As originally posted on NDInsights September 2014
When we train on the new workforce generation one of the most common themes that emerges is how can a Millennial worker become more value-added in a short amount of time. In addition to this theme usually the next sub-theme is ‘…make it practical, real life examples, attainable differences.’ With those two thoughts in mind we’ve put together a list of what we have heard, seen, and believe are ways that a new Millennial worker can become indispensable:
1. Have a “Show Up, On Time, Ready To Go” Philosophy. Number one on the list and quite possibly the most important (because all the others need to have this underlying mindset) is the ‘show up’ mantra. This means being on time, being present; attuned, prepared and ready to go in mind, body, and attitude.
2. Review a meeting agenda ahead of time and find places to add insightful value. Write out questions related to the topic. For example, “How would we respond to the problem if we expanded/reduced our approach?” “How might the customer see this situation from his/her perspective?” “How does this information/update affect our timeline or goal?”
3. Listen for ideas coming out of discussions. Ask, “Is this idea something we should move forward as an action item?” Many wonderful suggestions and actions go unfulfilled because no one moved them forward or wrote them down. If no one is scribing action items, offer to do so.
4. Offer to write down discussion ideas on a flipchart. There is true power in the visual art of writing things down for a group to see especially in the brainstorming process. Show your ability to lead a discussion by leading the capture of ideas.
5. When problems emerge look for the root cause and ask the 5 Whys: Learn how to pause and contemplate root causes to issues and errors and not jump at the surface level symptom. As a Millennial myself, I find that I have to be more patient – my instinct is to go fast and furious, but I have found that digging a little bit deeper shows maturity and strategic thought. Ask, “Would it help to ask why 5 times to see if we can identify the root cause here?” Likewise, if a group moves on past the problem without any clear resolution, you can revisit it by asking, “Is everyone clear on the approach we’re going to use to solve the problem, because I think I missed it?”
6. In decision making identify the criteria to make the decision. So often groups can become confused about what decision to go with or that there is only one criteria to be used (time, money, ease of implementation, etc.) which is usually not the case. Help them use an array of criteria to build a better decision. You will stand out for your ability to use various perspectives and criteria to come to a sound and good decision.
7. Play Devil’s Advocate or the challenger. This helps to expand the diversity of thought especially when you might feel groupthink is occurring. “As the Devil’s Advocate let me ask: What could go wrong here, or what does the downside of this look like?”
8. Link and connect ideas together. This helps people show your ability to advance the thinking and give credit where credit is due. “I think Brad’s and John’s ideas are both terrific and, if put together, could be the approach we’re looking for.”
9. Invite the expert to share his/her opinion. Show your ability to share your value by letting others share theirs. “Clarista, you have lots of experience with this project. I’d like to hear your thoughts on how we should proceed.” Both #8 and #9 are really about showing your ability to share the stage which is really about humble leadership. Giving others props is a rare and sought after leadership quality.
10. Advance your thinking. Always be asking yourself, “How am I advancing my thinking.” How am I advancing my thoughts, my skills, my talents, connecting ideas, producing something new? This is also a great philosophy to have when working with a group or team. “How do we advance the thinking here?” “What are we doing to move the ball forward?”
Maybe some of these struck a chord with you – either as a manager of the younger generation or as a Millennial yourself. Please share with people you think are rising Millennial stars in your organization and could use some helpful tips.
Many of these aren’t rocket science and apply to not just the Millennial generation but all generations. It can also be helpful to have a list written out and to set goals around 3 or 4 of them. Unfortunately, many times these universal ways to add value are never implemented or practiced merely because people never bother to actually show up, on time, ready to go. Because of this faulty human condition, you (Millennials) can make a huge impression and impact by accomplishing a couple of these daily.