Donald Trump’s TV show “The Apprentice” is back for another season with a twist that revolves around professionals who have been affected by the economy. Each contestant has lost his or her job and is searching for a new one. When contestants win a project on the show, they receive the opportunity to learn from the best in leadership with a leader from one of the show’s corporate sponsors.
Apprenticeship is a system of training the next generation of workers. Traditionally, “prentices,” also called protégés, enhance their careers from apprenticeships with training conducted on the job by working for an employer who helps them learn a trade or skill.
To put the idea of apprenticeship into perspective for today, consider that the 78 million Millennials, also known as the Net Gen and Generation Y, are nearly as large a group as the baby boomers. This new generation includes those born between 1980 and 1991.
What Do Millennials Want
The book The Millennials by Dr. Thom Rainer and his son Jess Rainer, details certain factors based on a massive research project led by LifeWay Research, involving 12,000 Millennials. The study concluded four major leadership focuses for “What Millennials want in leaders”:
·Mentoring. Millennials want to be led and taught in the workplace. They want to learn from their “heroes.”
·Gentle spirit. They are turned off by loud and divisive leaders.
·Transparency. Millennials want to follow “real” or authentic leaders.
·Integrity. They want leaders with standards and who aren’t concerned more about their own personal gain than serving others.
Applying the Idea of Apprenticeship
Given these findings, organizations need to examine how their own leaders are leading and training managers, supervisors and team leaders to become relevant in the new workplace. Because Millennials want to learn from others, it makes sense to think in terms of apprenticeship in the workplace.
Today’s leaders must be able to operate in an informal learning environment that positions them as mentors and coaches. They need exceptional communication skills, and they should be trained by good leaders in order for others to follow.
Millennials have a “can-do” attitude about tasks and work habits. They look for feedback about how they are doing, and they expect it frequently. They look for structure from older supervisors and team leaders, and they want these leaders to elicit and respect their ideas, as well.
Leaders can help Millennials become more engaged by providing development opportunities; members of this generation want to know where their careers are going and how to move up. They expect to be challenged, and they look for continual challenges on projects and opportunities for networking.
In the absence of the above, Millennials — who are adept on instant messaging, e-mail, text and social media — will network themselves into new opportunities outside their current organizations.
Helping All Employees Learn From the Boss
Research reveals that most employees, Millennial or not, look for common things from work. First, respect is a fundamental right for all employees. An important element of respect is recognition and feedback so workers know how they are doing. They want to be members engaged in the organization. They also want to learn new skills, develop their potential and grow in their careers. They want to be empowered and have influence on decisions.
And, they want good leadership. They want to learn from the boss.
The following tips can help employees learn from your organization’s leaders:
·Listen to their ideas and opinions.
·Delegate challenging tasks that help them become a part of change.
·Encourage networking on projects and teams.
·Discover what really motivates them and elicit their ideas.
·Coach them on-the-job and give them exposure across the organization.
·Provide frequent and meaningful feedback.
As an example, the Conference Board, a global, independent business membership and research association working in the public interest, requires leaders to provide two written evaluations per year and strongly encourages managers to deliver informal feedback at least monthly. Researchers indicate that this type of frequent feedback helps Millennials become engaged in their jobs and improves employee retention.
Training Leaders to Adapt
Most organizations’ supervisors, managers and team leaders will likely need more training to adapt to an apprentice-style workplace. Look for programs such as Vital Learning’s Leadership Series™, which offers targeted, flexible programs that enable organizations to put leaders in action quickly. Vital Learning’s flexible programs are available in online and traditional seminar formats to allow organizations to blend learning quickly with their existing approaches.
Recommended titles include the following:
·Essential Skills of Communicating™
·Essential Skills of Leadership™
·Developing Performance Goals and Standards™
·Providing Performance Feedback™
·Coaching Job Skills™
Thought for the Day
“By providing Millennials with meaningful and growing experiences, respecting their contribution, utilizing mentoring, giving feedback and staying flexible, leaders can retain Millennials as followers who will develop into future leaders.”
— David Burkus, Millennial and adjunct professor of business at several universities, executive coach, and a student in the doctor of strategic leadership program at Regent University