I recently had the pleasure of presenting to a group of young business people in the St. Cloud community who have formally come together to connect and grow. Some of Marco’s young professionals are involved in the group and hosted a well-attended event at our corporate headquarters. They asked me to share my tips for leadership and my journey from a young sales guy to CEO.
I welcome opportunities to connect with millennials because they will shape our future, and I know I can learn from them. Here is my advice for this emerging group: Take the time to better understand us baby boomers, as we still run most organizations.
I think the Gen Xers and the baby boomers have done a pretty good job understanding and accommodating the millennial generation. Here are a few ways millennials can become a quick study of their “older” counterparts who are making the decisions today:
- Watch the way they communicate.
What are the methods they prefer? You may find that baby boomers are more likely to pick up the phone or request a face-to-face meeting versus a digital conversation. Adjust your approach based on what their preferences are, and you likely will have more meaningful conversations and build a stronger connection.
- Make their hangouts yours.
Community events and fundraisers often have a high number of boomers in attendance and provide ample opportunities to meet people. Pay attention to where these decision-makers spend their time. I recall as a new sales guy in my 20s, I realized that the leaders (decision-makers) at that time routinely spent time at the country club – so I joined. It was one of the best moves I made.
- See the bigger picture of their life.
Millennials may feel that this is a busy time in their lives and the boomers are throttling back. But this is a busy time in their lives, too. They’re often balancing taking care of their aging parents with spending time with their grown children, grandchildren and friends. Make it a point to connect with this generation on the important things in their lives – it’s a good conversation starter.
- Keep up on current events.
You can use Twitter to do this. Many boomers have grown up reading the newspaper – physically front to back. They’re generally well read on current events. Being savvy yourself on what’s going on in the world around you will provide another way for you to establish dialogue and connect.
- Invite them for happy hour, lunch or coffee.
All boomers were young professionals once, too, and most welcome the opportunity to share their personal and professional experiences. It’s highly likely someone did that for them and they’re happy to return the favor.
I think I’ve done a pretty good job maintaining a contemporary profile, and I very much respect the younger generation. I actually have a lot of fun socializing with millennials. The better young people connect with us, the more likely they are to be noticed. I encourage millennials to get to know and understand our generation better – it’s a promotable behavior.
Got a technology question or need? Get it answered here.