Millennials and Strategic Planning: Don’t Panic

millennials and strategic planningBy Holli Salamone, Program Coordinator – We have all heard the familiar phrase “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” Unfortunately, many of us are guilty of doing this very thing, particularly when it concerns millennials. The millennial generation is soon to be the largest generation in the workplace. Therefore, it is inevitable that managers will interview and hire millennials, whether they are ready to or not. So how do leaders prepare to employ this “Snowflake Generation” that has been labeled with words such as: impatient, entitled, spoiled, and disrespectful? How can representatives of this generation possibly fit into workplace culture and the strategic planning process? Can millennials and strategic planning go together hand in hand? Instead of looking solely at the negative, managers should look at the positive attributes that millennials bring to the table and how these attributes can actually benefit the strategic planning process and help plans be more successful. Here are three positive qualities that millennials have to offer.

Positive Millennial Traits

  • Collaboration: Millennials are often described as only being self-interested. However, they place a high value on “real” relationships with co-workers and strive to build teams that are high-performing. Millennials are passionate about individual voices and opinions being heard and considered. This allows for open, honest discussions that ultimately build trust and stability. Such discussions may also include asking the questions that no one else wants to ask, which can be invaluable to the planning process. This is a good example of a benefit that can result from intentionally pairing millennials and strategic planning.
  • Flexibility and Balance: “Work smarter not harder” could be the motto of most millennials.  Gone are the days of working 9-5. Millennials desire a flex schedule that allows for an optimal work-life balance. They strive to complete their work in a timely fashion using the latest technology to their advantage. Whether it be in the office or at home, millennials will get the job done . . . just maybe not in the most traditional sense. This smart approach can enhance the tactical piece of a strategic plan and help ensure that it is successfully implemented. Adherence to a plan’s timeline is not an issue for millennials, as long as they have the desired flexibility.
  • Transparency: Social media has allowed the world to be a much smaller place and millennials have used it to its utmost advantage.  While they can be guilty of sometimes sharing too much on social media outlets, they also allow themselves to be open books which most certainly builds trust. Trust leads to stronger workplace relationships and more collaborative teams. Strategic planning is a collaborative process. A team who trusts each other is able to ask difficult questions (see above) and have the type of honest conversations that are key to effective planning. Execution of a strategic plan depends on team members having trust and confidence in each other to “own” and implement the parts of the plan that are theirs.

Let Millennials Influence Strategic Planning

When planning a company strategy, include millennial employees in the process. Also, think of how future millennial employees may fit into the plan. Realize that millennials and strategic planning can not only coexist, but go hand in hand. By laying aside common stereotypes and focusing on the positive qualities that millennials have to offer, businesses can allow themselves to be positively influenced by a generation that is open, honest, and trustworthy.