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Are Your Future Employees Leaders or Workers?

I regularly consult with companies, large and small, on how they can build their businesses. I met with one of my clients to review their strategic plan. This year, one of their goals was to add a dozen employees in the areas of sales, marketing, and customer service.

As we discussed their options, and reviewed their infrastructure, we noticed a significant crack in their foundation; the company had almost no millennial employees. The Founder/CEO was concerned about not having the next generation of leaders in his 80-employee company. He made an executive decision at our meeting; at least 75% of the new hires would be Millennials.

I told the CEO that I agreed with his decision, but provided a caveat with my response. If his interest was in grooming millennial leaders, it would be critical for his HR team not to hire millennial workers. He asked “what’s the difference?” I replied “Not knowing the difference could jeopardize the future of your company.” I then gave him my definitions for the two groups.

Millennial Leaders – In this group, you will find people who have expressed an interest in taking on greater responsibility in your company. They want to manage projects and teams. Your goal is to give them the opportunity to grow into leadership positions. Developing millennial leaders also allows you to delegate work from your “to do” list as well as from other senior people in your company (think “trickle down” theory). However, it is imperative to review the work being done on a regular basis; you don’t want a project going too far off-course. In that case, you’ve let the millennial leader fail and it’s caused more work for your company. Assign mentors within your organization to work with millennial leaders and make sure they meet on a regular basis to stay on track. If you keep this group motivated and well-fed with responsibilities, they will be the future leaders and mentors in your business.

Millennial Workers – There are many people in the workforce who simply aren’t interested advancing their careers. They are perfectly happy in their current job, and don’t want to manage people or projects. These workers are also a vital part of your organization as they will play an integral role in helping you achieve your goals. The key to managing this type of millennial worker is to not push leadership opportunities on them. Accept them for who they are and the role they play. A mistake often made in developing leaders in a company is ignoring the groups of people who choose not to participate in the leadership programs. A smart leader will acknowledge the work being done by this group, Millennials or otherwise, and remind them that they matter.

As you review your strategic plan and the makeup of your employees, where are the holes in your plan? Do you need to hire leaders or workers? More importantly, are you doing everything you can to keep both groups motivated and happy? Your success rests in their hands.

Brian Moran

Brian Moran

Prior to rejoining the world of entrepreneurship, Brian was the Executive Director of Sales Development at the Wall Street Journal where he oversaw the sales development and marketing programs for the financial and small business categories among the many Journal brands. From 2002-2010, Brian was President of Veracle Media and Moran Media Group.

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