By: Steve Van Valin, CEO of Culturology
If you want to learn how to engage Millennials in your workforce, take cues from social media. Although there are more similarities than differences between generations, there’s one social media communication factor that stands out in great contrast. According to Buzzstream.com research, over 25% of Millennials now use their mobile phone as their primary device to view content. Both Gen X and the Boomers still use their laptops or desktop as their go-to devices to view content. This factor has significant ramifications in the way Millennials want to be communicated with in the workplace.
Why does this matter? In addition to being digital natives that grew up in the golden age of the smart phone revolution, Millennials have become extra savvy at personalizing their desired media through apps.
Mobile is fresh, relevant, and immediately available. Mobile is able to PUSH what you want, when you want it. They want and need that same mode of communication at work. Are you delivering on their expectations?
This quote from a Millennial says it all about why they love mobile: “I almost never use an actual computer unless I am at work or have to process data. Mobile is easy because it is with you at all times. Mobile devices also send “push” notifications which alert you about certain things. For instance, I have the ESPN app configured to tell me the scores of Eagles, Flyers, and Phillies games, plus major news. So instead of going on a computer and typing in ESPN.com and looking at the Eagles’ page, I get any relevant info in a snippet on my phone right when it happens. Then I can choose whether to just read the headline and dismiss or to open the app and read more.” This is their expectation for all communication – including the way you communicate as a leader.
Wow, that’s hard to live up to isn’t it? That’s a very high bar. It almost sounds like a full-time job. A lot of leaders feel like they’re really trying hard, but never seem to satisfy the voracious appetite for information and feedback of their millennial teammates. It’s frustrating for everyone.
How can we influence it?
Is there an app for that? The answer is yes. You are the app! Make a couple of immediate changes to leverage this important communication dynamic. Think of it this way: You must PUSH the information to your team. How do you know what they want? Ask them. Become their app store.
Asking them will help you gain emotional intelligence. Empathize and give them what they want. And, be ready to communicate it with speed. Be relentless and communicate LIVE real-time all the time. The best way to do it is still face to face – better known as instantaneous vocal technology. If that’s not practical for you, then send texts like this: “Meeting w designers at 3 re logo. Thx for input. More to come.”
Make your communications quick, easy and digestible. Go for quantity of frequency, not quantity of words. Check -in with them on how it’s going. What’s working and not working? Be willing to make adjustments. They will tell you if there are things you’re communicating that they’d like to “unsubscribe” to. The first thing on their list will likely be your boring weekly status report meeting. Don’t’ take it personally.
The Big Payoff
If you’re a great communicator, then you are at least a good leader by default. Yes, it’s that rare of an attribute. If you’re a good leader, then you’re engaging people to perform at a high level. Everyone on your team, but especially the Millennials, will value and respect you as leader if you’re a communicator who is willing to PUSH out what you know to be true, plus the immediate next steps to make progress on the issue. If it feels fresh, relevant, and timely, then you will gain a leadership edge by engaging the full team to do incredible work.
Imagine having leaders at all levels committed to PUSH communication. What you’ll end up with is an agile innovation culture that feels highly respected, fully informed, and engaged to take on the most pressing challenges in your organization. It starts with the awareness of what’s important to people, and finishes with the moment-to-moment choice to PUSH communication as a true leader.
● Millennials have especially high expectations for communication in the workplace, influenced by the way they use social media to PUSH the information they choose to receive.
● Supervisors, managers, and leaders can become highly effective by implementing proactive and purposeful tactics to communicate with high frequency in real-time.
●PUSH style communication can be taught and executed across an entire organization to shape an agile innovation culture that engages Millennials and all generations.
Steve Van Valin is CEO of Culturology. Culturology works with business leaders to leverage their culture as a strategic advantage.