Do you remember way back when people first started bringing their own devices into the workplace and how IT departments reacted? Or maybe you were the director of IT and had that experience first-hand. My husband was in charge of IT for his company at the time, and I was one of those on-the-go consultants who just wanted “easy technology”. We had a lot of discussions about this topic back then!
What I recall most was the clash between fear and possibility.
IT leaders were frustrated and feeling backed into a corner. How can you possibly expect me to protect your environments and data if you’re gonna just free-for-all by bringing in unprotected devices and demanding open access from anywhere? C’mon, be smart about this!
Employees were likewise frustrated and feeling hog-tied. How can you expect me to be agile, responsive, and innovative when you’re stifling my creativity and mobility with your way too complex and restrictive rules and processes? C’mon, get with the future!
I feel like leading millennials in the workplace is a little déjà vu here; another large scale clash between possibility and fear.
Just like with the rise of BYOD, millennials are seeking more connectivity and collaboration. And just like back then, too many leaders are digging in and protecting what they “know to be true about effective organizations”, and justifying that by painting an entire generation as entitled or lazy.
Are they entitled and lazy? Maybe, maybe not. That’s not really the point.
The point is that there is a leadership gap. As baby boomers retire, millennials are the largest percentage of the available workforce to replace them. Are we as leaders preparing them for stepping into leadership roles at a much younger age than previous generations, or are we instead complaining about their perceived shortcomings and wishing for better material to work with?
The truth is that they are interested in what’s possible for the future. They want to be able to share their ideas, and they actually do want mentorship from the older generation, but not condescension.
If you as a leader have a belief that millennials are just entitled and lazy, you absolutely cannot mentor them nor lead them. You are more concerned with changing them than developing them.
And you could be hurting your own and your company’s future.
Breakthrough innovation, and great cultures that foster that, are not born from absolute consensus nor unchallenged processes. Leaders today are being challenged. Challenged to grow, to become more self-aware, to set aside judging and instead get curious so that we can mentor and shape this younger generation.
Think about those IT directors or companies who dug their heels in and strong-armed the attempt to bring in outside devices and open networks. Eventually there came a point when they had to embrace it and learn to make it work for them, or go away. And by delaying from a place of stubbornness or uncertainty, they likely hurt productivity, sales and innovation.
The same will happen to leaders who refuse to reach out and truly listen, understand and incorporate what is needed as the workforce and workplaces continue to evolve. You cannot stop nor delay this evolution. But you can decide how you will meet it.
With over 20 years of experience as a strategic consultant for global Leadership and Development initiatives with some of the world’s top Fortune 500 companies, Trish Cody has coached and consulted with senior level teams in planning, designing, launching, and measuring the return for major initiatives.
As a Certified Professional Coach and Energy Leadership Master Practitioner, Trish works with entrepreneurs, senior leaders and their teams to uncover their real desires for their organization, and then to align those desires with their values to co-create a strategy for execution and accountability. The leaders Trish partners with are truly working their own best plan for success in achieving their desired “new state” and weathering the changes that success brings.
To learn more about how Trish can help you and your team with one-on-one coaching, team coaching or speaking at your event, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.