Next Generation Leaders: What They Want and Need From the Workplace

Have you ever wondered what makes Millennials tick? So did we, so in the fall of 2011, we interviewed Millennials and their managers to learn more about this generation. Because many organizations struggle with how to best integrate Millennials into the workplace, we interviewed Millennials and their managers through face to face and telephone interviews. The people we interviewed came from a variety of organizations and industries, ranging from Fortune 500 companies to small companies. The survey spanned different industries including the drug industry, engineering, biotechnology and financial services.

Just Who are the Millennials?

Born between the years of 1977 and 1997, the Millennials are the youngest generation to enter the workplace. Millennials grew up with school shootings, terrorist attacks, AIDS, the Exxon Valdez spill and the Internet which influenced their view of the world. As children, they experienced everyone getting awards for playing sports and went to school at a time when gold stars were handed out freely. As a result, Millennials want frequent feedback. Millennials grew up with Baby Boomer parents, many who are self-professed workaholics, and therefore desire more work/life balance than their parents had.

They are resourceful and able to multi-task. They can Google, email and write a report at the same time; they can comfortably find information through the Internet. They work well in team environments and are comfortable speaking up. They also want to make an immediate impact in their jobs and move up quickly.

According to the managers who we spoke with, their Millennial employees are energetic and creative. They also are flexible, technology-savvy, resourceful, can retrieve information quickly and efficiently, and are open minded. Millennial employees are not afraid of discovering new things; they want to learn and are eager to try something new.

What Do They Want?

Millennials report that they have a great vision of the world. They consider the world as something positive with a lot of opportunities. Millennials told us things like, “The world has endless possibilities” and “There are so many things to learn and to be exposed to and not enough time to do everything”.

Their attraction to fast-paced environments and their self-confidence allows them to handle multiple tasks without a problem. However, it is important to find a balance regarding workload. Too much of a workload could turn them off, but not enough could reduce their enthusiasm. Also, workplace flexibility is a benefit that Millennials value. We heard comments like, “I usually work eleven hours a day but I am satisfied by the fact that my boss doesn’t demand a strict 9 – 5 schedule.”

One thing that stood out is that many of the Millennials we spoke to are interested in working for an employer whose corporate ethics match their own. We heard comments like, “I want to work for a company that has the same values that I do” and, “I would like to work in a company helps the world and uses green technologies.”

What Frustrates Them?

Something we heard over and over again in talking with the Millennials we interviewed is that they want to hear the truth from their bosses, they want feedback and they want it right away. One Millennial commented, “I want honesty, respect, open communication, to be informed constantly, and to learn my manager’s expectations.”

The time to leverage the talents and welcome the Millennials into organizations is now. More experienced workers are rapidly nearing retirement age and their accumulated wisdom and expertise could soon be walking out the door. In addition, Millennials are actively asking for more training, coaching and mentoring opportunities. Bringing together older workers’ experience and Millennials’ creativity can lead to groundbreaking innovations. Here are a few ways to provide mentoring for Millennials:

  • Create an open mentoring culture where people learn from each other in a wide variety of formal and informal relationships.
  • Use technology to help people sign up and get connected.

What Gets in the Way?

Managers tell us that Millennials prefer communicating through e-mail; they do not like face to face meetings as much. Millennials tend to lose concentration easily because of technologies, spending time checking texts, e-mails, etc. One manager told us, “They are distracted by technologies and social media.”

Millennials may choose the fastest path to the solution and think they deserve to be promoted quickly. The energy and enthusiasm they can generate can be considered a challenge by their managers. One manager said, “They are highly ambitious, but they have short term goals. They want to reach management quickly and need to be managed very carefully with career paths that keep them from jumping to other companies.”

They are inexperienced at understanding the complexity of politics and process, underestimate them and focus on the short term. A manager said, “They need to understand company policies and work within them as opposed to making up their own rules.” A Millennial said, “I want to understand and manage politics and learn effective project management strategies.”

What do Managers Need to Know to Support and Help Them Develop?

