Instead of complaining about the newest generation in the workforce, association communications teams should be listening and learning from them.
By Anne Zender
Employers can’t afford to
overlook the Millennial generation and the lessons they have to teach, says Jamie
Notter, founding partner of WorkXO and author of When Millennials Take Over:
Preparing for the Ridiculously Optimistic Future of Business.Millennials are important, he says, because there are so many
of them, and they are shining a light on what the
future of business is going to look like."
In a June presentation to AM&P members, Notter notes that he’s
heard a lot of complaining about the Millennial generation for the last decade,
but that this conversation is not serving anyone well."We're
constantly saying they don't get it, they are inappropriate, they are not
paying their dues,"he says. "We need to stop the freaking out, and
we need to start being curious about them. They have a
lot to teach us."
Notter, who has been studying Millennials and the workforce for a decade or more, says
he found that organizations that were"doing amazing things”and had strong cultures
were better aligned with the Millennial generation approach."These organizations are
light years ahead of everyone else" and have higher levels of engagement,
The organizations had four things in common: They were digital, clear, fluid, and
fast, Notter says.
In being"digital,” they embraced technology and social
media. Organizations must be mindful that
technology should be customized for customers and employees. For
example, he points to the American Society for Surgery of the Hand, which
designed its work space and culture around the needs of employees, not management.
This has led to higher levels of engagement and more accomplishment.
"Clear” means being transparent and sharing information as a
strategic activity to improve the quality of decision making, Notter says. One
organization posts project management tasks
and responsibilities up on the office walls so that everyone can see how things
are going.People are allowed to make their own decisions
without status updates or email. "In a complex world, you can't know who
needs to know ahead of time, so you make it visible," and the end result
is better work and more customers, Notter says.
Regarding"fluid,”organizations need hierarchy, but it should not be too rigid. One healthcare
organization puts this to work by allowing people who know the most about the
needs of the patient make the decisions about care — not the people
in the hierarchy.
"Fast” means being able to leap ahead, he says.One company
came up with a plan for a new product line in three days, using the staff to do
their own research and development.This mode of working
requires employers to give up traditional
management control and replace it with something they have trust in.
To maximize the wisdom of Millennials, employers should be working
to build these four qualities into their culture, Notter concludes.Millennials place a great deal of value on organizational culture;
they feel it is "as or more important than pay and
Associations don't have to be perfect in all of these areas, but they should be moving in that
direction. "You have to be able to manage this inside your culture and be
intentional about it,” he says."Build digital, clear, fluid,and fast into your
culture...and use what Millennials are teaching us."
Anne Zender (Anne.Zender@AHIMA.org) is senior director of
periodicals at the American Health Information Management Association in
Chicago.AM&P gratefully thanks her for
volunteering to cover this presentation for members unable to attend. For more
Annual Meeting coverage, see the October/November 2016 issue of Signature magazine.