Millennials’ use of technology and affinity with the digital world clearly sets them apart from the generations before them. They’ve grown up in a world crowded by broadband, smartphones, laptops and social media and they expect instant access to any information they require.
A report by PWC states that millennials have a distinct attitude towards rigid corporate structures and crave a varied and interesting career and a desire to move quickly upwards through an organisation. The report found that millennials feel constrained by what they see as outdated traditional working practices. Two thirds (65%) said they felt that rigid hierarchies failed to get the most out of younger recruits and 46% thought their managers did not always understand the way they use technology in their work.
Senior management and hierarchy cultures create an unfriendly environment for millennials - they don’t want to be stuck in a workspace cubicle all day. Instead they are attracted to businesses that offer an engaging and stimulating atmosphere that creativity can thrive in - a ‘millennial friendly’ environment, if you will.
In large corporate organisations it is commonplace for senior managers to have their own office and, possibly, their own administrative assistant. Senior staff are likely to spend more time working remotely as they visit clients, shareholders, suppliers and subsidiaries, both domestically and overseas.
This scenario naturally lends itself to creating a separation between senior employees, millennials and indeed the rest of the workforce. For junior members, in particular, a lack of transparency or access to more senior staff can make them feel less confident communicating with colleagues. Subsequently, they may refrain from sharing their ideas freely and, therefore, deprive the organisation of potentially unique ideas and knowledge.
This isn’t to suggest that you can’t build a collaborative culture within a mid-sized to large team structure, but it’s important to introduce new measures to increase interaction throughout an organisation. Investing in digital platforms, which create arenas for discussion and collaboration that aren’t bound by a company’s hierarchy, is an effective way to encourage interaction between different levels and increase employees visibility. Employees need to know they can provide feedback and suggest new processes to senior management in a way that will be heard and considered.
In order to break down the barriers between senior and more junior employees, and create meaningful collaboration, companies must ensure people know they are being listened to and that their input is valued.
Research from Harvard Business Review reveals that leadership participation is a crucial part of the collaboration process, particularly when using digital channels. The report found that senior employees know they should converse with employees via social and digital channels but often don’t. Whereas if they were to ‘get involved’ they’d be taking the first steps towards becoming a confident leader that extends their leadership deeply into digital channels.
Collaboration, like most things, is based on trust – something that is crucial for managers and senior leadership teams in this digital era.
People no longer want to work in silos. They make themselves valuable to companies by seeking out opportunities to work with others and tapping into their colleague’s knowledge. Digital platforms allow them to do this no matter where they’re located. Enterprise Chat & Messaging technology for instance allows employees (no matter what level) to quickly converse and share ideas without the need to arrange a meeting.
With the evolution of real-time global communication such as messaging & chat platforms, employees can now collaborate without the limitations imposed by a hierarchical structure and reach solutions at a faster rate than during previous more traditional days of working.
This collaborative approach is well suited to the millennial generation as they’re more susceptible to networking, whether that be socially or digitally, which means business leaders should look to ensure their organisation creates methods to encourage and garner this behaviour.
In today’s modern business environment, if organisational success is to be accelerated then creating an environment where networking, collaborating and idea sharing are all common place and encouraged. From forward-thinking strategic leaders to millennial workers who have grown up in the digital world, working collaboratively is now business standard.
By Justin Forrest, CEO, MindLink