Millennials have a real desire to learn and grow, which is advantageous to organizations because as Baby Boomers and others retire from the workplace there will be a need for Millennials to take over leadership positions more quickly than generations before them. There’s a perfect match between the Millennials’ desire to make an immediate contribution, to be leaders, and to learn and grow in their organizations, and the need for them to quickly take over leadership roles. This means that frequent performance appraisals, mentoring programs, coaching and training will be essential for growing and sustaining leaders. A Millennial said, “I want to know when my manager is happy with the work that is done and if he is expecting more.” Another commented, “I want the opportunity to shadow others and learn about areas outside my scope of responsibility.”

How Can Human Resources Support These Emerging Leaders?

As Millennials move into management and leadership positions, we predict that there will be an emphasis on them asking others for their opinions as opposed to “it’s my way or the highway.” There will be respect for different points of view and different opinions. There will be greater teamwork, a lot of creativity and a lot of having fun as well as working hard.

Some tips for attracting, retaining and growing your Millennial workforce include:

  • Articulate your employer brand – communicate internally and externally what it means to work for your organization;
  • Have a clear statement about corporate responsibility – make this part of your employer brand and be committed to deliver the promise;
  • Think creatively about how technology can be used to engage Millennials e.g. avatars, internal networking sites, etc.;
  • Create an on-boarding experience for Millennials that helps them learn your company culture;
  • Be crystal clear about company policies such as social media;
  • Set clear performance expectations and explain why something needs to be done;
  • Use e-mail and voicemail as primary tools when you cannot meet face-to-face;
  • Don’t force utilization of the chain of command;
  • Don’t talk down to them – they will resent it;
  • Provide them with feedback – early and often;
  • Hold them accountable and let them know when they have screwed up;
  • Tell them what they do well;
  • Judge them by what they accomplish rather than the number of hours they put in;
  • Encourage them to share their ideas with you;
  • Listen;
  • Invest in personal development and training – explore coaching/mentoring programs;
  • Provide variety and fresh challenges – consider promoting cycles of experience in other parts of the organization;
  • Teach your Millennials to become problem solvers;
  • Tell stories, share your wisdom, or teach them something you wish you would have known when you were their age;
  • Think creatively about reward strategies and what motivates Millennials. For example, is it time to shift from cash bonuses and cars to other things?

Organizations today need to understand and support each generation. Providing training on the differences between the generations will reduce conflict and improve communication and interaction. Offering mentoring programs will help grow all of your employees. Don’t delay. Your success depends on it.

Actors – There’s an App for That

There are numerous phone apps that will make the actor’s life easier. An awareness of these tools can increase the efficiency of learning one’s craft as well as improving marketing efforts. This article spotlights what basic types of apps are available plus the benefits and caveats of using them.

An actor’s life is constantly on the move. With workshops, auditions, rehearsals, interviews, and photo shoots, staying in touch and being prepared demands new tools. Phone apps have made the actor’s life easier with readily available background information, learning programs, and job listings. When installed on your iPhone or Android, it’s possible to accomplish a multiple of tasks.

Let’s say you have an audition for a film or TV role. You can bring up credits on a director for which you are auditioning or a list of movies or clients represented by the casting director. Having this information readily available allows you to authenticate your auditors and having talking points that enliven the interview. The most prevalent data base is IMDb. On the pro version, it’s possible to obtain contact information on these people for follow-up efforts.

Learning one’s lines or rehearsing without a partner is another task confronting actors. There are numerous rehearsal or teleprompter apps that allow you to learn your lines in multiple ways; visually, orally, or in peekaboo blackout mode. You can open your scripts directly from the email message in which you receive them or work with a PDF and Word files you get off your computer. In most apps, you can record your lines and play them back, watching the script scroll by like a teleprompter and quickly fast rewind or fast forward to pick up lines simply by scrolling the script. In some apps, it’s possible to add beat marks to divide longer passages into manageable beats and depending on the device, create “notes in the margins” regarding choices, looks or gestures. On more expensive apps, voice talent can audition for voiceover work from anywhere and email in your auditions as MP3 files from anywhere to anyone. Such rehearsal apps make it possible to rehearse anywhere without a partner. Rehearsal 2 and Scene Partner are common apps in this category.

