The shift is happening. This year, Millennials will be the largest generation in the American workforce. One in three employees are Millennials, and more are coming. Preventing a generational shift is impossible. We have a choice:
- Do we demean a generation?
- Do we activate a new generation?
It is that simple. Do you hold people back and blame it on youth, or do you find a way to activate the talents of the next generation?
Each generation has a responsibility, not just Millennials, Gen Xers, or Boomers. There are certain career principles that withstand the test of ages, and we need to boost them in how we develop our careers and lead forward.
Career Principles to Activate Generations
1 – Engagement is dead. Activism is the new standard.
Being on the defense is not a complete strategy. Employees are put on the defense too often. In a recent Weber Shandwick report, Employees Rising: Seizing the Opportunity in Employee Activism, 42% of those surveyed experienced a major event at work (e.g., lay-offs, merger or acquisition, crisis). Uncertainty may be one of the reasons why employee engagement is only at 30%.
Engagement is a low standard, rarely keeping our career fresh. Activism entails challenging conversations, involvement in industry groups, greater cross-functional understanding, and leading in positively unexpected ways. Activism is a new career mindset where we are in more control of how we solve problems and how we interact with others.
No one can control the major events. We can control our mindset in how we navigate and lead through the mazes. More than self-control, this is career control, and an activist mindset is a constant principle for career success.
2 – The status quo stunts growth. Always learn something new and advance your leadership capabilities.
Learning something new may be self-evident, especially with a dash of activism. However, learning is only the first step. What we absorb and then adopt is the only real way to enhance our leadership capabilities.
Learning is a mental activity. Converting what we learn into tangible actions is career growth activity. We need both to be relevant.
3 – Life is short. Strengthen those who will lead next.
We tend to forget, but life is short. Someone will take our role. Two questions arise:
- Do we want to leave the next leader stronger?
- Do we want a positive legacy to lead forward?
Mentoring is an age old principle that needs to be activated with new energy and conducted more boldly between young and old. The energy and boldness come from a mix of inspiration and challenge – tangible yet ambitious.
Mentoring is more than a baton being passed; mentoring is lessons learned and heard.
4 – Something old, something new – the twines that bind for strength.
New generations entering our workplaces is not new. Treating young leaders with a disdaining attitude is self-centered and unproductive. Diversity delivers strength, an ageless principle.
Diversity means activating talents across many dimensions. Through diversity, we solve problems in better ways. Through diversity, we innovate in ways thought unimaginable. Through diversity, we enhance our empathy skills.
We become more well-rounded and resilient. Being intertwined builds strength.
5 – Connections alone are not enough. Collaborate to thrive.
Through social channels, our connections reach across boundaries. Unleveraged, our connections are merely communication channels. When we activate our connections into collaborative relationships, we use the talents of all involved and gain greater momentum in our initiatives.
There is a spirit to cooperative efforts that is understood when we experience them. We need to build collaborative relationships more often by delivering clarity of mission, authority to act, and accountability on what should be achieved.
Activated Generations, Renewed Career Principles
Our workplaces are turning into activated communities. Our careers are tapping into our inner potential for a greater purpose. All combined, profit grows. Businesses gain in strength and growth. People gain energy by being activated in more meaningful ways.
Some career and leadership principles withstand the test of time while being refreshed by a new generation. We are in this time now. Let us activate them!