Businesses talk a big game about appealing to young staffers, but they tend to fall down on the most basic of requirements: training them and helping them along in their careers.
Talk to junior staffers, and you’ll frequently hear them say the training they receive is often lackluster, as is the mentorship that many crave and deem essential for progressing in the business. They’re promised both formal and informal opportunities to learn and to develop their skills, but when the rubber hits the road it’s often not a priority for those higher up in their companies.
What’s more, it’s mentorship they value more than formalized training, and that’s often what’s lacking. It’s one thing to sit in a room and be “educated”; it’s another to have consistent feedback and dialogue.
“The biggest complaint I have is focused around mentorship,” one of our recent clients reported, for example. “A lot of managers are spread too thin to set aside proper time to make sure that juniors are learning the basics of their craft.”
Like any millennial story, this one has a paradox. The same group that claims to crave mentorship also reports chafing at being micromanaged. But no matter what, the millennial generation, by all accounts, is ambitious and eager to succeed. The question is whether businesses, which are at risk of a brain drain, are blowing it by not doing enough to nurture the talent they have.
More senior people seem to think that putting employees through a few HR-led classes and giving them an employee handbook qualifies as training. While this may teach new employees the Xs and Os, it isn’t addressing the friction senior leaders are having with Millennials. If you want to get the most out of Millennials — or anyone for that matter — you have to take a personal interest in their growth and development.
The simple fact of the matter is most businesses struggle to find the time and resources to provide the level of support Millennials seek, despite their best intentions. That might have more to do with the financial situations in which they now find themselves in than with the changing expectations of their employees. Businesses continue to see their margins reduced, which means training is often viewed as a cost, as opposed to an opportunity to extract more value from their younger employees.
That could be having a detrimental effect on their businesses if for no other reason than consistency. The quality of service is only as good as the people, and without good training, that provides a consistent foundation of knowledge, skills and the company’s particular methodologies, different clients will have different experiences, some good, many bad.
Whatever the reasons, financial, generational or even cultural, the disconnect continues. The business is tough, but Millennials are looking for more from their employers. It might be an added expense, but the best way for businesses to squeeze more value from their junior employees is, quite simply, just to spend more time guiding them.
Communicating to Manage Performance, Leading With Credibility, and Increasing Professional Presence are all programs that help managers and front-line employees improve the coaching and mentoring relationships in your workplace.
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