Today, I spoke to Lisa Orrell, who is The Generation Relations Expert and author of “Millennials Into Leadership.” In this interview, Lisa explains some Gen-Y stereotypes, what it takes to be a millennial leader, what millennials complain about in the workplace, and how she’s built her own personal brand.
Name at least 3 Millennial stereotypes and how they can impact the workplace for better or worse?
- The first stereotype I hear a lot is that Millennials aren’t loyal to employers. I don’t agree with this. Millennials are very loyal by nature; they simply have less tolerance than generations before them. If they are not being treated well by their managers or employers, or don’t feel challenged and supported, they’ll leave. Whereas older generations were raised to “put up with” these things and stay at a job no matter what, Millennials won’t. Millennials are really making front-line managers step up their game in terms of being effective leaders, and I think that’s a good thing.
- Another stereotype I hear from audience members during presentations is that Millennials need a lot of handholding. This is somewhat true, but it’s not a bad thing. It’s simply something that older managers aren’t used to. Millennials are basically forcing older managers and leaders to improve their communications styles, and their communication frequency, and I don’t see that as a bad thing.
- The third thing I hear often is that Millennials require a lot of praise. Again, this is not a bad thing. The number one reason employees of any generation leave a job is due to not feeling valued. So Millennials are causing companies and managers to improve their employee rewards and recognition programs, and it’s improving the retention of all employees.
The bottom line is that Millennials really don’t want anything hugely different than older generations at work; they’re just being more vocal about it. And it’s shaking things up for many companies…, which I think is positive.
What makes a Millennial leader?
Wow. Well, this is a big question and something that my new book is all about, “Millennials Into Leadership”. The whole book was written for Millennial employees about how to be effective, respected young leaders, so clearly I could go on and on about this question. But for the purposes of this interview I’ll keep my answer short.
A couple of things Millennials need to be aware of as they enter management roles are: Treat everyone with respect and really get to know your employees and co-workers. You cannot build rapport and lead effectively if you don’t know whom you’re working with.
Another key point is to realize that an effective leader focuses on bringing out the best in their employees, and doesn’t make the relationship all about them. If you are not constantly looking at ways to empower each employee individually, and as a team, and you find yourself always de-powering them, you are blowing it. Being an effective leader is about creating employee commitment, not creating employee compliance. There is a very big difference between those two approaches, and I discuss them a lot in my book and in my leadership seminars.
One last thing (out of a million) is an effective Millennial leader takes the time to develop their personal leadership brand. I have a whole chapter on this in my book, and it’s a topic many Millennials in my seminars get excited about. The sooner you can determine “who” you are, and how you want to be known in the workforce, the better off you’ll be. I know people in their 50’s who have never even thought about this, so if I can get people in their 20’s thinking about it, I’ll be ecstatic. Knowing who you are and what you stand for provides a road map for everything you say and do at work…and that can also keep your moral compass on track, too.
What do Millennials complain about in the workplace most?
The Millennials I coach, or conduct seminars for, tend to vent about not feeling respected at work. They get frustrated that the older generations, co-workers or their managers, don’t take their ideas seriously and feel these older employees are “stuck in their ways”. I let them know that if they keep working hard, that over time that will change. It’s very naïve to think you’ll attract followers quickly. It takes time for people to build trust in your abilities and ideas, but it will happen.
They also complain about lack of guidance and support. This is why I educate employers on the importance of developing mentorship and training programs for their younger employees. Not only will those strategies build loyalty in their Millennial employees but they will also increase retention. Luckily, companies who hire me take this advice seriously and typically notice a benefit quickly by implementing good programs for their Millennial talent.
Your first book, “Millennials Incorporated”, focused on how to recruit and manage Millennials, but your new book was written for the Millennials. Why?
I saw that many employers were struggling with understanding this new generation entering their worlds, so I felt a book filled with tips and strategies would be helpful. That first book led to many companies hiring me for seminars and consultation, so it clearly struck a cord with many companies, executives, and front line managers. The book is still selling well and companies still hire me to come in and discuss Millennials and how to improve generation relations. Plus, I just got booked to conduct a seminar at a large HR conference in Brazil, so the focus of my first book certainly hasn’t become passé yet.
But I saw Millennials starting to expand out of their entry-level positions and enter management roles, so I decided to write a book to help them enter leadership roles effectively. I have many Millennials come to me entering leadership roles that are between 24-27 years old. They often struggle with this new responsibility because “leadership” is not typically taught in college, and they lack workforce experience, but are expected to lead their teams effectively. Many companies move them up the ranks but don’t train them for management and leadership. It boggles my mind.
So my new book is a guide to help younger employees get a good grip on what leadership means and how to be a good one. And I also explain things like the difference between a leadership and management mindset. That topic alone is confusing for many young people…it’s even confusing for members of older generations, but knowing the difference is critical for career success.
Yes. Although I’m still being booked in 2010 to conduct seminars “about” Millennials for industry conferences and corporations, I know this won’t be a hot topic forever. And, as a certified Leadership Coach, I really like expanding into working with younger employees about leadership. Millennials are obviously the future of our world and workforce, so if I can impact them in a positive way, we’ll all benefit.
Another bonus is that my Leadership and Career Coaching for Millennials is also attracting young entrepreneurs to me. I have quite a few clients in their 20’s who have started their own businesses and are hiring me to help them build their leadership skills so that they can run their businesses effectively. Plus, I have a 20-year history of owning a successful marketing agency so they benefit from my consultation in that area, too.
I believe my leadership platform has longevity to it, and I truly enjoy traveling down this new path of working with Millennials directly. They are a terrific, bright, enthusiastic generation, so I’m excited about supporting their personal and career growth.
Lisa Orrell, The Generation Relations Expert, is an in-demand corporate speaker, consultant, and professional Leadership & Career Coach for Millennials. She is the author of the award-winning book “Millennials Incorporated”, and her new book, “Millennials Into Leadership”, was just released on Amazon and praised with 5 star reviews. This new book is the ultimate handbook for Millennials aspiring to be respected, effective young leaders at work. And based on her workforce dynamics expertise, she has also been featured by countless media, such as: MSNBC, ABC, NPR, The NY Times, Wall Street Journal, BNET.com, FoxBusiness.com and Human Resource Executive. For more info about Lisa’s seminars, keynotes, workshops, coaching, and books, visit: http://www.TheOrrellGroup.com. People also follow Lisa’s insights on Twitter @GenerationsGuru