Millennial Management – Breaking Down Promotions into Milestones

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Today, managers frequently run into the issue with gauging how fast to promote a Millennial employee. Often, managers would hear bizarre requests like a new hire wanting to be the CEO within two years. The difficult predicament arises on how to retain a Millennial so that they feel that they are moving in their career, within their current position, that also matches their present ability. If the manager promotes the Millennial too quickly, the manager can create jealously within the workplace and also place an employee in a position where they nosedive. On the other hand, if a manager fails to promote a Millennial quickly enough, the employee will feel stagnate and eventually look for another company with upward mobility.

It’s a great problem to have an employee that wants to move up in the company rankings over a complacent one. But the question arises how do you harness their upward driving motivation? Do you promote the speed that they want? Do you keep them in place in order to ensure that they understand their lacking experience? To both questions, I say – no. Knowledge transfer needs to happen where the manager explains the skills that the employee lacks and what is required to move up. In other words, making each step in their career path explicit – quantifying milestones.

So does quantifying milestones really work, or am I a Millennial attempting to push an agenda pertaining to what I think what the corporate world should do? Well, Gallup Research, a workplace research firm focused on the quantifying milestones are correlated this action with engagement. Research revealed that setting milestones immensely helps with improving engagement. With that said, here are few steps that will help you break down career paths in order to engage and retain your millennial workforce:

1.     Explaining the Next Step


In corporation companies employees usually move upwards. However, an employee can also move horizontal, or rather sideways, to different team internally. Sit down with your direct report and show them their mobility options within the company and the skills required for each move. Now, with this new information, they can begin to map out what options they have and understand what working hard now can bring to their future.

2.     Making the Unknown Known


The next step consists of making the qualitative, quantitative. In these cases, when a position says ‘Needs to have 5 years of experience` break that down into pieces. For instance, last week I gave a talk at a Police Training Conference and law enforcement has a ranking hierarchy. We went through a simple exercise breaking down why a law enforcement officer needs 5 years of experience to move from a Lieutenant to a Captain. We concluded that having the ability to manage a crime scene, and very intense crime situation usually taken about ‘5 years of experience`. For a non-government position such as an engineer, breaking down what new skills that engineer should have for a promotion. In either case, breaking the position career into tangible steps helps you, as the manager, with measuring promotion eligibility.

3.     Transferring Ownership


Once you have succinctly broken down the career path steps into tangible steps, the next phase is giving your millennial employee ownership. In this phase, you and your direct report know all the pieces to get to the next level helping your direct report achieve a promotion faster if they so choose. This step effectively removes the career path responsibility from the manager and places it in the Millennial’s hand giving them full career path responsibility.

While this may seem simple, actual implementation requires many moving pieces and sometimes Human Resources involvement. However, in these crazy turnover times, learning to empower your employee enhances your organization’s ability to retain today’s top talent.

Jeff Butler

Jeff Butler Internationally respected speaker and consultant, Jeff Butler helps bridge generational gaps between Millennials and companies looking for their talent and patronage. Butler has quickly built his reputation as a memorable presenter with tangible solutions for attracting, retaining, and engaging Millennials as employees and customers. Within just the past three years, he has spoken at two TEDx events and multiple Fortune 500 companies such as Google, Amazon, and LinkedIn.


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