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The most important business lesson you can learn from millennials


MPW Insider is an online community where the biggest names in business and beyond answer timely career and leadership questions. Today’s answer for: How do you build a strong team? is written by Terri McClements, managing partner of PwC’s Washington Metro Market.

Strong teams are united by purpose. Not only should each individual on the team understand the end goal, but they also must believe in it. They should be driven by it. And, most importantly, they must not be deterred by failure, but rather learn from it and move forward. I actually credit millennials with challenging traditions and changing the way employers view and nurture employees today. After all, this is the generation that is willing to forfeit some of their pay to work for an organization that shares their same values. They believe businesses can exist for reasons that go beyond products and services.

In both my current and previous positions, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the needs of employees and how individuals operate within their teams. And I must say, I’ve been inspired by the passion in some of our employees. But finding individuals who understand and believe in an organization’s purpose is only step one. From there, you must create an environment that enables success. But how?

Get to know each other
Work is stressful and demanding, and even though we spend more time at work than anywhere else, life is about so much more than what happens in the office. A year ago I joined a team that had never spent time together outside of work. So, we signed up for a cooking class as a way to get to know one another. To this day, we still laugh and reminisce about the fun we had cooking with “the secret ingredient.” Bottom line—it brought us closer together and reinforced a key point: It’s important to see your teammates not just as colleagues, but as unique individuals with diverse backgrounds and interests. And, it’s important to have fun.

See also: The single worst mistake that a manager can make

Say ‘thank you’
When team members perform, reward them. Likewise, when they’re heading down the wrong path, give them feedback. Strong teams are made up of individuals who are receptive to both giving and receiving feedback — at any moment in time, not just once per year. There are 86,400 seconds in a day. It takes just one second to say thanks. And the feeling lasts much longer.

Build trust
The best teams are made up of individuals who come from a variety of backgrounds. Give each team member the autonomy to own their responsibilities and trust them to make the right decisions. This doesn’t mean they’ll always be right, but forcing everyone to do things your way won’t only inhibit innovation, it will also stifle their development and true leadership potential.

Read all answers to the MPW Insider question: How do you build a strong team?

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