Until just over a year ago, I was a self-proclaimed ‘professional intern.’ Now, with 4 separate internships under my belt and entry level jobs at 2 different organizations, I’ve learned a thing or two about what senior, high-level leaders need to know about us young, passionate guys on a mission to make the world a little more awesome.
So, if you’re a senior leader and you’ve got a few millennials stepping into your organization (and under your leadership), here are a few things we think you should know:
1| Tell me you believe in me.
This seems so basic but so many leaders miss it. Yes, I know the internship or the job or the opportunity or the gig is a BIG deal and that I wouldn’t have gotten it if you didn’t believe in me – but hearing that you think I can do it is powerful. Knowing that you believe in me after a successful task (or even a missed opportunity) will remind me that I have your support.
2| Be available.
Please don’t tell me you hope to get coffee with me to hear about what I’m learning or what my goals are and then not make time for me on your schedule. Please don’t promise me an opportunity to learn from you, hang out with your family, or pick your brain on something and then discredit the importance of that occasion to both myself and you. If you can’t be available, say so. Don’t drag my time and schedule through the mud because you are too busy.
3| Give me real opportunity.
Let me lead a campaign, run with an idea, champion an event or promote an initiative. And when you let me do it, don’t micro-manage all the details. Trust me to do the job whether it works or not. The lesson is not in the success or failure, it’s in the work I put into it. (Which leads me to my next point…)
4| Let me fail.
That campaign I led? The idea I thought would save the world? The event I was in charge of? If I failed (and I will eventually), help me figure out what I can do to be better next time. Just because it wasn’t perfect, doesn’t mean it was useless. Hey, at least I tried it, right?
5| We aren’t all stereotypes.
Please don’t make assumptions about me because of what other millennials do. Just because they sleep in until 11 doesn’t mean I will. Just because they have certain tendencies, doesn’t mean I do. Give me the opportunity to show you who I am before you put me into the box of society’s stereotypes. I want to succeed and I am willing to do the work associated with success.
6| I need to know WHY I’m working for you.
I’m not talking about a job description here. I’m talking about a mission. What’s the driving force behind sales goals and profit margins and staff meetings and quotas? WHY are we trying to make money? If there isn’t a way for me (and our organization) to use our influence in the community for good, I’m likely going to be headed elsewhere. Let’s do something FOR others. Let’s help other people succeed.
7| Ask me hard questions.
But don’t just ask – care. Ask me about my budget and then show me how to make it better. Ask me about my life and what I enjoy. Ask me if I’m accountable to my schedule and if I’m making good choices. If you see something about me that needs to be brought to my attention, approach me in a way that promotes growth and truth. You may think I don’t want it, but I need you to ask and I want to know you care.
Remember, you were just like me at one point. You were starting out and you had questions and doubts and fears and dreams. You needed direction and wanted an opportunity. Let’s work together and help one another succeed. The world needs more of that.
There isn’t a shortage of folks telling us we can succeed, we need you to help us get there.