A Surprising Truth About Millennials and Collaboration

Does your collaboration style need a renovation for millennials?When you see a Millennial check his calendar, book a meeting and text a colleague in a few rapid phone maneuvers, you doubt there was ever a time without technology. This on-demand generation puts a priority on efficiency. But when asked how they like to get things done, the answer will surprise you: Millennials prefer interpersonal collaboration techniques to any other method, even technology.

Millennials’ desire for collaboration is one of ten factors shaping the future of our workplace, according to Dan Schawbel. During the last two weeks, I’ve explored where my views converge with Schawbel on this topic.

Millennials like to work in teams to accomplish their goals. “It’s less about what company they work for and more about who they are working with and the types of projects they work on,” Schawbel adds. Here’s the rub: “38 percent of Millennials feel that outdated collaboration processes hinder their company’s innovation.”

Does your collaboration need renovation?

Millennials define a collaborative environment as one where the leadership is transparent, communicative, and engaging. As leaders, we need to recognize that pacesetting outcomes result from relevant teamwork and cooperation. How do we nurture these opportunities?

1. Increase access and transparency. A transparent culture is the gateway to collaboration at all levels. Organizational Consultant Sarah Marino says, “Transparency can include sharing board packets, financial information and program evaluations, along with inviting staff members to observe or report at board meetings.”

2. Encourage collaborative problem solving. Marino also stresses the importance of using staff meetings to openly discuss critical issues and gather input, rather than reporting. HBO’s Richard Plepler put his company on the path to unprecedented growth when he established a culture of teamwork. Plepler explains, “We needed to adjust our mindsets to establish team trust and collaboration before anything could change.”

3. Minimize participation detractors. Simple structural changes to your meetings can improve participation. 74 percent of Millennials prefer to collaborate in small groups to generate ideas. This satisfies their need for community and ensures everyone feels heard.

Whether it’s structural or process-oriented, I hope you consider applying one of the collaboration strategies I’ve mentioned above. In the meantime, I’ll close with a quote from Apple’s Tim Cook on this important topic. He said, “We’ve turned up the volume on collaboration because it’s so clear that in order for us to be incredibly successful we have to be the best collaborators in the world.”

Continue the series with Part 1, Part 2, Part 4.

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