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4 Tips to Developing Millennial and Generation Z Talent




You have just hired a newly educated employee who is full of energy and promise. You believe that he or she will contribute to your company’s growth. But how can you as a leader develop their talent to give value back to the company? 

“Digitalization is key imperative for 2019 – with many companies investing in the recruitment of Millennials and Generation Z  to gain digital competence and new ideas. While they bring innovative approaches, the latest generation also comes with high expectations,” says Jennifer Vessels, CEO of Next Step.

Next Step is a consultancy that maximizes their global customers' growth through commercialization and digital transformation services. From their Silicon Valley perspective they see that Millennials and Generation Z (Gen Z) play a key role for businesses to grow in the digital era.

“Knowing their skills are coveted by startups, corporations and consulting firms, Millennials often approach new jobs questioning ‘how is this going to help me achieve my goals?’ They expect self-fulfillment, challenge, appreciation from manager and co-workers. Without these, they will leave. A recent Harvard Business Review study showed that over 30 percent of Millennials quit within six months of hire and over 50 percent after 18 months.”

According to Vessels, managers need to the following to develop and retain Millennial and Gen Z employees:

1. Recognize their value by understanding each employee’s goals, showing appreciation and rewarding their successes

Engagement starts with a warm welcome by leadership and co-workers – with lots of fun digital swag to say ‘we are delighted you are here.’ From day one, managers play a critical role in development. They must understand the employee’s career and personal goals and recognize progress.  

Feeling ‘valued’ by management and co-workers with small rewards for achievements is the most critical factor in any employee’s decision to stay or leave a company – with digital native talent this is more important as they have many options available.

2. Challenge them with interesting opportunities to have an impact:

Globally, Millennials and Gen Z are known for their desire to make a difference and for their impatience. They want to have an impact and grow immediately – otherwise, they will move on to alternative career options.    

To gain commitment, work assignments must be aligned with their personal interests and passions. When they fully understand the company and department objectives and how achievement of these will impact the world AND their objectives, anything is possible.

3. Empower through clear goals, milestones, and check-ins

Digital natives have a lot of energy and high ambitions. They want flexibility and freedom in their work. However, they often lack the experience and context of situations to be successful if left on their own.  

Effective empowerment means setting very clear, specific goals, outlining recommended approaches, planning key milestones and regularly checking in on progress. In addition, regular meetings provide the manager with opportunities to recognize and reward accomplishments.

4. Coach and mentor growth  

To achieve their high ambitions, digital natives want to learn, get feedback and explore ideas with their manager, peers and mentors.  Mentorship programs and coaching sessions create lasting value.

When engaged, Millennials and Gen Z  talent can accelerate digitalization and innovation. However, to gain return on investment on these digital natives,  managers must listen, develop, challenge, empower and coach them. While this may require new leadership approaches, it pays off as all employees perform at higher levels when they feel valued, empowered, coached and developed.