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Leading Millennials in a project context by Mr Charbel Azar


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Mr. Charbel Azar was the speaker for the month of April in PMI Lebanon Chapter where he discussed "Leading Millennials in a project context"
Among the talking points:
- The different generations at the workplace today and characteristics of each
- What makes the Millennials so special to lead and manage?
- How to adapt your managerial and leadership style to suit Millennials.

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Leading Millennials in a project context by Mr Charbel Azar

  1. 1. Charbel E. Azar Leading Millennials in a Project Context
  2. 2. Quick Agenda ‣ Overview of the different generations at the workplace ‣ Generic Characteristics of each ‣ Particulars of Millennials & impact at the workplace ‣ How to manage the following in a project that has millennials: ‣ Recruitment ‣ Meetings and communication ‣ Coaching and mentoring ‣ Training ‣ Performance reviews
  3. 3. Quick Disclaimer ‣ Based on personal experience ‣ Backed by some US-based data ‣ More research needed, especially cultural and situational ‣ Where I generalize, forgive me and let it go! ‣ We can debate!
  4. 4. Business Today… ‣ Lives in a world created by generations who are (mostly, 95%) no longer working. ‣ They were influenced by the military and created a workplace reflecting a hierarchy with a clear chain of command. ‣ Employees worked hard to receive raises, bonuses and higher ranks. ‣ Higher rank (with the higher salary) was valued and envied by employees on their way up and held in high esteem by those at the top. ‣ Yet, here comes the influx of the new Generations…..
  5. 5. Generational Constants at the Workplace ‣ Constant #1: Existing generations are always surprised by the Incoming generation. They think they will be an “extension” of themselves—which they are not. ‣ Constant #2: Existing generations view the incoming generation negatively. They never live up to expectations. ‣ Constant #3: The incoming generation brings lost traits to the workplace—they fill a void that doesn’t exist.
  6. 6. Generational Challenges We Could Face in the Workplace ‣ Poor communication ‣ Decreased productivity, quality, & innovation ‣ Misunderstood attitudes, relationships & working environments ‣ Less engaged volunteers & coworkers ‣ Lack of motivation, initiative, and team work Especially with the challenges of: ‣ Constant innovation ‣ Blurred lines between departments / Cross functional teams ‣ Agility
  7. 7. The Generations at Work Today
  8. 8. Generations ‣ Silent: Born 1928-1945 (Age 73-90) ‣ Boomer: Born 1946-1964 (Age 54-72) ‣ Gen X: Born 1965-1981 (Age 38-53) ‣ Gen Y/Millennials: Born 1982-1995 (Age 23-36) ‣ Gen Z/Digital Natives: Born 1996-2010 (Age 8-22) ‣ Generation Alpha: Born after 2010
  9. 9. Quick activity ‣ Present Yourself ‣ Which generation do you fit it? ‣ Group yourselves by generation ‣ Discuss with your group: ‣ What do you associate yourself with? ‣ What was ‘hot’ when you were in high school? (things like: Clothing style, Movie, TV show, Singer or band, Price of gasoline, Popular hair style, Restaurant, Headlines of the day, Brand names? ‣ What do you bring to the workplace? ‣ What does the other generation bring to the workplace? ‣ What characteristics do you like about your assigned generation? ‣ What drives you crazy about your assigned generation? ‣ What drives you crazy about the other generations?  ‣ To Boomers and X’ers: what's the first word that comes to mind?
