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THE Leadership Japan Series by Dale Carnegie Training Tokyo Japan

Jun 24, 2015

How To Retain Your Millennials (Part 2)


In Part One, we looked at what were the drivers for retaining and engaging Millennials, based on The Dale Carnegie MSWOARS research.  Personal life issues we have already covered, so now let’s look at the issues around the work environment and organizational leadership. 


Being recognized by their immediate supervisor was important to Millennials.  This sounds simple, but in the real world how many supervisors give meaningful positive feedback to their staff? Being told “good job” is basically useless, unless what we did is actually specified.  In Japan, the older generation of leaders do not have a habit of handing out anything other than “tough love”.  Are your middle managers recognizing the work of your Millennials – if not it might be a good time to do some more leadership training in this area.


Millennials are also looking for support and help in their work.  The amount of free time bosses have is limited and though honoured in principle, in practice not a lot of active coaching takes place.  Co-workers are also busy people too, so they are limited in how much time they can invest in teaching Millennials anything. 


Looking for leverage opportunities, are bosses coaching the co-workers on why it is important to help the Millennials, and are these activities being noted when it comes to performance review time?  If they are not, then everyone moves along briskly, because there is a lot to do, and Millennials can be left to their own devices to work it out for themselves.  This is not going to increase their engagement and they may just decide to leave for greener pastures.


Millennials like to be trusted that they can do their job and to be given greater responsibility.  They know this is how they grow in their careers.  Bosses who can’t delegate are blockers of Millennial progress.  The “it will be quicker if I do it myself” mantra ensures not much gets delegated.  The learning opportunity is denied and the bosses work burden is constantly at bursting point.  This means no coaching time being invested as well, so it becomes a vicious circle of neglect.


The Millennial view of the organisation’s leadership can be a critical factor in keeping them.  Having confidence in the leadership ability of one’s immediate supervisor is ranked high in importance in the survey.  This can be a bit of a problem though, because often people are promoted into positions of leadership, but are not given any training for the new role.  Being a good practioner and being a good leader of others is not the same thing. The elements that made you great may be missing in the team under your care.  The ability to organize yourself is different to organising a team and areas like communication become a challenge for a lot of new leaders.  The upshot may be that the Millennials quickly realize their boss is a hopeless leader, absent coach, poor communicator and totally stressed out by the responsibility, because they can’t delegate.


Millennials like to have input into decisions that impact their work, but if the boss is a “my way or the highway” type then there is not a lot of scope for input.  The classic top down approach is not one to build the Millennial’s sense of worth by valuing their opinion.


Millennials expect their boss to communicate openly and honestly.  One of the issues with middle management is they are like sponges in absorbing information that drifts down from on high, but they are parsimonious in passing it down any further.  The consequence is that they know what is going on, but few others in their team have a clue and are unpleasantly surprised by the turn of events in the company.  When this happens, the trust is quickly broken.


Millennials demand good leaders. So like the canary in the mine, these young people may be giving us a good warning of hidden leadership failings in our midst.  If we don’t take note and take the required action, they may not wait around for us to fix it.  This will be costly and painful in the long term.



Action Steps


Train new middle managers well


See delegation as a development tool


The newest person often sees things that the old hands no longer see, so make sure to include their ideas


Middle managers must be the glue connecting senior leaders with the masses and vice versa