Each year about this time, my mind turns to the new batch of graduates about to enter the workforce, but perhaps this year my interest is more intense.
You see, my son is among the class of 2017 graduates, so examining the kind of leadership he will experience in his first post-graduate job is more than just an intellectual exercise, it’s personal. Like every parent, I want my child to be wildly successful and to thrive throughout his career, but whether that happens depends not only on his own drive and resilience, coupled with the choices he makes, but will also be influenced by how others commit to his development.
Since none of us rises to our own greatness in a vacuum, how leaders manage and nurture young talent is a critical responsibility in every organization.
Over the last four years, I’ve had a chance to reflect on the experiences that my son and his friends have had in internships and jobs. It’s remarkable how many of the companies they worked for missed the opportunity to achieve maximum benefit from this cohort of talent. Despite the workplace models that we’ve come to adore from companies like Apple and Google, keeping young new hires engaged is about a lot more than ping-pong tables in the break room and company-sponsored parties. This generation wants to feel that they are a part of something that matters, and that their opinions and insights are valued.
So how can you create an engaging environment inside your organization? How does leadership mindset need to change to embrace all that these new graduates can offer? It’s a shift, a subtle but powerful shift, and one that can make all the difference.
Accomplishing this shift will require a wholesale re-examination of how new hires are introduced to their job roles, how they experience the culture of the organization, who (other than their manager) is involved with their development, how the playing field is leveled so that each employee has equal access to success, and how the organization encourages boundary-stretching thinking.
When this commencement season has passed, we’ll have a group of new hires that will be entering a global business environment, the likes of which no generation before has experienced. Technology continues to evolve at a breathtaking pace, geographic boundaries are increasingly irrelevant and the access to information consumers have to guide their product and service choices will only expand.
In fact, many of the jobs these new hires will be competing for 10 years from now don’t even exist yet. The real question is: How ready are your leaders to leverage the bright young minds joining your organization today so that your company is relevant in the next decade?
Alaina Love is chief operating officer and president of Purpose Linked Consulting and co-author of “The Purpose Linked Organization: How Passionate Leaders Inspire Winning Teams and Great Results” (McGraw-Hill). She is a recovering HR executive, a global speaker and leadership expert, and passionate about everything having to do with, well … passion. Her passion archetypes are Builder, Transformer and Healer. You can learn more about how to grow leaders, build passionate teams and leverage passion to create great customer outcomes here.
When she’s not working with her Fortune 500 client base, Love is busy writing her next book, “Passionality, The Art and Science of Finding Your Passion and Living Your Bliss,” which explores the alignment of personality, purpose and passion, and the science of how it contributes to our well being. Follow Love on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube or her blog.