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For years, there has been a lot of discussion and debate about millennials. Although, the oldest millennial today has been a part of the workforce for over 15 years, conversations on how to manage, lead and empower them still continue to percolate. There are certain perceptions that continue to prevail about this generation – lazy, entitled, overconfident – yet they remain a force to be reckoned with.
As organizational hierarchies flatten, baby boomers and Gen Xers retire, and organizations seek to build robust leadership pipelines across the organization, it is pertinent for them to develop the millennial cohort of their workforce. The largest cohort of the present workforce feels ready and gearing to take on additional responsibilities, even leadership roles as they seek to have a more active voice in driving change and adding value. Yet, research indicates that organizations are hesitant to handover the crucial decision-making power to the young aspirant leaders, leading to vehement dissatisfaction among millennials. A Deloitte survey revealed that 63 percent of millennials feel their organizations aren’t preparing them for the leadership roles.
The lack of confidence is a matter of great worry for organizations. The hesitation to handover leadership roles comes from a perception that millennials lack the experience that previous generations possessed when made leaders. With millennials making up over 65% of the global workforce, this lack of faith can cause massive stagnation in developing a robust leadership pipeline.
Where does the challenge lie?
The business landscape needs more leaders. But, with baby boomers retiring at an alarming rate, and a disproportionate ratio of Gen-Xers in the workforce to leaders needed, it is pertinent for millennials to be handed the mantle of leadership. However, since millennials are considered to not be old enough or not have enough experience, the business landscape finds itself in a Catch-22 situation; And, the transference of power from the well-equipped baby boomers and Gen Xers to the millennial workforce is not a seamless process.
Why? The dynamics of business have changed drastically over the years. Therefore, coaching a new generation of leaders while seasoned leaders themselves battle against the VUCA context bears little fruit.
Millennials bring with them the spirit to tackle challenges head on and the zeal to lead transformation. They are also willing to jump right in and get their hands dirty, just to prove themselves and create a positive impact. Therefore, they can be great assets to leaders and organizations, if given the chance.
What’s a sustainable solution to this problem?
Since the major problems seems to be a general consensus in the “lack of leadership experience” among millennials, why not adopt a new-age solution to accelerate learning and practice? In a previous blog, we highlighted the impact that simulation-based learning delivered for deep learning and accelerated leadership development. This learning methodology is especially effective in developing millennial leaders, who crave immersive, engaging experiences. Where methods like mentoring, coaching, buddy system (where one younger employee is paired with an older employee), traditional classroom engagements are time-consuming and show results only over extended periods, simulations present vast benefits that cater to the urgency of developing high potential millennial leaders.
#1 – Experience
Business simulations provide millennial learners immersive experiences in real-life like, safe learning environments. A typical leadership simulation, for example, puts young leaders in the shoes of a crucial authority, required to lead a team to exponential growth. In doing so, they are expected to cater to the needs of their virtual teams, inspire them, handle conflicts, and develop the team. Learners are expected to fulfil all the responsibilities placed on them in the real world, with only the intent of increasing experience and developing leadership capabilities. The experiential aspect of a business simulation is the key to helping millennials speed up their leadership development.
#2 – Digital
Millennials are digital citizens, constantly attached to technological devices and engaging on social media platforms. Information is readily available to them at their fingertips, and their need for immediacy may be too much of a disruption in developing them through traditional learning methodologies. Therefore, embracing a tool that can effectively build capability while accelerating their time to productivity, significantly increases the uptake on the learning necessary for them to take on leadership roles.
#3 – Ownership
Millennials like to take ownership and stay accountable for their work or decisions. They are hands-on in their approach to learning, work and life in general, as they seek “the full experience”. Business simulations present millennial learners with a virtual environment where their experience is hyper-personalized based on the actions that they take within the simulation environment. They are given the liberty to act as they see fit as well as the opportunity to observe the ramifications of their actions, without real world impact. In other words, they are given complete ownership of their learning experience, and business benefits from their
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#4 – Data
Millennials seek mentors who can help them accelerate their career growth. Yet, seeking out mentors in the real world to deliver on their expectations is not sustainable. The mentoring experience is only as effective as the mentor’s interest. Leadership simulations, however, provide millennials unbiased feedback, actionable insights and analytics on their potential, performance and progress in a timely manner. In other words, leadership simulations provide millennial learners with hyper-personalized mentoring experiences at their convenience.
#5 – Time
In the digital age, there is constant change. Therefore, leaders do not have the luxury to develop at their own pace. It is, after all, the survival of the fittest. Therefore, for the uber-competitive millennial leader, there is no other learning methodology that quite as effectively accelerates capabilities as a simulation. Not to mention, the anywhere-anytime learning capabilities of a technology-based simulation, which allows millennial leaders to learn at their convenience to accommodate the constraints of their work schedules. Time is, after all, of the essence in order to effectively take on a major responsibility or role.
Experiential business simulations are the path-breaking solution for organizations keen on developing their millennial leaders. The young aspirants are happy to adopt this new age methodology which helps them to get on their bandwagon of dreams early on and set sail as the leaders of tomorrow. An organization that employs business simulations to train and upskill its workforce can see the results of the training immediately. It is imperative for organizations to let go of their fear or concern about the lack of experience that millennials bring to the table, and there is no better tool to assuage these fears than a simulation. It is finally time for organizations to trust their millennial leaders with decision making power.
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