(From Forbes) -- Recently, my organization facilitated a roundtable session with fifteen young professionals. Their main concern was how to advance in a multi-generational workplace. Several of these young professionals felt that they didn’t belong or fit in their workplace; they were uncertain about who to trust and didn’t respect the manner in which they were being led. These young professionals were eager to learn the best ways their generation could take control, influence their workplace culture and start performing at the highest levels. They wanted to get noticed, create impact and at the same time discover how to start generating more income and accelerate their advancement.
This three hour roundtable was intense, but we successfully identified what these young professionals were really looking for: how to most effectively teach their baby boomer bosses how they seek to be led. As one young professional said, “if my boss understands how I am wired to work, I will not only teach the organization’s old guard how to lead my generation, but my performance will help contribute to the organization’s success. I will make them more relevant.” This confident perspective changed the conversation and helped to define the following top five ways young professionals want to be led by their baby boomer bosses.
1. Empower us; don’t micromanage our talent
Without question, young professionals want their space and an opportunity to express their voice without limitation. As much as the boss may want their young colleagues to do it her way, she must step aside. As one participant mentioned, “baby boomer bosses must allow us to find our purpose within the job and the freedom to discover the opportunities for them.”
When young professionals are empowered, they are deeply responsible for the authority given to them. Because young professionals are socially conscious and responsible, they won’t abuse the power that has been granted upon them. To the contrary, they will pour their strong work-ethic and their loyalty into their boss and the organization will become abundant.
2. Sponsor us; serve as role models
Young professionals seek mentorship and are like sponges when it comes to learning short-cuts. They want to get to the result as quickly as possible. As such, they want their baby boomer bosses to share their wisdom in the form of storytelling, not corporate speak.
Young professionals are most comfortable when they can relate to concepts, strategies and ideas on their own. They need time to process and once they reach the comfort level they seek – they have laser-beam focus and are extremely productive. They want a boss that “has their back,” not on their back.
Supervise, but let your young professionals improvise. Allow them to ask questions. Make them feel as equally as important and valuable. Don’t speak at them, communicate with them. Remember, the more you invade their space, young professionals begin to naturally detach. This makes reconnecting more difficult as they begin to lose trust. Young professionals are curious and naturally skeptical. Provide guidance and specific examples they can use to perform better. You must allow them to control the pace of their comfort level and responsibilities. Lead them through observation. Play to their strengths.