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Developing Millennials: We Need a New Approach

by Kelly Levin on

It’s been said before that Millennials are ushering in a New Age of Work. Whereas an employee was once expected to stay at one organization for the long-term, it is now more acceptable – even expected – that one will work for multiple organizations or change roles within a company. Career progression is less a matter of proving one’s allegiance and loyalty, and more dependent on developing well-rounded career experience, often achieved by moving relatively quickly from role to role.

This change has altered the cultural landscape.  The way Millennials think about their work environment and their expectations for what their organization offers is different than previous generation. They’re drawn to organizations with a sense of purpose, they want to make a difference, feel valued, collaborate, communicate, and explore their own ideas. And these preferences are important: last year, Millennials officially surpassed Generation X and now represent the largest share of the U.S. workforce at 34%.

Ultimately, Millennials expect organizations to invest in their development and grow their skill sets such that they can be effective not only in their current role, but also in future roles. They want to be set up for long-term career success, and feel valued by their employers.

As Millennials view the work environment differently, and as they’re increasingly becoming the majority of the work force, it’s becoming apparent that traditional means of employee development may no longer be a good fit. Something new is needed that speaks to the needs of Millennials while also ensuring that business remains strong and focused.

So, what do organizations and individuals need to do differently to achieve success in this new world? What can be done to ensure both the organization and the employee are aligned, in balance, and getting the best from each other?

While there are many options for performance management and employee development, (360-feedback, traditional performance reviews, and formal training to name a few), we found one method that is particularly well suited to leading and developing Millennials: the Shared Success Framework.

This framework was developed by our colleague, Jay Scherer of Scherer Executive Advisors, and, as well as using it with our clients, Vantage uses it internally for employee development. It raises and answers the question: how do we (employee and organization) help each other achieve Shared Success?

By taking a more holistic look at the needs of the individual and the organization, the framework helps employees develop themselves for the future, while also focusing on their current performance, and situating themselves in the reality of the business such that their development aligns with business success. It’s intrinsically collaborative, seeks balance, and focuses on the specificity of the individual. We’ve found the framework to be motivating for everyone involved.

What is the Shared Success Framework?:

The Shared Success framework aligns individual development plans with organizational strategies, and identifies where overlap exists and where there may be gaps. There are 5 main considerations involved in working through the framework:shared success framework

  1. Individual needs – What is important to you, both professionally and personally? What aligns with your values and interests?
  2. Individual offer – What value do you bring to your key customer(s)? What is your personal value proposition?
  3. Company needs – What does your organization require for success now and in the future? What does the company need from its’ leaders and employees?
  4. Company offer – What is your organization’s value proposition for you? What opportunities are available? What culture does the company provide?
  5. Plan – Analyze gaps and overlap between each quadrant. Develop and implement a plan that balances your grid for shared success.

How does it work?

The Shared Success Framework is a dynamic facilitator, through which leaders and employees can discuss individual and reciprocal needs and bring them into balance; such a tool speaks to the needs of millennials and – more broadly – of the changing workforce and landscape of employment, brought on by the likes of flexible schedules and telecommuting, in a way that traditional performance management tools have not.

Rather than focusing on specific competencies or Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities, the Shared Success Framework refers to an individual’s general needs, allowing him/her to define what’s important and what that means.  For example, an individual can define the need of “autonomy” in his or her own terms (autonomy can be “the freedom to complete work where and when I like” or “the freedom to work on what I like”).

Once the leader understands what needs are important to the employee, then both parties can build a development plan that speaks to how the organization can meet those needs and how the employee can fulfill those needs successfully so that s/he can add value to the organization.

Why it’s good for developing millenials

As the concept of the “lifer” or long-term company employee is becoming extinct, strict adherence to career pathing is not always practical.  The Shared Success Framework’s dynamic nature incorporates the changing needs and goals of the individual and the organization such that leaders and employees can continue to adjust the outcome of the tool.

In addition, employees and leaders can use this tool as a way to measure progress (e.g., “Are we meeting the reciprocal goals we’ve established?”).  The value of the framework over traditional development tools, is its (1) individualization, and (2) recognition of reciprocal, changing need-goal relationships over time.  If used effectively, the framework will present the opportunity to create a constant dialogue between the employee and the organization such that each can set actionable, individualized goals that result in outcomes that ideally benefit both parties.

Rather than focusing solely on what the individual can do for the organization (as in past views of the employee-organization relationship), this framework emphasizes Shared Success — what the employee can do for the organization and what the organization can do for the employee.  This aspect is particularly important for organizations that hope to attract and retain Millennials who are motivated by both contributing to and having their needs met by their organization.

Implementing the Shared Success Framework

As with any performance management tool, successful implementation depends on an effort to engage in an on-going developmental conversation.  Below is a list of recommendations to consider in order to position employees and organizations to succeed with this framework:

  • Organizations need to have an established mission, thereby identifying the organization’s needs
  • Leaders and employees need to make time for this. Among other things, it requires on-going, dynamic conversation, tracking progress, and giving feedback
  • Leaders and employees must be jointly accountable and prepared to give and take
  • Employees need to be thoughtful and honest about development and open to sharing with leaders
  • Organizations need to be creative. For example, if an individual operates in a flat organization, but seeks to fulfill a need to lead others – how can a leader offer growth opportunities or informal leadership opportunities for this employee?

Almost fifty percent of Vantagians (as we call ourselves), are Millennials, each with different needs and offerings.  The Shared Success Framework’s individualized approach to development has been welcomed by everyone, Millennials and non-Millennials alike.  We have found that this tool can successfully span generations, at least in our Vantage home.

This begs the question, then, how would this fit into your organization?

 

This article was co-written by Kelly Scherer.

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