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5 Questions Managers Should Ask Millennials to Connect

Most Managers are Boomers and Generation X’ers—and most of them don’t understand millennials because they grew up in a world vastly different from them. Because the interests, worldviews and perspectives between generations vary significantly, finding common ground is the dang key to connecting a united, powerful workforce.

Forbes just released an article about how Boomers can network with Millennials and Gen X’ers. We’ve taken their top 5 questions on how to connect and provide our real deal insight into why these questions are effective in bridging the generational gap in the workplace.

  1. How do you most like to spend your time?

Everyone wants a boss who cares. This question helps you immediately open up the possibility for connecting on mutual interest. It also takes the pressure off work and focuses on personal interests and people’s favorite topic: themselves. This question shifts the focus from you to them (in our book we call this WIFThem,), which demonstrates that you have really leaned in to respect them as a grown (&^%) adult and see things from their perspective.

  1. What’s the most important lesson you learned at work?

Again, caring…but more. It helps you coach on how they view their work and what strikes them as important. This question also opens up the opportunity for sharing lessons you’ve learned. What do millennials want more than anything in the workplace? Learning and growing opportunities: we call it capability! Gallup will tell you it equals engagement more than any one thing!

  1. What do you wish you knew at the start of your career?

As Julius Caesar said, “Experience is the teacher of all things.” Millennials, like all of us, are never fully prepared when embarking on an endeavor. Clearly, it’s impossible to know everything when starting out. By opening up the way for millennials to share what they’ve learned, you tell them “I care and I respect you.” It also provides connection currency and then you can share what you’ve learned, which will help them in their careers. You better share funny stories and lessons—that type of vulnerability wins.

  1. How do you think work could be restructured to make it more productive and enjoyable?

This question highlights that you are open and want their input because together you can create a great workplace. It makes you more approachable as a manger or as an experienced worker, a better coach and a leader. After all, the ability to seek feedback and integrate it into your business is what real leadership is about.

 

  1. How do you think you can be most helpful to teammates?

Millennials wan to learn about themselves and how to be effective from day one. Identifying the strengths of each millennial worker, and allowing them to understand their strengths, will help you put them in the best possible position for themselves and your company. For example, a millennial working in the sales department is unhappy and feels she is of minimal value to her team. However, she is savvy and skilled in Adobe and Photoshop. She will be more of an asset to a company’s design or branding department than the sales department. This question helps you effectively place them in an optimal position for the company’s gain and their fit. It helps them provide real value, something they are very concerned about.

So get on it now: Go ask some friggin questions that show you care, respect them and are a coach and mentor those are the connection currency. That will pay off in attraction, retention and engagement.

Chasing Relevance by Dan Negroni

Interested in learning more about bridging the gap between millennials and managers? Here’s your chance! Grab your copy of Chasing Relevance: 6 Steps to Understand, Engage and Maximize Next Generation Leaders in the Workplace!

4 Important Questions You Should Be Asking & the 4 Actions They Will Make You Take to Win the Millennial Race!

“The art and science of asking questions is the source of all knowledge.”

– Thomas Berger

 

The only way to get powerful answers is by asking powerful questions. Deloitte released a brilliant and insightful report about 10 questions you should be asking. We’ve taken 4 of these 10 key questions and shifted the focus on how they relate to your millennial workforce.

1.) What risks are my biases creating?

Every action we take is in accordance with our belief system. The beliefs we hold are much more powerful than we realize. They can cage us in or empower us; they can hold us back or push us forward. If you are biased by the myths that millennials are entitled, lazy, and selfish, could that be affecting your business? Considering that millennials are 60% of the world’s population (and that number is growing fast), this could adversely affect your operations, your relationship with millennial employees and your strategy moving forward.

The Deloitte report reveals, “during periods of great change, at the very moment rationality is needed most, the impulse to act without reason kicks in.” To act impulsively and think from a victim mindset is the easy thing to do. “My millennials don’t work hard. They don’t care at all.” But what if you take a different approach, taking responsibility for your workforce and finding ways to empower and engage them? Seek advice from people in your organization who you can trust, especially millennials themselves. Ask people outside your organization what they think. This will help remove any biases that may be holding your business back from excelling.

ACTION: Ask the Millennial and Manager so you can bridge the gap!

2.) Am I acting decisively when I see change around the corner?

The world is changing, and fast. Technology is altering the way we do business and will continue to do so over the next decade. If you don’t grab innovation by the horns and adapt to current and future trends, you will be left by the wayside. It’s evident that company culture, business ethics, virtual opportunity, and generational gaps are among us. But, as stated elegantly in the Deloitte report, “The problem is not just seeing around the corner. It’s also deciding when to take arms, and then taking them confidently.”

Boom. It’s one thing to notice a problem (or opportunity, depending on how you see it.) It’s another thing to take initiative and act. Three out of four companies do not have a plan in place to adjust to the millennial shift in both the workforce and economy. Great leaders make changes before the changes overcome them. Make sure your organization is equipped and prepared for the rise of millennials.

ACTION: Get a friggin plan together now, appoint a committee, DO SOMETHING TODAY!

3.) What’s your reputation worth, and who owns it?

Reputation is everything. It’s worth more than just dollars, and is measured in a variety of currencies like attention, trust and loyalty. Reputation defines the heart of your business. It reveals what you represent and how you fulfill the promises and expectations of your customers and employees.

We agree with the Deloitte report, which encourages a brand reputation program to help enhance, progress and preserve your reputation and business. “That program should engage employees as corporate ambassadors, constantly look for gaps in what is promised vs. what is delivered, and invest in systems to monitor and track external feedback across stakeholders.” What are you promising your millennial employees? A Deloitte Millennial survey revealed that 44% of millennials rejected a job offer because the company values didn’t match their own.[1] Is your company delivering on its moral values? Make sure you are transparent about who you are and what you stand for.

ACTION: Develop your brand story clearly, create it, be it, live it, live it with relevance. Don’t look back. Be your brand and millennials will make your brand relevant!

4.) Who digs in and challenges the assumptions in my strategy?

Having a devil’s advocate is essential for challenging assumptions, eliminating biases, surfacing blind spots, offering new perspectives and building a resilient strategy. As the old adage says, “If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you.” Assumptions can be wrong. By openly discussing strategy and encouraging a devil’s advocate to challenge strategy, you can remove possible flaws and weaknesses as well as adopt new ideas to strengthen your game plan.

The great part about having a diverse workforce is that every person has a unique set of experiences. Therefore, each individual may see a problem or opportunity that only they can see due to his or her perspective. As Alan Alda said, “Begin challenging your own assumptions. Your assumptions are your windows on the world. Scrub them off every once in awhile, or the light won’t come in.”

ACTION: Push yourself now. Engage a millennial to push you and let them. You will be better, stronger and wiser, which will grow your business.

DO SOMETHING NOW: GO GROW YOURSELF!

Chasing Relevance by Dan Negroni

Interested in learning more about bridging the gap between millennials and managers? Here’s your chance! Grab your copy of  Chasing Relevance: 6 Steps to Understand, Engage and Maximize Next Generation Leaders in the Workplace.

 

[1] Yakowicz, Will. “Half of Millennials Would Reject a Work Assignment That Clashed With Their Ethics.” Inc.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 June 2016.