and an overall general attitude and communication style.

Though I am not one to recommend catering to any one particular demographics’ demands without requesting something in return, this generation has the potential to bring a business to the next level.

So rather than dig your feet into the ground – why not alter how you do business a bit to make it work for everyone – a win/win?

Getting Started

Here are a few ideas to help you get started:              

Coaching and Communication

Millennials are not afraid to speak up or call the boss by his first name. They believe that communication is imperative in all directions, up, down, and lateral. To engage this generation create an environment where they are encouraged and rewarded for speaking up about ideas and concerns, regardless of level in the organization.

Don’t view this as disrespect; harness this style of communication, which often leads to innovation. Millennials prefer coaches not bosses.

  • To engage Millennials, add a structured coaching or mentoring program to your organization – cross generational if possible. Build in frequent developmental check-ins and create a trusted relationship and space for discussion. Helping to guide open communication, career progression, and build trust leads to increased engagement, innovation and high performance.

Connectedness

Millennials need to feel connected to the organization to stay engaged. They expect a seat at the table, want questions answered directly, often challenge the status quo, they have a need to understand the big picture – this doesn’t mean they expect to be CEO tomorrow. Don’t just give access and advice to your corporate strategy, mission, and vision to senior leaders.

Allow access to and input from your Millennial non-executive employees as well. They tend to feel more connected and engaged when they know their own values and beliefs and work align to those of the organization.

  • To engage Millennials, provide the opportunity to give and receive feedback, not just regarding their own careers but on the overall direction and vision of the organization, this is important to Millennials and helps them feel heard, respected, connected and stay engaged.

Tap Into Technology

Millennials are used to technology, some were even born with it at their fingertips.  They aren’t scared of new technologies and adapt fast to new innovations. Many are creating their own (do you have an ap for that?) Don’t shy away from new technologies that enable telecommuting or virtual work environments, that facilitate learning and training on the go, or that help contribute to work life balance.

Utilize video teleconferencing, Webinars, and test out whatever is new and innovative. Technology can be used to encourage group and project based work. Use technology – and social media - to build in collaboration, create informal team building exercises, and as a communication tool for positive public relations for your organization.

  • To engage Millennials, use social media and new technology as a communication and feedback tool and for telecommuting and enhancing collaboration.  Creating public forums for employees to pose insights, questions and concerns, and for the organization to have a place to respond real time to address issues, and share information. This helps everyone feel heard and can increase engagement and productivity.

Getting Results

As you can see - there are things you can provide to harness Millennial innovation that don’t necessarily cost large sums of money nor do they alter your organization’s values and strategy.

This generation, when given the opportunity,  provides businesses with ideas and innovations that will give you the edge when it comes to winning over customers.

(Just advise your General Counsel not to cancel the tuition reimbursement program!)

So how do you feel about the “entitlement generation?” Do you see these types of people in your organization? If so, how do you interact, deal with, and support their disposition?  I would love to hear your thoughts!

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——————
Scott Span

Scott Span, MSOD is President of Tolero Solutions OD & Change Management Firm
He helps clients be responsive, focused, and effective to facilitate sustainable growth
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