Thursday, 14 July 2016

Millennials, Mentoring and Making an Impact

I have been working on a fascinating project over the last few months with a global client that is looking to develop high potential millennials through a reverse mentoring initiative with the senior leadership team. My involvement has been to develop the influencing skills that will be needed for these young professionals to have real impact around the senior leadership table and here’s what I’ve noticed:
  • A real concern regarding what they are/are not ‘allowed’ to say.
  • A desire to please; a concern to challenge; a lack of confidence given their relatively junior position vis-a-vis their senior colleagues.
  • A real passion in their role and a belief in what they – as Millennials – think, act and feel.
So where have we focused our efforts?

Speaking in public with confidence and authority, facilitating a discussion to achieve a common goal and being comfortable to be ‘put on the spot’. In a complex, fast-paced business, with more than its fair share of ambiguity, complexity and uncertainty, having impact means being able to demonstrate these skills – amongst many others. It is also essential to getting things done.

So, where to start? Well, how about considering the following:

  • Managing our body language - because the majority of our communication is non–verbal and so how we sit, use our hands and look at people all has significant impact on the power of our message.
  • Rehearsing key messages in advance: practising saying not just thinking about key points is vital – especially when faced with a short window to get (and keep) the attention of the audience.
  • Knowing when to stop talking and structuring our messages into three parts creates a natural story and ‘finish point’.
  • Supporting opinion with fact makes our viewpoint more compelling.
  • Explaining the ‘why’; not just the ‘what’ (because as Simon Sinek says: ‘people don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it’).
  • Being able to ‘elegantly interrupt’ someone who waffles on or takes the discussion off track are vital moderating skills.
  • Saying ‘I don’t know’ confidently (rather than apologetically).
  • Being willing to stand up and take responsibility for moving things forward (rather than pointing the finger at others or waiting for ‘the company’ to change).
…and that’s just a few of the topics we’ve explored. As the sessions have unfolded what is clearly apparent is that these are strategies and skills at all ages; not just for millennials. Making an impact isn’t easy; it’s about personal rather than positional power and whether we are a mentor, a millennial or simply a professional striving to do a good job, the skills of exquisite influence are ones that all of us can hone at any age.

Until next time…