I love a fresh start. When we turn the calendar into January, we can look back and learn from the past while focusing on a clean slate ahead. My wife and I have been setting annual goals from the very first New Year we met – Y2K. We believe in the importance of writing down our goals and making them not only meaningful but also measurable.
Throughout my career, I’ve understood that success involves three key ingredients. (And you can define success however you want. I define it as laying out a goal and accomplishing it.) First, you need to know where you are. Secondly, you need to know where you are going. Finally, you need to know how you are going to get there.
Seems obvious, right? But it’s not—at least not for everyone. Here is where the younger generation has an advantage over the rest of us. They are excellent at figuring out who they are. That’s because they’ve been run through every personality test from Myers Briggs to Strength Finders and met with career advisers and counselors who’ve told them exactly what areas they should focus on. They have been trained to understand themselves.
This generation is also very good at figuring out where they want to go—destination. In my decade of coaching college students, I asked hundreds of young people this key question: What is your dream job? Their replies painted some pretty cool pictures of where they saw themselves in 20 years.
And therein lies the problem. They don’t know how to get there.
The most important piece millennials need help with is discovering the roadmap for getting from here to there. Many of us do.
I believe I have made more connections and built more trust and loyalty with the younger generation by truly taking an interest in listening to them talk about their dreams, but just as importantly, helping them create the roadmap to realize those dreams. I don’t have all the answers, but I look for opportunities to play a role in their success as and help them chart a course from Point A to Point B as they set out on their career journey.
Are you willing to do that?
Business leaders who will take an interest in their young professionals’ goals and help them reach those goals are far more likely to thrive long-term beyond the current generational shift.
One of the good things that has come from the “helicopter parenting” approach, which many millennials grew up with, is that they actually want to be coached. They’ve always had a resource to turn to (their parents) when they needed help making a decision. Yet now they are now walking into the workplace where typically those decision-making helpers do not exist. In my perspective, that gap creates an opportunity to add value.
I know many of you reading this will say, “Nobody took the time to help me get to where I got. I had to figure that out on my own. Why should I take them time to help them?” I hear that a lot from today’s business leaders. And some of you may be asking, “Where am I supposed to work coaching into my schedule?”
I guess that is the question.
Do you value getting things done or developing and retaining your talent? A good leader values both. I believe this is a key to truly engaging the younger workforce—building a relationship. Yes, it takes time and effort to listen and to engage, but it doesn’t only benefit the millennial. You, too, can grow from these relationships. I know I sure have.