Are you willing to let Millennials transform your organization?

Millennials are worldly and interconnected. They strive to bond together in order to make this a better place. All they need are what we all need in a great leader: involve me, coach me, and invest in our success. Together, we will succeed; just let me drive with you. ~Glen Sollors

“Cubicles with walls so high you can’t see over to the other side. I can’t imagine working like that.” That’s a statement I overheard in a conversation among a small group of Millennials last week. I couldn’t help but smile. Especially since this same organization only a few years ago had cubicles just as she described. Today, they’ve been lowered to about 4’ and the plan is to eliminate them all together.

Desks huddled in small pods or long rows with employees working elbow-to-elbow is a common scene these days when I wander through organizations. The primary reason for this change in work environment is not to reduce space, but to increase collaboration and interaction. This is something that is not only driving innovation, but is expected by Millennials, just as my eavesdropping confirmed.

Shortly after overhearing that conversation, I attended a portion of this same organization’s quarterly town hall meeting. I heard their leader talk about making environmental changes to better adapt to the way Millennials work. He also talked about how it is critical that the organization become even more purpose-driven. Note, he didn’t say mission-driven, he said purpose-driven, and there’s a difference.

Every month there’s an article in some major publication about working with and leading Millennials. These four key points, suggested in an article on by Jeff Haden, mirror what I experienced last week.

Personal Development. Millennials need to know they are making progress. That doesn’t necessarily mean in title, but in skill development and responsibility. Which is why they crave training opportunities more than previous generations. Training is a way for them to accelerate their development.

Connection. Millennials are hyper-connected. They want to develop friendships with their fellow employees, and if that happens, they’ll be much more engaged and stay longer. Hence, the elbow-to-elbow work environments.

Purpose. They want to know that what they are doing is making a difference. I recently heard a definition of purpose that I think expresses what they are after. That definition is simply “social value.” Here’s how a Millennial described it to me last week. He told me that while Google’s desire to create a driverless car will make them more money, what Google’s employees are motivated by is the fact that someone who is blind, for the first time, will have a means of independent transportation—social value.

Coaching. Millennials will respond to a leadership style that is coach-centric, not authoritative or command and control. Coaching means empowering Millennials and helping them to build their confidence. Ask for their input (on important issues as well as routine processes) and support them whenever and however you can.

Are you allowing Millennials to transform your organization?