How to Attract and Retain a Millennial Workforce (Great Plains EmPower ND Energy Conference)
(This is a modified transcript from remarks I made serving on the “Workforce Challenges in the Energy Industry” panel at Great Plains EmPower Energy conference, which was held at the National Energy Center of Excellence in Bismarck, ND. The panel was facilitated by ND Commerce Commission, Michelle Kommer. Kathy Neset, founder of Neset Consulting Service, whom also serves as the chair of the North Dakota Petroleum Council, as well as servicing on the ND Board of Higher Education and Minneapolis Federal Reserve Board.)
When crowdsourcing some of the key frustrations they have with Millennials, here’s what I hear:
- How do I attract them?
- Once I hire them, how do I retain them and keep them engaged?
- What might I need to do differently to motivate and manage them?
These questions become even more pressing in industries that aren’t as “sexy” to be with. In other words, they aren’t as cool and trendy as other up-and-coming industries, such as those working with drones, robots, AI….or CBD oil 🙂 Energy and “powering the nation” doesn’t always fit into the coolest trend – even though we know it’s vital to our nation’s flourishing, as well national security.
So, how do we attract the best talent? How do we retain, motivate and manage the best in the industries that we’re in?
For us, as leaders, it’s important to be aware of these three numbers…
See their Leadership Potential
91 percent of Millennials aspire to leadership.
They are not looking for a job; they are looking for development opportunities to grow their leadership capacity.
Millennials see themselves in leadership roles at some point in their life and in some area in their life, either professionally or personally.
What does that mean for us as leaders?
- Spotlight their strengths: We get to see natural gifts and talents they’re bringing to the table. Then we get to ask how we can work with them to develop their strengths into professional and personal assets.
- Dialogue about leadership mindset: Millennials are hungry to discuss real, rubber-meets-the-road leadership topics such as ethics, leading with character, and the importance of collaborating.
See their leadership potential. When we get clarity about their desire to strengthen their leadership acumen – and discuss this during the interview and at work, they start to see value for themselves and their career path. By understanding the millennial mindset, we can attract and retain top-tier talent.
Hear their Cry for Mentors and Leaders
79 percent of Millennials want a coach or a mentor.
They aren’t looking for a boss; they are looking for a coach or mentor.
When I asked my two-year-old grandson – who actually informed me that he’s 2 and ¾ – what he wanted to be when he grows up, he said, “I want to be a teacher that has big, huge, stretchy ears.” I thought – That’s what we need when we are looking to attract and retain best talent – we need big, huge ears and listen to what the up-and-coming leaders want to do in their careers.
What do we, as leaders, need to do?
- Energize their dreams: Don’t dictate and direct. Listen to what motivates them, what their dreams are. Focus on helping them develop into character-based leaders.
- Translate today’s work: Work with them to see how the skills needed to accomplish their future dreams, can be learned and honed in their current role and responsibilities.
I picked up one of my favorite lifetime quotes the first time I heard Zig Ziglar speak in 1982…
“You can get everything you want in life by helping others get what they want.”
Hear their cry for mentoring and coaching. Help your emerging leader get the skills, tools, and resources to advance their career. In so doing, you’ll attract the brightest talent….and keep them for the long haul.
Row in the Same Direction
88 percent of Millennials want to live in a collaborative culture.
Millennials don’t want a competitive culture. They want to work as a team where we are all on the same boat, rowing in the same direction.
So, what does this require of us, as leaders?
- Provide purpose: Be clear about the company’s vision, mission, and values.
- Honor their Serving Heart: Talk often about the good that you’re bringing to the world, and how you’re serving the community.
They need to know that there is purpose in what you’re doing and what they’re doing. It has to be about more than profit. They want to know that we are all rowing towards a better future.
These three numbers provide a glimpse into the Millennial Mindset. In adjusting our own views, we will be building a culture that attracts and retains best-in-class millennial talent.
- 91 percent aspire to leadership,
- 79 percent want a coach or mentor, and,
- 88 percent need a collaborative environment.
Baby Boomer Leadership Challenge
I often hear, “Danita, everybody wants this type of culture. This is nothing new.”
- Yes…and….those of us who are “more experienced” would stick around for the paycheck, even if we did not have the culture we wanted and management messed up.
- Millennials aren’t that patient. If they don’t have this culture, they’re walking to your competition. They’re pursuing another opportunity. And, you lose top tier talent.
Your Leadership Matters
This is an opportunity for us as leaders to step up to the plate and be strategic in building a culture where all employees thrive – from Baby Boomers, to Gen X, to Millennials, to Gen Z.
You matter. Our leadership matters.