Just about everyone loves superheroes. They swoop in to help the citizens, always seem to know what to do and when to do it, and for that they are celebrated and applauded. Superheroes just continue to show up and outdo themselves each time, and everybody wants to be a superhero because they make things happen. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have a legion of superhero millennial employees on your team to get the work done? Well, you can, and here’s how.
- Set clear expectations.All superheroes know they need to reach out to people in distress and fix the wrongs, but your millennial employees can only be superheroes if they know what you want. With a new year having started, this is the perfect time to review expectations. Be very clear about what you require, the results you want, and the behaviors that are necessary to make the year a successful one. Have a discussion with each millennial employee and let them tell you in their own words what they understand the expectations to be so everyone leaves on the same page and nothing is left to vague misinterpretation. When expectations change, communicate that immediately to avoid confusion, mistrust and frustration.
- Know which superhero to use and when. Just like superheroes, each millennial employee can only shine when they are in the right role at the right time. Ensure that you are aware of your millennial employee’s best attributes and assign them to roles that will showcase their strengths, especially when it may require some growth to achieve their best.
- Delegate and deploy. Once you have the right people in the right roles, delegate and deploy. The most effective leaders know how to allow their people to shine after they have been instructed. Be available to offer assistance when necessary but trust them enough to know they will do an exceptional job and bring better solutions to the table than you can imagine. When problems arise, trouble shoot, encourage and re-deploy.
- Show your appreciation immediately.When a hero saves the day, they never have to wait 6‑12 months to be appreciated. The response to their deed is swift and positive and it works, so why do some leaders wait until evaluation time to commend a job well done, which can be weeks or even months away? Give rewards quickly and do so publicly as it boosts morale and serves as a benchmark to be achieved.
- Take care of the villains.When villains come to town, the superheroes work diligently to get rid of them and they are usually successful. Your workplace has villains who obstruct the progress of your projects and growth of your millennial employees in so many small ways, yet in some instances they are given license to continue because no one says anything. This is where true leaders step in to ensure that the people who are not productive and/or disruptive are addressed. The action, too, has to be swift so the standards are maintained and the issue is not left to fester.
The majority of millennial employees come to work because they enjoy the work, the people and/or the purpose behind the work. They want to feel valued, challenged and respected, and the leader who knows how to nurture and develop these dedicated individuals will feel like he/she has a legion of superheroes in their arsenal on a daily basis. Take a moment and think about it: Don’t all employees want these exact things?
Karen Hinds is a leadership and diversity and inclusion expert. She used her experience in building talent pipelines for financial services companies to launch her company over 20 years ago. Workplace Success Group is a strategic, talent development firm that works with organizations to cultivate and retain their next generation of leaders.