By Vanessa Judelman
What was it like when you started working? Did you use a fax machine? Did you rely on couriers to get information across town? We all know those days are long gone. The arrival of rapid digital technology has fundamentally changed the way we work. It has also changed the expectations and expertise of millennials, aka “digital natives”, who are now entering the workforce.
Do you have younger planners on your team? Do you find their approach to getting things done is different? I have heard some digital immigrants, not born into the digital world, (aka Boomers/GenXers say) say that digital natives are lazy, entitled and unfocused. My experience leads me to a different conclusion. So, this summer, I made a documentary film to explore this issue. I discovered that digital natives are far from lazy. Not only are they tech savvy and hard working but they are incredibly innovative, collaborative and excellent at solving problems.
Although many digital immigrants struggle to manage digital natives, this can easily be changed. The key is to understand how to best leverage the skills and talents of the younger planners on your team.
Here are my top four tips to engage digital natives at work:
- Loosen up: Focus on results and outcomes not when or how the work gets done. Be open to them getting the job done in their way. It will likely be faster and maybe even better than the way you’ve always completed the task. Be flexible when it comes to working hours and provide the opportunity for them to work from home.
- Tell them the “why”: Tell them “why” they are doing a certain task and how this task impacts the bigger picture. Engage them in the decision making process so they feel ownership over the process and task.
- Provide opportunities for growth: Be creative in finding opportunities to develop them within your company. Determine what they love to do and provide opportunities for them to develop in that area.
- Give frequent feedback: Providing feedback once a year or every few months is not enough. Give them feedback as soon as they have achieved a milestone that is significant.
Not changing your business practices because “we’ve always done it this way” is no longer a viable conclusion. We all need to be leveraging technology, embracing our differences and really listening to each other. This is how your business will continue to thrive in the new world of work.
About the author
Vanessa Judelman is the President of Mosaic People Development, a company that helps develop great leaders and build collaborative teams. She is a keynote speaker, facilitator and certified coach. Her film Beyond The Digital Divide can be viewed on her website www.MosaicPD.com.