Millennials are beginning to dominate the job market and the workforce. This new generation of employees possesses the highest level of education we have ever seen to enter the workforce. Leaders need to ask themselves if they are capitalizing on this higher education and advanced skill sets or if they are stuck in old patterns of management designed to accommodate boomers.
Today’s employees want autonomy to make their own decisions and they want the authority to take action where improvement or change is necessary, they are also more than qualified to do these things, so what is getting in the way from this happening? This is where we open up the discussion about the popular and over used top down approach to management.
The top down approach is when leaders in an organization including CEOs, executives and management make decisions and put policies and procedures in place for employees to follow. This approach is completely irrelevant to management in today’s marketplace and millennials won’t stick around in this kind of environment. This is putting pressure on organizations to create a working environment where this new generation of employees can use their skills, think for themselves and grow in a creative and team supportive environment.
The consequences of remaining in a top down approach to management are great.
The most devastating consequence is that the organization won’t benefit from the creative input from this generation and the skill sets they possess – which if utilized correctly could give your organization a strategic advantage over competitors who are stuck in their old ways of doing things.
Secondly, management teams are quickly growing impatient at having to direct employees on how to do tasks, when to do them, and then what to do next. By giving employees autonomy to make decisions and and use their skills, organizations can have employees running the day-to-day business tasks so they can focus on their strategy – what will really propel the organization to the next level. Therefore, autonomous employees take a load off of management’s shoulders.
The bottom line is that when you diminish the ability for people to use their fundamental skills and capabilities and you also quickly kill their creativity, and they’ll then move on to an organization where they can grow.
How do we shift from this top down approach to a working environment that provides employees with independence and levels of high engagement? Leaders must shift from directing employees and advising them to empowering them and supporting them. Here are some of the ways they can do this:
First, get to know the employees individually and make an effort to understand the employee’s strengths and weaknesses. Capitalize on their strengths by putting them in the appropriate roles and strengthen their weaknesses by pairing them with people who are strong in that skill set.
When it comes time to make a decision, instead of telling them what to do ask them what they think they should do. This empowers them and gives them confidence to make good decisions for the organization in the future.
– Have dialogues with employees around their perceptions of growth for themselves, as well as areas of knowledge they can pursue.
– Involve employees in the formulation of guidelines and create an environment in which procedures are dynamic not static.
– Scheduled time for brainstorming solutions for organizational challenges.
Finally, conduct collaborative team reviews of existing procedures with autonomy to revise for greater productivity and efficiency.
Following the guidelines above will ensure that your employees remain highly engaged in their roles and also benefits the organization as it can capitalize on this new generation of skills and ideas.