Millennial Strategies For Taking Career Ownership
 
Brianna Johnson

My ConvergenceCoaching team members and I have had a great three days attending the BDO Alliance conference in Las Vegas, exploring the theme of innovation and how it applies in all areas of practice management. During the conference, Jennifer Wilson and I taught a super interactive session on bridging generational complaints and ways to collaborate to drive the changes that each generation seeks. In that session, one topic that arose in our discussion was the subject of Millennials exhibiting personal interest and disloyalty when it comes to choosing an employer and staying with that firm.

This topic reminded me of a blog I wrote in May 2015 related to the sense of entitlement that Millennials are perceived to have and the steps that members of my generation can take to remove that perception – because I believe that we Millennials are interested in working toward the goals and mission of a single entity and can be loyal. However, a lack of two-way communication and understanding of progression and learning options is what can lead to this negative perception. I thought it made sense to re-post this blog and remind my fellow Millennials to take ownership of your career opportunities and in opening up communication around this topic.

Fellow Millennials: They Call Us Entitled, But Our Future IS In Our Hands

In my last post, I shared strategies for developing a culture that embraces and encourages upward feedback. Among the many benefits feedback provides, one is the insight that firm leaders gain about the hopes and dreams of their up-and-coming leaders. In that post, I encouraged people managers to regularly check in and ask questions of staff to better gauge their professional goals and thoughts around their development.

I believe in most firms, managers aren’t getting the total picture they need – either because they aren’t checking in regularly or because their Millennial professionals aren’t sharing their honest perspective. As a result, this creates ambiguity around the Millennial professional’s career vision and goals, from both the firm’s and the professional’s perspectives.

We Millennials are perceived as disloyal and willing to leave our firms as soon as the going gets tough. There are many articles that discuss Millennial motivators and how to attract and retain our generation’s talent, including many written by ConvergenceCoaching. One of the chief Millennial motivators is feeling like our work is valued and that we are growing and learning. Therefore, the perception that Millennials are disloyal likely stems from the fact that Millennials are focused on gaining the skills and abilities needed to make a difference in their careers and will leave their employer if not provided those opportunities. This is one reason why it’s crucial to maintain ongoing feedback between Millennials and their managers.

The findings in the PwC report, “The Female Millennial: A New Era of Talent,” cited opportunities for advancement and career growth as both the most attractive employer trait and also the most likely reason Millennials will have left an employer. That’s an important finding!

Armed with this knowledge, I’m calling out to my fellow Millennials who want to progress their career within their current firms to engage in an open, honest dialogue with your manager and start discussing the serious stuff: your career needs and wants and your employer’s needs and wants, too.

I don’t believe any Millennial wants a reputation of disloyalty. But I understand the frustration when you feel you’re working in a setting where your future is sitting in a mysterious cloud and your pathway is unclear. So, if you are not already actively discussing your career, your role within your firm, areas where you’d like to learn about or develop in and what the progression path is to higher-level positions, start those conversations now.

If you don’t feel like these conversations are happening between you and your manager, schedule a check-in meeting. The first meeting might feel a little awkward – bringing up your future at the firm when this topic hasn’t been one that occurs more than once or twice a year at an annual review, for example. But if you approach it from the standpoint that you’re excited about your professional growth and future opportunities in the firm, it will be heard as enthusiasm about your potential to build a longer-range career with your firm.

Share your satisfaction with your current role and the aspects of it that you enjoy most and might be worth developing further. Ask your manager if there are areas that he or she believes would be helpful for you to develop. Ask if there are resources available for learning or if you need to seek external opportunities for learning. Ask what types of positions someone in your role is typically promoted to and what the criteria are for promotion. Share your vision for the future of the firm and where you could see yourself within it.

Your manager might not readily have the answers you’re seeking, so let them know that you’d like to schedule check-in meetings more frequently (e.g. quarterly) so that you can stay on track of your development and continue progressing in your role at the firm. According to Gallup’s State of the American Manager report, employees who have frequent check-in meetings with their managers are three times more likely to be engaged in their work than those who don’t have regular meetings. So, by meeting more often, you’re likely to be more in-tune and motivated with your work – a definite added benefit!

The wonderful thing about this type of open communication is that it allows us to be very transparent with the skills we’d like to develop, the types of work we’d like to grow into and the kind of effort we’re willing to put in to make a difference in the firm and in our personal aspirations. When we share that information and work together with our managers and leaders to find solutions, we’re setting the stage for a long career with that respective employer. When our manager or leaders aren’t asking those questions and we’re not voluntarily sharing them, we’re creating our own career limits which will lead us to search elsewhere for new opportunities elsewhere.

Fellow Millennials – what factors make you want to continue working for your firm or organization? How do you communicate your career aspirations with firm leadership? And to the other generations, what advice do you have for restless Millennials who want to grow their abilities and responsibilities? Please share with us!

Kind regards,

Brianna

This popular blog from May 2015 was updated and posted today because of its relevance to our many readers.

 

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