Thursday, October 20, 2011

UMC Millenial Leaders

I read an interesting blog today about the Millennial generation but had MANY questions. I'm curious if those of you in that age bracket would agree with these ideas, or if this is more a Catalyst culture millennial insight. It read to me as if they had a brainstorming session with a few people over lunch and made up a somewhat random list.

If you are a millennial clergy, or in church leadership of some sort and a millennial, I'd especially be curious about your thoughts as your generation interacts with older leadership. What do you millennials say? As is often the case when I read a broad discussion of a generation I admit I'm somewhat skeptical. You folk born after 1980 could help me with your clarifications and additions to the list below. I do want to learn more about what it means for the millennials to step into leadership and how we might best engage that age group.

The full post, 20 Points on Leading Millenials, is here. I've edited down to the main points and then included my thoughts or questions in italics.

A good friend asked me the other day my thoughts on how to lead the millennial generation, basically those born after 1980. We gather thousands of leaders who fit this category on an annual basis, and most of our Catalyst staff are under the age of 30.

I have to admit- I don’t always get this right. As a 100% Gen X’er, my tendency is to lean away from several of these points, and lead how I’ve been led over the years by Boomer and Busters. But I’m working on it…. What are comparable business environments using large numbers of millenials and creating this sort of dynamic illustrated below? Is it Google, Facebook, etc. or some other business? Any churches or ministry groups with a crowd that age doing this?

So with that said, here you go, thoughts on leading millenials:

1. Give them freedom with their schedule. I’ll admit, this one is tough for me. What does this mean?? How does this work? What does it look like?

2. Provide them projects, not a career. Career is just not the same anymore. They desire options. Just like free agents. Interesting... but refer to my questions in #1 and give some specifics.

3. Create a family environment. Work, family and social are all intertwined, so make sure the work environment is experiential and family oriented. Everything is connected. This often works well in ministry, but then sometimes the demands of ministry demand the attention. What does "experiential" work mean?

4. Cause is important. Tie in compassion and justice to the “normal.” Causes and opportunities to give back are important. This is easy enough to do with ministry though sometimes this constant is a challenge. What is the typical life span of a millennial doing Catalyst work?

5. Embrace social media. it’s here to stay. Okie dokie, that makes sense.

6. They are more tech savvy than any other generation ever. Technology is the norm. XBOX, iPhones, laptops, iPads are just normal. If you want a response, text first, then call. Or DM first. Or send a Facebook message. Not anti calls though. K

7. Lead each person uniquely. Don’t create standards or rules that apply to everyone. Customize your approach. (I’ll admit, this one is difficult too!) I'm curious on this one. Are you talking about more than personality differences? How does this work in a large organization?

8. Make authenticity and honesty the standard for your corporate culture. Millenials are cynical at their core, and don’t trust someone just because they are in charge.
The 1st sentence makes perfect sense. Re the 2nd- Really, how cynical? What does this mean re. supervision?

9. Millenials are not as interested in “climbing the corporate ladder.” But instead more concerned about making a difference and leaving their mark. Is this true for the whole generation? I know some folk that seem to be fairly adept at climbing the ladder! HOW do folk want to "make a difference and leave their mark?" I don't see the generation geared to this unless you mean something different than what I understand in the statement.

10. Give them opportunities early with major responsibility. They don’t want to wait their turn. Want to make a difference now. And will find an outlet for influence and responsibility somewhere else if you don’t give it to them. Empower them early and often. I actually find this to be one of my favorites on the list. How might a ministry organization or denomination best do this?

11. All about the larger win, not the personal small gain. Young leaders in general have an abundance mentality instead of scarcity mentality. What do you mean by this? Give an example of what this could mean in a ministry.

12. Partnering and collaboration are important. Not interested in drawing lines. Collaboration is the new currency, along with generosity. This is awesome if we are going to tackle some big issues of the day.

13. Not about working for a personality. Not interested in laboring long hours to build a temporal kingdom for one person. But will work their guts out for a cause and vision bigger than themselves. I like this thought but not sure what it means in relation to #1 &2.

14. Deeply desire mentoring, learning and discipleship. Many older leaders think millenials aren’t interested in generational wisdom transfer. Not true at all. Younger leaders are hungry for mentoring and discipleship, so build it into your organizational environment. Please give an example of what you mean and what this looks like.

15. Coach them and encourage them. They want to gain wisdom through experience. Come alongside them don’t just tell them what to do. This is potentially anther favorite though I do have significant questions. What does such an apprentice model look like in your ministry or work? Does this mean, similar to the rec department with kids, that everyone needs a trophy and "atta boy" for each project? If they want to be handed responsibility and we are to treat each person uniquely what does that style coaching look like in Catalyst or with millenials? How would any of this be different than a previous generation?

16. Create opportunities for quality time- individually and corporately. They want to be led by example, and not just by words. What is "quality time" in this context? Give an example

17. Hold them accountable. They want to be held accountable by those who are living it out. Measure them and give them constant feedback. What does it mean to give "constant feedback" at Catalyst? What is the ratio of supervisors to workers? What does this look like in other ministries or workplaces that have a high concentration of millenials?

18. They’ve been exposed to just about everything, so the sky is the limit in their minds. Older leaders have to understand younger leaders have a much broader and global perspective, which makes wowing Millenials much more difficult. Again, I'm drawn to this one but not sure I'm getting it all. What do you mean? What does this look like in the workplace?

19. Recognize their values, not just their strengths. It ain’t just about the skillz baby. Don’t use them without truly knowing them. This is another one I appreciate yet have some questions about. Is this that bridge between personal and professional as mentioned above? For some reason "The Office" just flashed in my mind! Do you do this both formally and informally? Asked another way, does personnel or human resources evaluations do this? I'd love to see an example of that eval form!

20. Provide a system that creates stability. Clear expectations with the freedom to succeed, and providing stability on the emotional, financial, and organizational side. Again, what does this mean and what does it look like?

Thanks to the Catalyst team and our band of millenials for their input and advice on these points. James Wilson, Julianne Graves, Sabrina Esposito, Alyssa Raymer, Stan Johnson, and Ansley Lawhead. You guys provided great insight!
If any of this crew can speak to my questions that would be really helpful!

1 comment:

Dalton said...

Interesting. I guess I resonate with some of these points, but who wouldn't like more freedom, for instance? The more specific the points get, though, the less accurate they are. Take the "give them projects" point, for example. I am not sure how this stacks up against the general point of more freedom, of working for the cause, of the importance of long-term success vs. short-term. They actually seem to be sort of antithetical.

One thing that does resonate for me is the "not waiting their turn" point. I sense this tension within myself, though I don't know if it is a function of my stage in life or my generation. I do see the importance of giving people with potential the opportunity to succeed (and here, I am thinking about the present state of the UMC). The old "farm system" of small, rural churches does not seem to be enough to face the current realities.

Anyhow, just some thoughts. Thanks for bringing this forward. You always find the most interesting stuff!