3 Ways to Improve Leadership Development for Millennials

In five years, nearly half of the global workforce will be comprised of Millennials, or those now in their 20s and early 30s.

Millennials are generally described at team players and high achievers, though they’re often perceived as being more technologically savvy than socially skilled.

A study by the Association for Talent Development found many of those born between 1980 and 2000 lacked “soft skills,” such as diplomacy and communication. Due to their age, they have less experience leading others and tend to use different styles of leadership than other members of their team, which can cause tension at times.

Millennials also tend to change jobs more frequently, as they are constantly looking for opportunities to progress in their career. In a global PricewaterhouseCooper survey on Millennials shaping the workplace, 54 percent said they expected to have between two and five employers over the course of their career. Having an employer who invests in them and gives them the opportunity to develop new skills can make them more likely to stay. In fact, when asked what makes an employer attractive, more than half cited opportunities for career progression, and more than a third mentioned opportunities for training and development.

All these factors make leadership development for Millennials essential. Unfortunately, many companies don’t seem to view it as a priority.

Although a majority of respondents to these studies agree Millennials need specialized training and development to succeed, most companies don’t currently offer leadership development programs specifically for them.

Here are three tips for training Millennials to become your company’s next leaders.

1) Keep Content Short and Relevant

Millennials have been taught to be digitally resourceful. Technology has trained this generation to skip the boring and irrelevant.

That said, they are far from complacent. They are hungry to learn new skills that can help them advance their careers.

Keeping content to the point allocates more time for learning job-specific material that impacts them directly.

Short how-to videos or task-relevant, scenario-based games that can be accessed during down time in work environments have also proven to be successful.

2) Offer Frequent Feedback

One of the strongest traits distinguishing Millennials, according to the PricewaterhouseCoopers survey, is the desire for regular feedback and praise for a job well done. They don’t just want compliments-they want detailed input on what they’re doing well and where they can improve.

Companies that are most effective at managing Millennials will be those that set clear expectations and provide regular, structured feedback that is incorporated into training and development programs.

Implementing a mentoring program for Millennials is one way to ensure you’re providing ample opportunities for personalized feedback and coaching.

Using 360-degree assessments that include responses from a variety of people in the employee’s sphere of influence, including colleagues and direct reports, is one way to ensure you’re providing them with enough high-quality feedback.

3) Make Training A Game

Millennials grew up playing games.

Most respond well to training that is stimulating and visual.

Self-directed, online learning programs can shorten the learning curve and better prepare Millennials for leadership positions.

Allow trainees to earn online tokens or badges they can put on their social media profile as they make progress. In some cases, you might consider offering real prizes like gift cards, tablets or e-readers to acknowledge exceptional performance.

Keep the focus on competition, since Millennials see it as a fun road to personal development.

By investing in Millennials, your company is directly investing in its future. Training Millennials to become leaders keeps them more engaged and productive, which translates into better retention and higher profits. It also ensures you’ll have a pipeline of strong leaders who are ready to take the reins when the time comes.

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