How to Develop Your Young People in Lockdown
by Adam Kingl
One of the main conclusions I came to in researching my book, Next Generation Leadership, is that Generation Ys (Millennials) crave development more than almost anything else from their organisations. But I question I hear now that we are in lockdown under Covid is: How can we recreate the development that would have happened organically by our youngest colleagues’ observing how senior people go about doing business?
There are still at least a couple of things that we can do. First, even under lockdown, we can invite our young team members to senior stakeholder meetings, senior customers or strategic conversations, even if they are just observing. If we want to enhance a culture of development, one way to do that is to help our people observe desired behaviours. The best definition I’ve ever heard of ‘culture’ is so good because it is so simple. It’s just two words: ‘shared behaviours’. That’s it! But that definition implies that you have to give your people the opportunity to observe behaviours in action, and you can certainly still do that under lockdown.
The second piece of advice I would give is to consider mentoring your youngest employees. These don’t have to be your direct reports, but also make that a reverse mentoring opportunity. You can teach them about how to navigate your organization, advance their careers, serve more sophisticated customers, and they help you with issues such as leveraging social media, identifying new customer segments, and using skills and tools they have acquired which many of their older colleagues have not. It’s also an opportunity to find out for yourself what younger generations want from life, their career and their leaders. I think you’ll find it illuminating!
So how do you still organically develop your Millennial colleagues under lockdown, in ways that don’t cost you anything? First, invite them to senior virtual meetings, and ask them to observe and note behaviours. And second, consider mentoring and asking for reverse mentoring.