In my new book, The Millennial Myth, I devote a whole chapter to the (mis)perception that millennials are disloyal. I argue that loyalty, by definition, is a two-way street and that, by better defining an organization’s purpose, loyalty is inspired for modern talent.
This week, I was honored to attend Leadercast’s 2017 “Leadercast Live” conference as a Leadercast Now speaker. Leadercast’s focus is to “create innovative events and digital content for time-starved leaders and organizations that allow them to take immediate measurable actions that impact the lives of those they lead.” Leadercast Live is simulcast to host sites around the world and includes best-in-class production technology. This year’s theme “Powered by Purpose” hit the nail on the head when it comes to aligning self with purpose and gave food for thought when applied to the context of inspiring loyalty, not just for millennials, but for all digitally-enabled modern talent.
Here’s what stood out for me and my take on it:
“Purpose can’t be borrowed, it must be built. Purpose must be on purpose.” Leadercast
One of my biggest gripes with companies today is that they seek to copy and paste from the Googles of the world instead of doing the hard work of figuring out what their unique value proposition is – not just for external customers, but for their internal culture. The more organizations copy and paste, the less internal and external people can differentiate them from other organizations. Seeking to stand out by imitation of a ‘sexy’ culture leads to change only at the surface and rarely meets the real needs.
“Competition is fierce on YouTube. Most you probably don’t have to be worried about being beat out by a cat.” Host and MC, Tripp Crosby, Comedian and Director. Purpose: To help people take themselves a little less seriously
Referring to business, Crosby made the above bold statement. It’s a good way to put your business into context. Many organizations are worried about being “uber-ized” and how to remain competitive in today’s world. Rightfully so, and yet, it may help to take yourself a little less seriously. Getting real about what your organization does, what is vital, and what may be a little less important may help drive loyalty in this world where everything and anything is often painted as important and mission-critical. There may be something valuable in the desire for fun that millennials often express.
“Everybody has to eat and live indoors. Until these needs are met, you don’t have the capacity to ask questions about purpose.” Andy Stanley, Leadership communicator and founder of North Point Ministries, expanding on advice from his mentor, Charlie Renfroe
I’m often asked by leaders “Isn’t it unrealistic for millennials to expect every job to hold purpose?” I always start my answer with Stanley’s well-made point. It’s not every job or every millennial – but it is for every human who has met those basic needs in life (e.g. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs). I talk about this more in The Millennial Myth, in the chapter titled “It’s Not Entitled, It’s Entrepreneurial”. The moment an individual connects their role to a deeper purpose of service, they are connecting to purpose, from janitors to vice presidents.
“Purpose is a means to an end. Most people want to be the something, the end. It’s hard to be the reason for something. Purpose is always found just across the border from what’s in it for me.” Andy Stanley
Another powerful point by Stanley. Organizations are notorious for being focused on the end goal, the best ROI, the most market share, that they lose sight of the means, or the way they want to achieve those goals. Organizations are often led by “what’s in it for me” thinking and profit-driven motives. And yet, purpose is not about self, it is about others. It’s not about what you are able to attain for yourself, it’s about how you serve others, internally and externally, because it is in service that one makes an impact. Put it simply, at the end of the day, if you ask a random person what impact an organization has, they probably won’t be able to tell you the latest earnings of the organization, but they will be able to tell you about the products, how they treat their employees, and what contributions they’ve made to society.
“Accountability is an answer to trust. Shift the needs of the reality to the people who can control the outcome.” Dr. Henry Cloud
When it comes loyalty, leaders must be cognizant of what they can control and what they cannot. Leaders can control the mission and vision of the company and they can enable a culture that supports both. If leaders want to hold employees accountable to the investments that are made, they need to make the reality clear to those employees. What is the reality? That employees are important and turnover does hurt the organization. If leaders are consistent in their message and behavior that employees are important, employees can decide on their own whether or not to support the company vision by staying. What happens instead is that organizations often make employees feel unimportant and then complain about the “leaky bucket” or the “revolving door”. Employees are not water in a pail — they are valued individuals that are an asset to the organization.
I’d like to close with one last quote:
“As a leader, we often attempt to create the organization in our own image – our strengths, our values, our ways of doing things. But we are human and have our own weaknesses. So what happens is that our talent now has the same weaknesses.” Dr. Henry Cloud
We may often get frustrated with millennials and their mindset. We may want them to think like other generations or do like other generations. But there is a danger in that mindset: time has moved forward and what served us yesterday may not serve us today. We may want millennials to be loyal for reasons we think they should be loyal – but what we think doesn’t matter. It’s what they think, what they know about you as an organization, and how they make their own decisions.
**If you are interested in attending Leadercast in 2018, for the first time they are offering a $99 registration price until May 10th.
Pick up your copy of The Millennial Myth to learn more and launch a powerful mindset shift that will help you in your everyday relationships and let you shape culture that breaks through the battle between generations.
Crystal Kadakia is a two-time TEDx speaker, author, and consultant on Millennials and the Modern Workplace. Her unique expertise is in driving the connection between Millennial behavior and the evolution of the digital, modern workplace. Her company, Invati Consulting, modernizes the workplace through speaking, training, and consulting solutions. She is the author of The Millennial Myth: Transforming Misunderstanding into Workplace Breakthroughs and Your Career: How to Make it Happen. She is the creator of the acclaimed virtual, blended training on generations, Generation University™,the Modern Learner Workshop, and the Modern Culture Diagnostic™ that drives organizations to strategically shift culture for the needs of modern employees.