I’m a planner. A list maker. An over-analyzer. Perhaps its because I’m the oldest of 3, or “achiever” is in my top 5 strengths, or that I’m a “high D”. Whatever the reason, it is who I am, and how I naturally want to lead others. I instinctively build a plan of action, create a list of what needs to be done, over-analyze that plan and list until it is finely tuned, and then pass “the plan” out to the team. The more time I spend leading and working with millenials, the more I have had to adjust my approach. The plan I build and hand out is my plan and millenials only want to move forward when it is their plan. Experience has taught me, that they (and the organization) are most effective and engaged when it is our plan. Here’s how to build it, so that they will come along.
1. Frame It – create a framework of the necessary steps that need to be taken. Write down the key tenants of what a successful plan will need to include without getting too specific. Then pick 2 or 3 team members and share your initial thoughts with them informally. Ask for their feedback, and if you’re on the right track. You’ll get some great insights to how the rest of the team might respond, and you will gain a few proponents of the plan, because you engaged them in the process. You might even get better ideas than what you first put forth.
2. Cast It – bring the whole team together, present the problem or task you’re facing, and share the now improved framework. Cast the vision, but don’t share the strategy or tactics. Sit back and ask questions about what they think, how they would proceed, what resources the team can leverage to achieve success, etc. Let them fill in the gaps. As ideas are presented that aren’t feasible or are guaranteed to fail, gently steer the conversation onto the right track. Use guided discovery to help the team arrive at the same general plan that you would have built and presented.
3. Give It – once the whole team has consensus on the plan, give it away. Make it their plan completely. Assign a couple of members to conduct a weekly checkpoint to make sure things are progressing. Create owners of individual elements around the plan and empower them to execute the associated actions. Make your role to check in with each team member on a daily basis to ask just two questions, “how do you think things are going?” and “what adjustments should we make?” Lead by stimulating their creative and analytical though processes.
Early engagement in planning and decision making is one of the things millenials need to feel valued and bought in to the direction of their organization. The days of top down management that dictates a course of action are no longer here. We must be willing to adapt to the people we have and develop them into the future leaders of our organizations. If we continue to build it for them, they will not come along with us. Instead, they will happily pack up and move on to another organization.