  10. 10. Generations Quiz
  11. 11. Matures/Silents/Traditionalists ‣ Born 1925 to 1945 ‣ Grew up with many rules and pressure to conform ‣ Increased prosperity over their lifetime; however, they remember the Depression ‣ “Work First!”, Disciplined, hardworking ‣ Children should be seen and not heard ‣ Expected lifetime career with one employer ‣ Prefer communication in writing ‣ Desire to leave a lasting legacy ‣ Value the past ‣ Respectful of order/authority ‣ Want to mentor ‣ Seek fulfillment through career
  12. 12. Worldwide Events & Experiences that Shaped Them ‣ Great Depression ‣ World War II ‣ Attack on Pearl Harbor ‣ Hiroshima and Nagasaki ‣ Radio ‣ Telephone ‣ First cars ‣ French Mandate and Independence
  13. 13. Traditionalists in the Workplace ‣ Polite ‣ Respectful ‣ Reserved ‣ Obedient ‣ Conformers Because of this, this group is least likely to : ‣ Speak their minds ‣ Question instructions ‣ Abuse privileges ‣ Make a scene in public
  14. 14. Baby Boomers ‣ Born 1946 to 1964 ‣ Grew up with fewer rules and a more nurturing environment ‣ Lived in generally prosperous times, but experienced layoffs ‣ Women entered workforce in record numbers ‣ “Live to Work!” ‣ Spend “quality time” with children ‣ Excelling in their career is important ‣ Prefer telephone or face-to-face communication ‣ Desire challenge and opportunity
  15. 15. Events & Experiences that Shaped Them ‣ Civil rights, Feminism, Hippies ‣ Vietnam ‣ Cold war ‣ Space travel, walking on the moon ‣ Assassinations ‣ Scientific advances ‣ Credit cards, increased spending ‣ Television, Advertising ‣ Lebanon’s Golden years
  16. 16. Boomers in the Workplace ‣ Uncomfortable with conflict, teamplayers, optimistic ‣ Consensus building leadership style ‣ Formal, Follow protocol ‣ Social ‣ Politically sensitive ‣ Idealistic ‣ Career that gives identity Because of this: ‣ They tend to build processes and procedures around everything. ‣ They avoid giving people bad news or find a way to make bad news seem not so bad (at least to them)
  17. 17. Generation X or X’ers ‣ Born 1965 to 1981 ‣ Grew up as latchkey or day care children ‣ Turbulent economic times ‣ Expect their career to keep moving forward or they will leave ‣ Prefer electronic communications ‣ Change from job security to career security ‣ Friends with their child, want to spend quantity time
  18. 18. Generation X ‣ Pragmatic/Informal ‣ Confident, with technology as well ‣ Like flexibility ‣ Independent ‣ Have a life away from work ‣ Recognition for ambition ‣ Ability to get ahead (degree/certification) ‣ Fast-paced ‣ Value personal time, less overtime and weekend ‣ Challenge the status quo, reject formality, Want to do things their way ‣ Loyal to staff leader
  19. 19. Events & Experiences that Shaped Them ‣ Fall of the Berlin Wall, end of Cold War ‣ Challenger disaster ‣ Desert Storm ‣ Personal computers, computer literate ‣ Working mothers ‣ MTV ‣ Divorce ‣ Energy crisis ‣ Lebanese Civil War, Syrian Occupation
  20. 20. Millennials / Generation Y ‣ Born 1982 to 1995 ‣ Attended day care, very involved “helicopter” parents ‣ Prosperity has increased over their lifetime ‣ “Live, then Work!” ‣ Achievement oriented ‣ Prefer instant or text messaging ‣ Want to build parallel careers – experts in multitasking
  21. 21. Events & Experiences that Shaped Them ‣ Child-focused world, everyone is a winner ‣ 9/11, Iraq, Terrorism ‣ Internet ‣ Social networking ‣ Continual feedback (Online grades at school) ‣ Enron/WorldCom ‣ Arab Spring ‣ Lebanese political helplessness, return of warlords
  22. 22. Millennials / Generation Y ‣ Confident/Avoid conflict ‣ Need lots of supervision early ‣ Ask why?/Seem disrespectful ‣ Freedom (sign of trust) ‣ Idealistic ‣ Opportunities beyond first position ‣ Fun/Friendly!
  23. 23. Millennials Core Traits
  24. 24. Things boomers & Gen X’ers say about Millennials ‣ Kids these days! ‣ Cant do anything right ‣ They tend to reject advice of gray-haired! ‣ Threats to traditional ways of doing things. ‣ Poor communicators, lack of proactivity, cannot handle feedback, impatient, unable to commit ‣ If you correct them, they quit! ‣ They do not care about customers ‣ They want a trophy just for showing up ‣ They assume its ok to call me by my first name….they think we are buddies, while I am the boss! ‣ Anything extra nice I do, they act as if I owe it to them.
  25. 25. …and Vice versa ‣ Older generations have stronger work ethics, higher values, and greater respect for others. ‣ We get bored more easily and wont commit on staying in one org for too long. ‣ More entrepreneurial spirit (27 vs 35) ‣ Time, productivity, & office hours not related. Better work/life balance ‣ They don’t understand us, don’t provide enough feedback, don’t take full advantage of our skills ‣ We are not defined by our job ‣ We want to have a say about how and when we work ‣ We don’t want to be friends, but when you evaluate us, we want it to be in a friendly way, like our parents used to do. ‣ We want you to give us direction and then get out of the way.
