Clar­ity of role, ca­reer growth path helps at­tract mil­len­ni­als

The Times of India (New Delhi edition) - - Times Nation - By Su­jaya Ban­er­jee

In­dian mil­len­ni­als must be­come the fo­cal point of any hu­man cap­i­tal trend or dis­cus­sion in the coun­try, given they are poised to be 70% of In­dia’s work­ing age pop­u­la­tion by 2026.

Mil­len­ni­als or Gen Y is the co­hort born be­tween 1980 and 2000, who grew up with ac­cess to smart­phones, the in­ter­net and all other tech­nolo­gies avail­able — the gen­er­a­tion born im­me­di­ately af­ter Gen X (1965-1979).

The mil­len­nial pop­u­la­tion in In­dia is 426 mil­lion, com­pared to Amer­i­can mil­len­ni­als at 70 mil­lion and Chi­nese mil­len­ni­als at 218 mil­lion.

In­dian mil­len­ni­als are in­flu­enced by the rapid adop­tion of tech­nol­ogy they have wit­nessed, they are chil­dren of abun­dance as com­pared to their par­ents, and are mostly up­beat, com­pet­i­tive, am­bi­tious and want re­sults in­stantly.

Many of their world views are con­trary to those of pre­vi­ous gen­er­a­tions, espe­cially in the con­text of ‘power dis­tances’ (high lev­els of in­equal­ity of power and wealth ac­cepted as a cul­tural norm) and com­mu­ni­ca­tion (it is lim­ited and guarded be­tween those who have power and wealth and those who don’t). Both these macro-so­ci­etal norms con­tinue to find their way into the work­place in the form of power dis­tances and com­mand & con­trol lead­er­ship styles, fur­ther ac­cen­tu­ated by the hi­er­ar­chy — an in­dus­trial era con­struct still reign­ing supreme in the knowl­edge era.

Com­mu­ni­ca­tion flow is top­down, pre­sum­ing the top or se­nior lead­er­ship have all the in­for­ma­tion, ex­pe­ri­ence and an­swers to make strate­gic de­ci­sions — of­ten a fal­la­cious as­sump­tion given the dis­rup­tions across in­dus­tries in un­prece­dented VUCA times. ( VUCA stands for volatil­ity, un­cer­tainty, com­plex­ity and am­bi­gu­ity.)

With the ad­vent of the knowl­edge era, which has con­sid­er­ably democra­tised in­for­ma­tion/knowl­edge, the ‘sea­soned judg­ment’ ex­pected from lead­ers will now need to be re-ex­am­ined, as past gen­er­a­tions grap­ple with un­prece­dented prob­lems in a non-lin­ear world.

With four gen­er­a­tions at work (Baby boomers, Gen X, Gen Y and with Gen Z beginning to come in as in­terns), we are look­ing at an in­ter­est­ing melange of world views, which can eas­ily chal­lenge col­lab­o­ra­tion, en­gage­ment, re­ten­tion and con­tri­bu­tions in the fu­ture. The hi­er­ar­chy with its think/do di­vide still adorns most or­gan­i­sa­tions, suits the Boomers and Gen X who have waited for their turn to com­mand and lead. But these styles can se­verely ham­per com­mu­ni­ca­tion flow, ac­count­abil­ity, own­er­ship and agility — all so cru­cial in VUCA times.

Fur­ther, the pre­mium on obe­di­ence, re­wards for fol­low­ing in­struc­tions, and cul­tures of ap­pease­ment & con­sen­sus un­der the pre­text of speed have left sev­eral mil­len­ni­als be­wil­dered as to how to nav­i­gate the po­lit­i­cal webs within or­gan­i­sa­tions be­fore be­ing heard.

One re­cent re­search in­cluded 100 fo­cus group dis­cus­sions with In­dian mil­len­ni­als with ex­pe­ri­ence of 2-3 years across in­dus­tries. And here are two things they shared: In­dian mil­len­ni­als see their bosses as scared/in­se­cure, some­times para­noid about mak­ing mis­takes, risk-averse and scared of speak­ing up — this makes work­ing in the busi­ness world less at­trac­tive and grow­ing into lead­er­ship roles less as­pi­ra­tional. Se­cond, most of them picked the im­age of At­las car­ry­ing the weight of the world to de­scribe their stressed and over­bur­dened Gen X bosses.

In­ter­est­ingly, Gen X is the most re­silient gen­er­a­tion any­where in the world, hav­ing wit­nessed the great­est num­ber of tran­si­tions through their life­times, espe­cially with the ad­vent of tech­nol­ogy and con­nec­tiv­ity.

For those in­ter­ested in cre­at­ing mil­len­nial-friendly work­places and pre­par­ing to in­te­grate this im­por­tant co­hort, here’s what they mostly seek from an em­ployer:

* Role-based or­gan­i­sa­tions and des­ig­na­tions.

* A pos­i­tive work cul­ture. * Men­tor­ing by ex­pe­ri­enced se­nior lead­ers.

* Gen Y/mil­len­ni­als are of­ten cham­pi­ons for busi­ness with a pur­pose.

* Work-life bal­ance un­til they merge to find their ‘Iki­gai’: That’s the Ja­panese con­cept of a ‘rea­son for be­ing’.

* Reg­u­lar feed­back on per­for­mance.

* Equal­ity and re­spect for the no-power-dis­tance gen­er­a­tion.

Thewri­ter­is­founder &CEOofCap­stonePeo­ple

Con­sult­ing

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