When Everybody Loves to Learn
Does this sound at all familiar? I remember being a young professional in the marketing field being spoken to as if I knew nothing. I had completed a lengthy and high-level education with solid job experience. Didn’t I deserve credit for that?
In hindsight, the executives were probably trying to provide direction so that I could do my job better or save me from disappointment. However, at the time it seemed tiresome that seniority practiced a completely directive style over younger employees and thought they always knew better because of a longer career history. In my mind, that shouldn’t be a given. Without minimizing their credentials, I didn’t think I was truly being seen for who I was and what I was able to offer.
Recently, sitting at a professional luncheon, an observation was posed to me by a seasoned executive. Since I work with organizations on developing their young leadership, I was to be the one to agree with the observation (or not). “Millennials are not open to suggestions or direction at work. I really can’t tell them anything.” My reply surprised my lunch-mate, “like with anyone, it depends on your approach. They love communication and learning. It’s all in the way it’s expressed.”
During that lunch exchange, I reminisced on those years when I was a newbie. Those early “conversations” could have gone much better if I was told how my actions might affect others, and if I had been encouraged to ask questions for a real discussion and learning opportunity.
Before dismissing young professionals’ ability to learn and take direction, first put yourself in their shoes of being told what to do without a full explanation and a chance to ask questions and give input. Are you truly seeing them as people or task-masters? And, if there was a discussion, could they possibly provide valuable insights you hadn’t considered? Then, be mindful of your approach and intended goal. Is it more important that you engage the younger person in the work so that they can learn or is it more important that they mindlessly follow instructions?
If the end goal is to develop and retain your great talent, not continually replace them, be open to having conversations when you want something done. Trust me, everybody wins and everybody learns when there’s real conversation.
I work with clients everyday who are trying to navigate through different mindsets, workstyles and priorities to develop the best talent, create positive change and increase ROI. If you’d like to increase your ability to attract, develop and retain emerging leaders, let’s talk. You can reach me at Susan@SusanGoldbergLeadership.com.