Millennials are the least engaged generation in the workplace, according to a Gallup report. Less than a third (29%) are connected emotionally and behaviourally to their work. This comes against the backdrop of millennials making up half of the workforce by 2021. How can we help our young people become the best versions of themselves at work? Two young professionals from social enterprise CoachBright, Robin Chu and Carole Reniero (both born in the 1990s), give their perspective on why we need to adopt a coaching approach when managing and building relationships at work, by exploring the themes of purpose and vulnerability.
75% of millennials would take a pay cut to work for a company with more social responsibility.
Robin (manager): Having grown up with financial crises, greater connectivity and higher awareness of mental health and world issues, it is clear that purpose and making an impact are significant drivers for young professionals. Presently, early career training across sectors tends to focus on nitty-gritty technical knowledge such as accountancy exams, commercial law legislation or learning to operate that CRM system. There needs to be equal focus on helping an employee understand who they want to be at work, what triggers changes in mood, and what gets them out of bed in the morning.
Questions such as: ‘What values resonate with you this week at work?’ and ‘How do you build trust with others and have the impact you want to see?’ have led to some incredible breakthroughs in performance, and perhaps more importantly, increased self awareness on the influence and power employees can have at work and beyond.
Carole (managee): With better technology and connectivity come many incredible opportunities, including networking with people from various sectors, some of which we have never heard of before, and choosing between various career paths. While this is all very exciting, it can also be very daunting.
When I was still at university over a year ago, I had no clue what I wanted my first job to look like, or who I wanted to become. It was partly through coaching in my first role that I learned where my strengths and weaknesses lie at work. This included looking at questions such as: ‘Where do you want to go from here?’, ‘What do you think is your main area for development?’ and ‘What does your ideal self at work look like?’
Since then, I have developed a new programme for our members of staff to encourage them to use coaching in supporting and challenging each other to grow.
‘In a world where nothing can be hidden, we need that extra dimension of benevolence. We need to show that common human care, compassion and kindness in our business lives.’ John Blakey from the Trusted Executive
Robin (manager): The latest Deloitte Global Millennial survey shows that young professionals are increasingly losing trust and faith in traditional institutions. 73% say that political leaders are failing to have a positive effect on the world, and 27% have no trust in the media as a reliable source of information. With this in mind, more is expected of employers to take a stand on wellbeing, talent development and wider societal issues.
Coaching can play a key part in helping younger staff understand that they are ‘allowed’ to bring all of themselves to work. The desire to embrace people for who they are and to encourage them to be honest and thoughtful is key in building trust. Alongside this, coaching members of your team to understand each other better can reveal their various blind spots and deepen their awareness of the value they bring to the organisation.
Carole (managee): It takes vulnerability and honesty for a coaching relationship to flourish. One of the challenges is finding the courage to put yourself out there. In my first role, I felt that vulnerability was a sign of weakness. I wanted to impress my superiors, thinking that progression was about looking strong and capable. This, however, is a widespread misconception among young professionals.
Through coaching, I realised how much damage this attitude had done to my wellbeing. For example, I remember how surprised I felt the first time my manager told me he was worried about me. He had sensed that at times I was trying to perform rather than be my real self. That is when I realised that always putting on a brave face had actually made things worse. Real progress happened when I became more reflective. Coaching helped me to embrace vulnerability as a sign of strength, and I encourage other young professionals to do the same.
The new generation coming through who will soon become our leaders care about purpose and making an impact – they can make a real difference. Roadblocks lie ahead in managing their ego, temperament and belief. We know that a desire to overly impress, or low self esteem, are part and parcel of anyone starting their career. We know that this emerging generation can do incredible things – it is up to us as coaches to bring the best out of them.
Do you care about supporting young professionals? We would love to hear from you.
Carole Reniero – Programmes and Coaching Lead at CoachBright: LinkedIn / Email
Robin Chu – CEO and Founder of CoachBright: LinkedIn / Email
Photo: Rémi Walle on Unsplash