Really Listening to Millennials at Work

written by Jerry Hogeveen

Why listen?

Jennifer Deal and her co-author Alec Levenson have been researching Millennials and their characteristics, behaviours, proclivities and desires related to work and careers for ten years. Their recent book, What Millennials Want from Work captures the paradoxes of managing millennials and addresses how to maximize engagement in today’s workforce. One of the not entirely surprising insights is Millennials want their core purpose to be understood. When leaders listen for these purposes and concerns, Millennials (and all employees) feel valued and engaged. When leaders are not interested in their purposes they feel disengaged and disinterested and over time may leave. A fundamental axiom in managing people is the recognition that all of us have purposes, concerns and circumstances; i.e. the things that are important to us or the things we care or worry about.

How we listen?

Focusing on what is actually important to them, or what Millennials may consider their purpose is much easier said than done. Leaders in organizations are notoriously ineffective at listening sufficiently well to hear the core purposes.

There are many obstacles to listening purposefully. They include the pace at which we work, not being aware of the role inferences play in potentially distorting the intended message and our amygdala that often makes us feel like we need to either defend or run away from what are perceived as verbal confrontations.

How we can listen more deeply?

To reduce the chance of losing valuable Millennial employees, we need to sharpen our ability to listen purposefully more often.The challenge is to help leaders move fromreacting to what is being said or listening to defendto listening to learn. Listening to learn involves moving to deeper levels of listening. Understanding the various levels of listening is helpful as you move towards listening to learn.



In Summary

Millennials are determined to Do Good AND Do Well. Millennials want work that both enables them to contribute to society in positive ways and that rewards them appropriately. One is not a substitute for the other.Listening purposefully to what motivates these Millennial workers is one of the key challenges facing leaders today. *

Come to hear more hints and tips on April 19th at the Daniels Spectrum: Regent Park, where we will be holding a Millennial Leadership Summit. At this Summit we will unpack some of the big questions surrounding this often maligned and highly influential generation. We’ll explore what leadership looks like for Millennials and how as managers and leaders of Millennials we can help them accelerate their leadership journeyby listening more purposefully.


image01Jerry Hogeveen is one of the partners at NextGenLeaders®

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