Some apps are informative, empowering and educate those interested in pursuing a career in the film and television business. One of these is Actor Genie whose website lists resources for which to track what’s casting. These resources include audition and casting links such as Actors Access, LA Casting, and Backstage Magazine.

Keeping track of appointments, events, and everyday reminders in another task apps can do. With such an app, you can organize and keep track of auditions. You can also track meetings, workshops, networking opportunities and more. AuditionCal and iPerform are similar apps in this category and can help restore order to a chaotic life.

If you live in LA, you have to deal with freeway congestion and limited parking. Sigalert App offers detailed freeway speed information along with reports on accidents, construction, and traffic jams. The app Polis Assist helps clarify difficult and confusing parking signage on a particular street. It will also alert you before your parking times expires, and automatically check you out at the end of your park so that you can avoid parking tickets.

There are, of course, a multitude of apps available for actors and this article covers the most basic needs. Locating more apps or finding where to download them is a problem in that most are only available for selected types of phones or their operating system. The three most common platforms are iPhone, Android, and Windows. Apple Store/iTunes handles almost all the apps for iPhone (iOS). Android apps are found mainly on Google Play. And Window apps are available at the Microsoft Store/Windows Phone Store. Amazon Appstore is an alternative application store for the Android operating system.

When determining which apps are best for you, Google the general category and look at the selection of apps available and their specifications. For instance, rehearsal or teleprompter apps is one category to assist with dialogue memorization. Audition appointment/organizer/calendar apps is another category used to schedule and remind you of events. There are also apps that inform, empower and educate those pursuing the business and craft/techniques of acting. Make comparisons, read reviews, and view when available, videos on their installation and operation. Be aware that certain apps are only available for certain operating systems, be it iOS or Android.

Prices, benefits, and terms are also considerations. Costs can vary from free to $0.99 up to $24.00. Benefits to consider are ease of operation, range of features, and relevance to your needs. Some free apps may require an upgrade at nominal cost. Most apps have no end date, yet a few might be on an automatic monthly or yearly renewal. This is an issue to watch closely.

Another issue, does the app need a connection to the internet to be operational or does it work independently within the phone. When you’re out of signal range, this can be an issue. The term “app” is a shorten term for “application software”. As such, mobile apps can be a significant security risk, because they transfer unprotected sensitive data to the Internet without knowledge and consent of the users. Data theft is not just the loss of confidential information, one can be vulnerable to cyber-attacks or blackmail. Malicious software can access a device’s SMS messages, browsing history, or voicemail password.

As far as security goes, Apple approves iOS apps through a strict vetting process before listing them in the App Store, while Google’s Android Market app security involves simply warning the user that an app needs permissions to perform certain functions during the install. To avoid trouble down the road, it is wise to avoid third-party providers and instead go with reputable outlets like App Store, Google Play and Microsoft Store.

When using apps or your phone in general, one can use a great number of minutes on your plan. One way to combat this problem is to seek out locations with a wi-fi connection. Places such as coffee shops, certain restaurants or your local library can fulfill this need. Also, look online for Creative Spaces which offer free wi-fi. An added benefit, using wi-fi usually results in faster transaction speeds. It’s also best to disable data-sucking apps you don’t use often as automatic updates can wreak havoc the data usage. Update only when connected to wi-fi.

This article covers some of the benefits of acting apps. However, there are also several caveats to using these apps. Foremost is the tendency to become obsessed with their features and therefore neglect its chief functions, to facilitate perfecting one’s craft and promoting one’s talents. So often, users become infatuated with the bells and whistles and forget these are tools, not toys. Another caveat, these apps tend to inhibit personal interaction and instead promote digital encounters. Acting is face to face occupation, whether in networking, job seeking or performance. While apps can make this transition easier, they should never replace it. And lastly are the safety issues. Keep your mind and eyes on the task at hand, whether you are entering an elevator, crossing the street, or driving to your next audition. There’s an app for that. It’s called turning off your phone.