  26. 26. Millennial Core Traits ‣ Special/Entitled: self-esteem programming, angel-child movies, helicopter parents/pampering teachers, medals for everyone who shows up, teachers fired, social media, most wanted generation ‣ Sheltered: baby-on-board, programmed, enclosed, monitored, bike helmets/seat belts, Purell, webcams, ‣ Confident: motivated, goal oriented, and assertive, all due to their optimism and trust. They have strong connection with their parents. In Canada: “Sunshine Generation” ‣ Team-Oriented/Collaborative: positive peer pressure, value orderliness, uncomfortable with class divide, increasingly interconnected, tolerant and accepting (sexuality, minorities), CSR oriented.
  27. 27. Millennial Core Traits ‣ Pressured/Driven—increasing demands from technology, schools, personal and parental ambitions, timed activities & less free play, higher stakes (i.e. grades, major) ‣ Achieving —higher grades and lower crime rates, extracurricular is growing, specializations (i.e. sports, music), structured activities, results oriented, ‣ Family-oriented (work/life balance): After watching their workaholic parents sacrifice too much for work, Millennials are determined to balance their responsibilities. ‣ Tech-dependent ‣ Instant Gratification
  28. 28. Technology Addiction
  29. 29. Technology addiction ‣ Millennials think they are good at “multitasking” because of technology & gaming. ‣ However, science speaks of “mental juggling”, forcing the brain back and forth & to rest after each task, which in turn, makes us slower. And according to studies, make us lose 40% of our productive time. ‣ More mistakes, less focus, less retention. ‣ They are not better at multitasking, they are better at getting distracted  ‣ Thus the surge in ADHD. Misdiagnosis. ‣ Dopamine release with every text, like, comment, & share. However it is very short term and reinforces addiction.
  30. 30. Instant Gratification ‣ Impatience to succeed. No waiting. ‣ They want to change the world, to work where they experience a sense of purpose. However the timing required is the issue. ‣ They juggle among different causes. With no real focus. ‣ Impatience. Gets them unhappy at work and want to leave, while older generations stayed for ages. ‣ Leads to having no time to build and nurture relationships. ‣ Want options and choices
  31. 31. Millennials at the Workplace ‣ Millennials, like Boomers, want to make a difference. ‣ They process data differently ‣ Linear and Analog vs Digital. Mind Maps ‣ Videotape vs DVD, twitch speed: want to make things happen ‣ Quickened Globalization, more exposure, more tolerance, even seek it ‣ Causes-driven, Teamwork-Oriented
  32. 32. Dealing with Millennials in a Project
  33. 33. Generation Y or Why?! (Kicking off the project and Assigning Tasks) ‣ Curiosity made the millennial: they need to know the reason for doing a task before they do it. ‣ They also want to know the contribution they are making. Why should they invest their time in this task and how does it fit into the bigger picture? ‣ As the generation of immediate gains, they prefer to understand the value of doing something upfront. Provide them flexibility with writing their JD. ‣ Provide context—for the project and the part they play in the overall effort. If Millennials feel the task is important, they feel important. ‣ Show them how each task relates to the big picture. ‣ Let the charter help you and guide you!
  34. 34. On Team Dynamics & Rewarding (Manage Project Team) ‣ Millennials prefer to work in teams! ‣ You don’t ask, you don’t get: they are more confident when it comes to challenging the system. ‣ They are less afraid to ask questions, make comparisons or question ‘the norm’ of things. ‣ If they’re thinking something, they’re most likely to express it. ‣ So during conflict, let them voice out. Best approach is collaborative. ‣ On rewarding: Ask what they value…most probably it is time off, and the opportunity to do social work outside office. (fitness trainer, parking spot) ‣ On rewarding: money is not always everything
  35. 35. On Performance Evaluations (Control Resources) ‣ Millennials require more frequent feedback – the positive ones especially. ‣ Not so good at receiving negative ones. ‣ Provide immediate feedback— praise and criticism. If it’s not your style to provide feedback in the moment, set up weekly check-in meetings to review their performance and provide ongoing direction. ‣ Give honest recognition. Acknowledge positive behaviors and achieved results. Also, consider using peer 360 feedback for a more complete picture. ‣ Teach how to give and receive feedback ‣ Smaller coaching teams ‣ Be a coach first, manager second: Mentor them constantly. They might not ask for it. ‣ Give them the opportunity to fail and learn ‣ Focus on intrapreneurship initiatives and trainings.
