Proof You Should Never Underestimate a Millennial

April 9, 2016, 8:00 PM UTC
Photograph by Izabela Habur via Getty Images

The Leadership Insider network is an online community where the most thoughtful and influential people in business contribute answers to timely questions about careers and leadership. Today’s answer to the question: How do you keep your team motivated? is written by Wes Durow, CMO of Mitel.

Everyone has different leadership methods, but my approach has always been to start with the ultimate end goal: build an organization with cheetah-like speed and sled-dog endurance. To move quickly in business you need to ask a lot from your staff, but you also need to ensure they have the motivation to go the distance. Here are five ways your company can create determined employees who are always eager to get to work:

Create a culture of continuous learning
The best thing you can do for both your employees and your organization is to create a culture where employees can fail often, but still learn. Certainly you don’t want to be making the same mistakes more than once, but part of the budget — as well as part of the team’s energy and effort — should always be dedicated to trying new things. These new things can be micro tests, allowing you to start small and build on successes while discarding any failures without consequence.

See also: Why More Money Won’t Motivate Your Employees

Keep things fresh and interesting
The best place to look for new ideas is often outside your industry. When I think about high-tech — the space my company is in — it’s a high-involvement purchase decision. Whether somebody buys a $25,000 contact center solution for a mid-size business or small business, or spends millions of dollars on a 4G LTE environment, that decision is every bit as fraught as buying a new house or a new car. So, it’s probably safe to say that these industries have some good processes in place that we might be able to borrow to make things better for our customers. Looking at other industries is a great way to learn and test new ideas.

Don’t underestimate younger employees
This is what I call, “ask a millennial.” If you’ve been doing things a certain way for a long time, consider asking a millennial for his or her fresh perspective. When I talk to my daughter about placing a conference call, she’s expecting to see the same functionality on a desk phone as she has on her smartphone. In reality, the process is not that easy. Asking digital natives for advice can be eye-opening on how we can make technology more intuitive. Not only does this create a culture where employees are learning from other industries, but also from each other. It also creates a culture where younger employees are valued for their life experience just as industry experience benefits older employees.

Provide clear guidance
Organizations need to simplify things for their team whenever possible. We often make things too complicated with big, lengthy measurement dashboards. In any organization, there are really only a few core variables that really indicate whether the organization is growing and sustainable. It might be the sales cycle length, productivity, or cost per acquisition. Find the few key variables to measure and be really clear about these throughout your organization. If you’re not doing something that adheres to and drives those measures, restrategize and do something else.

Keep things fun
This is something that is easy to say, but harder to execute. If you really want to have a culture of learning, employees need to be able to have some fun. People have choices when they wake up every day to choose whether they want to come to work with you or not. So we want to make sure we create an environment where employees are set up for success, both individually and as a team. Build a culture that provides that transparent, straightforward feedback that employees are looking for while implementing a little fun along the way.

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