What keeps Millennials engaged and productive? The opportunity to develop capabilities that employers will value in the future. The requirements of this new generation of knowledge workers are clear: develop me or lose me. A recent HBR blog piece, If You’re Not Helping People Develop, You’re Not Management Material, makes this point most persuasively without specifically focusing on Millennials. It talks about moving from pushing team members to perform to asking for performance in exchange for fostering growth and development. When managers don’t deliver their side of the bargain, Millennials move on, not because they have bad attitudes but rather because they know they will be working for many years and want to be sure they have the capabilities to get hired.
Think about it. The concept of lifetime employment is gone. So, your people are not going to be focused on how to climb the ladder over a career with you. Instead, they will want to make sure they will be able to find good work in the future, with you or elsewhere. We are seeing the emergence of a new model, moving from employment to employability. Your Millennials ask themselves simple questions every day: If I no longer want to work here or they no longer want me, where can I go next? What capabilities will enable me to do this? If they are being properly developed by their managers, they will be confident and they will continue to contribute. If not, they will find a different position, internally or elsewhere, that will improve their employability.
In my blogs, I have often discussed how managers are the lynchpin of talent management. When considering Millennial development, this point is brought into even sharper focus, moving it to the top of the talent agenda, along with team performance. It’s time for talent professionals to revisit the subject of manager capabilities, specifically considering the latest tools such as assessments for choosing managers who are able to exhibit the right developmental behaviors and for matching Millennials with managers who can be expected to have strong relationships with their team members.