The modern workplace is in the midst of generational change.

Research by Pew Research Center has demonstrated that over 10,000 baby boomers reach retirement age every day, leaving the largest generational group in the workforce today comprised of – you guessed it – Millennials.

Millennials surpassed Gen X in 2015 as the largest generation within the modern workforce, making them the fastest growing generation in the workplace, with estimates from Deloitte projecting that Millennials will make up 75% of the global workforce as early as 2025.

As the generation born between approximately 1983 and 1996, Millennials have are often met with harsh criticism of their work ethic and values. Labelled as a generation who display little loyalty, high expectations, and who appear starved for positive feedback, modern leaders should work to turn these criticisms on their heads and instead view them as positive attributes, and as ones which can help Millennials improve their current workplace culture and come into their own as powerhouse leaders.

Millennials have high expectations for their workplaces, but they have high expectations for themselves.

As this growing segment of the workforce becomes more present in business, it’s imperative that CEOs and executives start taking note that to help their organizations stay in the game, they must begin to harness the talent and drive of this generation, especially over the next 15 years.

Within the decade we can expect to see unprecedented numbers of Millennials being promoted into leadership positions, and as leaders, we have a responsibility to prepare them for the challenges of effective leadership.

Get Ahead of the Game by Investing Early

We know that the development of Millennial leadership is essential for future-forward organizational change, but a Brandon Hall Group 2015 State of Leadership Study concluded that a mere 20% of organizations identified “Millennial leadership development” as a priority within the following two years.

This lack of incentive demonstrates the paradox Millennials face: they have been marked as a generation who craves feedback, yet only 7% of organizations have invested in Millennial coaching, mentoring, and time with CEOs and other high-level executives.

As older generations begin to retire en masse, Millennials will move into occupying their management, Executive, and C-suite roles, and the key to preparing them for the challenges of leadership is to change our understanding how Millennials think within the modern workplace.

Having a well-developed understanding of what they expect out of their job and how to coach them into the leadership roles that they will inevitably ascend to within their organization is essential for any organization, and forward-thinking agencies and enterprises have already begun the succession planning necessary to harness the potential of the Millennial workforce and coach them into high-level, C-suite roles.

Keep your organization ahead of the game and recruit, hire, and coach the Millennial talent to arm them with the necessary Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities (KSAs )that will yield long-term ROI for your business.

Bridge the Skill Gap through Coaching and Understanding

According to a study done by the Human Capital Institute of 670 high-hevel HR, Talent Management (™) and Learning and Development (L&D) professionals, most of the perceived differences in generational cohorts seem to be myths:

  • The values surrounding short-term tenure, narcissistic tendencies, and social responsibility did not vary wildly intergenerationally.
  • Development opportunities, career advancement, and flexibility at work were the same work preferences for most age groups in the modern workforce
  • The recognition of quality work, manager support, and opportunities to share feedback with decision-makers are the top 3 values endorsed by all age groups.

With a growing number of baby boomers reaching retirement age, enterprises must make up for the potential skill gap between experience and talent. It’s time for senior-level executives to put aside their generalizations and assumptions about Millennials and put strategies in place which will attract and retain the best of their generation.

By creating a dependable strategy which paves the way for Millennial leadership success, you can fill a potential skill gap and increase your workplace’s human capital tenfold.

Use the steps below to begin preparing your Millennial employees to flourish and grow into leadership positions within your organization:

1. C-Suite Executives: Provide Regular Feedback and an In-Depth Plan

Millennials crave feedback from their senior colleagues, as this is a generation who grew up with on-demand intangible rewards. However, it’s a rare occurrence that they will actually reach out and ask for it.

[Tweet “According to Gallup, only 17% of Millennials report receiving meaningful routine feedback.”]

These statistics mean that current managers and other high-level executives must take initiative to provide the actionable, useful feedback that will fine-tune Millennial skills and motivate the best of the best to develop their existing skill set, having set their eyes on those high-level positions.

Millennials tend to take a different approach to their work. They’re a passionate and driven generation who are eager to make a positive impact within their place of work. Managers can nurture their leadership skills with meaningful, informal meetings which advise Millennials on their development, and how they can better understand and perform at a level equal to your business’ behavioral competency.

When dealing with high-potential employees who meet the requirements to bridge the skill gap in your company’s succession plan, current leaders can develop a plan which helps to nurture the right skills and expertise within Millennials who show proper leadership potential.

Take the time to research which “soft” and “hard” skills the high-level executives in your current organizational structure possess, and create a strategy to coach your Millennial employees with these necessary traits.

Goal-planning during your informal and formal feedback sessions provides opportunities to discuss the in-depth future goals of your best-in-class Millennial employees and provides a platform for connection and communication to discuss future skill development and coaching.

2. Jump Start Millennial Development

The Brandon Hall Group study we referred to earlier also uncovered that only 10% of organizations have at least one successor who is prepared to ascend to the most important positions within their company. To curb the effects of the inevitable Baby Boomer and Gen X skill gap, current leaders need to jump-start Millennial professional development and succession planning that aligns with the critical leadership positions within their organization.

However, the study also found that one of the top priorities for organizations was closing leader skill gaps over the next two years. With Millennials set to occupy >more than 30% of management positions before 2025, companies need to bring their leadership development training up a notch, creating an accessible and personalized training experience.

The leaders of both today and tomorrow expect a developmental learning experience which consists of accessible micro-content which has been developed for their unique learning and knowledge needs.

3. Invest in Emotional Intelligence Training

Future-forward leaders recognize the importance of high Emotional Intelligence (EQ) for managing and leading employees to success.

Not only are high EQ levels necessary for a potential leader, but they’re also vital for a high overall workplace competency. As your Millennial employees work their way up to leadership positions, ensure that you’re providing proper emotional intelligence coaching and training which promotes:

  • Self-awareness
  • Empathy
  • Effective Communication Skills
  • Healthy Relationship Management
  • Awareness of Emotional Surroundings

4. Pair Your Best Leadership Candidates with a C-Suite Mentor

As discussed earlier, Millennials crave intangible rewards within the workplace. To nurture these positive working and training experience which shape future leaders, pair a senior-level mentor with your best-in-class Millennial employees. Mentorships can help cultivate the attitude and skills needed to successfully take over high-level executive leadership roles.

By pairing your top talent who show signs of leadership potential with a social C-suite mentor, Millennials can access a bird’s-eye view into how your company operates, and the expectations of a successful and respected leader.

Another option is reverse mentoring, a newer technique to mentoring and coaching practices in which the tables are turned on who coaches whom. When your best-in-class Millennial talent can share their insights and perspectives on the modern facets of the workplace – such as in social media and tech trends – executives can also benefit from modern perspectives and ideas.

By choosing to invest in-house time and resources into providing your Millennial workforce with the proper insights and coaching needed to nurture their leadership potential, you can close the skill gap and create a succession plan which aligns with the values and future of your organization.

While preparing your future-forward organization for this inevitable generational shift, you can increase the quality of your overall human capital and the wellbeing of your current and future team.

At East Tenth Group, we base our Balanced Leadership teachings on the management of self, the management of others, and leading both internal teams and the business as a whole. Subscribe to our newsletter for the latest high-quality insights and action items, and connect with us on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.


As the CEO & Founder of East Tenth Group, Michelle leverages 25 years of business and experience as a strategic advisor and executive coach to help drive actionable people solutions and provide practical insights on business strategy to senior leaders. she and her team and are fiercely committed to the development and growth of people and companies because we believe that when people thrive, business thrives.

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