  36. 36. On Training (Develop Team) ‣ First them, then you. Be interested in them, be curious, grow them. ‣ Always invest in training: leadership, communication skills, active listening. ‣ Benefit from their social media skills, translated into branding! ‣ Millennials more willing to speak out when feeling uninspired, disengaged, and dissatisfied. ‣ Older generations not necessarily better at being engaged….but better at faking it! ‣ Reverse coaching
  37. 37. On Tasks & Time Management (Control Resources) ‣ Offer flexible schedules ‣ Give short deadlines and clear outcomes ‣ Tie project rationale to their future success. When reviewing a task or requirement, explain what’s in it for them, and how it will help their advancement. Connecting the dots will help Millennials get through the drudgery of the menial tasks that are part of every job. ‣ Loosen the tether: More than any other generation, millennials are likely to cope with stress using strategies outside of the office. Build in some latitude for them to do just that and don’t assume their absence is a productivity killer. Allow more of a fluid, revolving door between work and play. What may look like procrastination to you might actually be high-value time that refreshes their energy levels, enabling them to attack their work with gusto. ‣ Be specific—about project steps, check-in points, and final work product requirements. Remember that Millennials will need more ongoing direction and have less work experience (fewer part-time and summer jobs, and slower starts to their careers due to a tough economy). ‣ Give them as much ownership as possible. It isn’t always possible to hand off an entire project, but they will be more invested in their work if you can at least give them a part that they can call their own.
  38. 38. Millennials are Job Hoppers! (On Staff Retention) ‣ On average, millennials stay within a given role for a maximum of three years. With the degree of networking, peer-to-peer comparison and online job search possibilities that are available today it’s not surprising to understand how quickly millennials become hungry for the next challenge. ‣ To retain them: ‣ Treat them like VIPs ‣ Give them challenging and interesting work ‣ Offer Structure ‣ Teach them the basics ‣ Make them part of a group ‣ Involve them in community work ‣ Look after them ‣ Involve parents 
  39. 39. On Your Own Leadership Style (Managing Team) ‣ Lead by example. ‣ Talk about your failures: helps them understand reality, and helps building a trusting culture. ‣ Provide more opportunities for human interactions. Less emails, more face to face meetings, more calls. MBWA. Observation and conversation with the team members ‣ Implement recognition programs ‣ Learn from them ‣ Build trust ‣ Show respect ‣ Manage them as individuals
  40. 40. On Communication ‣ Access to superiors: Millennials want to know the top boss, and be able to collaborate with that person. Flat structures. ‣ Set expectations—about job requirements, employee whereabouts, your availability and preferences for communicating with Millennials. ‣ Don’t: ‣ Interpret their expressing opinions as a lack of respect ‣ Discount ideas because of lack of experience ‣ Allow negativity ‣ Be harsh or say you are disappointed in them ‣ Feel threatened by their technical knowledge
  41. 41. On Communication ‣ Selective perception ‣ Keep them informed at all times, repeat. Don’t assume they heard you the first time. ‣ Follow the medium they seem most comfortable with What managers say What Millennials hear If you take the transfer, it is the right step towards promotion If you take the transfer, you will be promoted If you get up to 100 case files, we will revisit you becoming a junior partner If you get near 100 cases, you will make junior partner If you do good work, turn in all your assignments, & attend class regularly, you should get an A If you turn in all your assignments and attend class, you will get an A If you finish task X, we will talk about you getting off work early When you finish task X, you can leave
  42. 42. On Meetings Management (Manage Communications) ‣ Run meetings free from cell phones. This will help build more personal relationships. ‣ Free from cell phones = even before the meeting starts! ‣ Encourage note taking, on paper not on laptops. This will help in better focus, decision making, and critical thinking. ‣ Entice their creativity & introduce new challenges: they get bored easily ‣ If you do not seriously consider their input and follow it up, then don’t ask for it.
  43. 43. Some other perks ‣ Social Activities: Ice cream socials or Friday night happy hours are things employers can set up to make Millennials feel connected to their co-workers. ‣ Free Lunch: An increasing number of Millennial-oriented workplaces are offering lunch on the company. ‣ Subsidized Fitness Programs: Millennials want their employer to be involved in their work-life balance, which includes helping them foot the gym bill. ‣ Flexible Schedules: Flexibility is so important to Millennials that studies show some would take it over a raise or promotion
  44. 44. Advice for Millennials ‣ Find solutions for your problems. Reach out to people. Less emails, more calls and more face to face. ‣ Ask for criticism – the lessons learned approach. ‣ Beat the phone addiction: in the office, at home charging, by bed at night, get a standard alarm clock!
  45. 45. Conclusions
  46. 46. Bridging the Generation Gaps Remember the Golden Rule? “Treat others as you would like to be treated.” Change it to the Platinum Rule “Treat others as they would like to be treated”
  47. 47. Action Plan, take-aways ‣ What changes will you make (if any) based upon what you have learned today? - Relationships - Work environment - Rules
  48. 48. THANK YOU