Millennials: The Top 10 Skills for Success
Marian Vallotton |
Training and Development
A Millennial Population Explosion
As published trends reveal, the growth of the youngest generation in the workplace, Gen Y (also known as the Millennial Generation) will reach 50% of the population in just a couple of short years.
Employers expect these newcomers to come fully loaded, already possessing a core set of professional skills (soft skills) such as: interpersonal skills, problem-solving abilities, a strong work ethic and the ability to learn from constructive feedback. But many companies are reporting a skills gap, according to a 2013 International Youth Foundation study.
What’s interesting is that 77% of 2013 graduates expect their first employer to provide formal training, but only 48% out of 2011 & 2012 graduates actually received formal training in their first job post graduation according to an Accenture Survey in April of 2013.
Translating this data is simple. For new graduates to be successful in the world of work they need success skills which employers are finding sorely lacking in this population, and the funny thing is employers aren’t doing anything about it.
Are you ready?
MEA has simple advice. No more complaining about what these young folks do or don’t do; it’s time instead to take positive action and build a successful future. MEA is rolling out a program (Ben insert hyperlink to registration) to support employers to do just that. Through a blended media approach of in-person sessions and online modules, we will engage, encourage, train, offer feedback, and coach this youngest generation of workers to take a seat at the table. The end result: employees will learn to build a personal brand that is professional and brings value to your organization.
Through our research, and in talking with many employers, as well as engaging with Millennials, over the past few years, we have identified the following as the Top 10 Success Skills that will contribute to the success of any employee who is just entering the workforce.
The Top 10 Success Skills
1. Interpersonal Skills
How to relate to others goes a long way! Being able to understand where someone is coming from despite differences and communicating in a way that others hear you builds relationships. And, these relationships are the cornerstone of professional success.
Along that same line of thinking, there are subtle, yet not-so- obvious, key concepts important to consider:
- Knowing your company culture and assimilating/adapting
- Respecting the hierarchy/chain of command within the company’s culture
- Independence/dependency expectations: knowing when to take initiative or to ask for help
- Appropriate sharing of opinions: knowing when to suggest ideas or listening and accepting the way things are
2. Appearance & Business Protocol
Business etiquette, being courteous, showing others respect, and demonstrating behavior that is appropriate for the situation all go a long way. Emily Post’s kids’ and grandkids’ business is flourishing today as they follow in their founder’s footsteps. Putting your best foot forward is important and professionalism is what it takes.
When it comes to appearance, we know that What Not to Wear has become a pretty big hit on network T.V. for good reason. It’s as if employers should have a direct hotline to Stacy London and Clinton Kelly the hosts of the show. It’s important to establish the groundwork at your organization by setting expectations around dress, and then role modeling what is appropriate. And of course, including a policy in your Employee Handbook can only reinforce your expectations.
3. Social Networking without a Device
Many employees will find that their career growth will be tied to creating, nurturing and leveraging relationships. These opportunities present themselves in many ways from networking events, to company lunches to committee meetings. Employees need to learn to work the room, establish eye contact, create bonds and build rapport in a face-to-face environment. It’s time to stop hiding behind technical devices. They are a place to start only.
4. Time Management
The Balancing Act: Being prepared, organized and on time are all hallmarks of a personal brand of an achiever. The message one sends when they are late, submit incomplete work or are disorganized, represents the opposite and speaks volumes. Employers again need to set expectations and requirements around using time effectively, and then provide new employees with the coaching and training to build the skills, holding them to it.
In person face to face communication is becoming a lost art, yet email and social media etiquette are important too. Knowing how to determine what to say, how much, who to, and what media to use are all confusing yet important. “What’s in” and “What’s out” isn’t always clear. A company’s culture has lot to do with these choices.
6. Humility, Patience & Demonstrating a Work Ethic
Humility and patience are traits we respect, period! And add a dose of being willing to put the effort in makes for someone who is looking to succeed. Enough said.
How many times do you walk into a room and all heads are down? This has fostered a inability for indviduals to be hear now. Being present is one of the hottest trends based on our inability to do so. At Google one of their top engineers built a training program based on this very topic, to support employees in becoming more engaged in the present moment. Not allowing distractions to take over like personal problems, texting, or email is a discipline that can be fostered.
8.Harnessing Social Media
For many, social media is the primary means of communication outside of work. Millennials have been using it solely with their collective of online friends. It’s time now to understand the crossover between the familiarity of the social world and the professionalism of the business world. Knowing what is not appropriate, or even possibly illegal, and the ramifications of posting inappropriate content is all too important. A clear policy in an employee handbook can go a long way.
9. Confidence & a Can-Do Attitude
Employers and HR professionals are saying that Millennials don’t carry themselves with confidence; can’t look an interviewer in the eye; and aren’t able to participate, without being prompted in meetings. Being confident in delivering messages both formally in presentations as well as informally in a one-on-one are both important to an employee’s brand.
Initiative, problem solving, positivity – overcoming obstacles, and accountability are paramount. These all stem from individuals who are self-motivated and have a high degree of emotional intelligence.
10. Teamwork across Differences
Our workplace demographics are changing rapidly; many new workers have not been in situations where they have engaged with others from all age groups or varied backgrounds. Diversity comes in all shapes and sizes; it’s not just about race and gender any more. Now, the average worker has to consider generations – the techno-phobic vs. tech-savvy, cultural differences, sex and gender preferences, and even something as common as varying personality and communication styles.
Without position power, flexibility, influence and persuasion are key skills to acquire. Employees need to learn how to navigate interdepartmental politics and to manage up the ladder in a world that is no longer a command and control culture. No matter who one is working with, employees must be able to have the ability to flex and adapt.
Millennials need to first understand and then actively counter the preconceived notions and stereotypes that other generations have of them. Employers need to create a climate conducive to growth and engagement that fosters a positive attitude. Training & mentoring will go a long way.