Before you know it, business as usual will be anything but usual. Why? Surprise, surprise. You have Millennials to blame.
Or perhaps it’s more appropriate to say you have Millennials to thank.
You see, by 2020, Millennials will make up 46% of the workforce. More than any other generation. To some that’s a very scary reality.
Because since they first landed here, so to speak, Millennials have been those self-absorbed social media-crazed kids who’d rather meet a YouTube star than a “real celebrity.”
To many, Millennials are a different breed. Technology and a post-9/11 existence have thrusted them into a culture many of us are still adapting to.
But they don’t need to adapt. They’re shaping this culture. In the same way they’re shaping business offices and companies across the country.
And while folks from, ahem, older generations might roll their eyes at these smartphone-addicted kiddos, the reality is, Millennials can be the leading charge toward creating an innovative workspace that’ll redefine success for your company.
If you know how to engage them.
Engaging Millennials means inspiring them. Not bossing them around. It means investing in them and their ideas. Not employing outdated management strategies.
And for many business leaders, that’s a bitter pill to swallow.
But put aside the inconveniences of adapting to a new type of thinker. What you’ll see is Millennials bring incredible excitement, and new perspectives to your office.
Which is exactly what you want.
While it’s silly to box people into generational stereotypes, most Millennials have one thing in common: they want to make a difference.
They’re not primarily motivated by money. Rather, they’re motivated by empowering others.
That truly does shift the way current leaders mold the leaders of tomorrow.
For instance, most Millennials prefer to be “led” than “managed.” In other words, they prefer to have their opinions validated. They don’t want to be told what to do.
Don’t confuse that with insubordination. We don’t mean Millennials are spoiled brats. Far from it. They see every individual as adding value toward a greater purpose. That shift is creating a new attitude when it comes to the very nature of leadership.
An attitude that nurtures innovation.
Millennials see the workplace as a hub of innovation. They view work as a place to be social, not just put in a good 8 hours. Collaboration is at the forefront of everything they do.
That’s right. We tend to think of social media as anti-social media, but the generation that grew up with Facebook is anything but antisocial.
And as Millennials take on leadership roles, offices across the country will begin to mirror this collaborative perspective where relationships and teamwork trump individual contributions.
You can get ahead of the pack by embracing the concept of team collaboration. This doesn’t necessarily mean creating an open-space office. There are pros and cons to that construct.
More important than the architectural changes you implement is the culture you instill. If you want to get the most out of your youngest workers, rewarding individual achievements with bonuses and high-fives won’t get you far.
Think of how you can encourage solidarity among your troops. Don’t divide them. Through this collaborative think tank that you create you’ll marvel at the individual moments of genius that arises.
You may be asking why it’s so important to embrace your youngest workers and encourage their perspectives. That’s because, by nature, how they think is the foundation of innovation.
Tim Brown, CEO of innovation and design company IDEO, gave a TED talk focused on the importance of play and creativity at work.
According to Brown, companies that give permission to play are more apt to see higher levels of creativity.
Think of it, many of us are at our most innovative as children. When rules of the universe take a backseat toward the limitless boundaries of our minds. As adults, we allow restrictions of reality to mold what we deem possible.
But if you create a workplace of play you’re allowing all your workers to feel comfortable breaking from the mold. And it just so happens that this type of social construct is exactly what Millennials want, and expect, from their workplace.
Allow them to take the leadership role in implementing a play-like culture at your office. See what happens. We’re willing to bet you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
Another important component that fosters great innovation is communication and collaboration. Engaging on a significant and open level remains one of the best ways to nurture innovation. It’s the incessant brainstorming session – without the formal label of, well, a brainstorm session.
The spark of genius doesn’t come just because you scheduled a meeting. Sure, formal brainstorming sessions are valuable. Don’t lose them. But the more comfortable your team feels at engaging in these back-and-forth conversations with colleagues as the moment strikes them, the more likely your team as a whole will work together to build something great.
The Millennial generation knows this. They’ve already had to endure lectures in school that attempted to stifle their creativity; that robbed them of opportunities to collaborate with like-minded, and no so like-minded people.
You’ll do them, and yourself, a favor by tearing down the stereotypes of a ‘productive’ workplace and encouraging a social company culture where the greater good of the team will always be rewarded more than the success of the individual.
And if you can achieve that, you’ll not only tap into the limitless potential of Millennials. You’ll create a workplace environment that’s custom-built for innovation.