How to Help Millennials Grow as Leaders

A few weeks ago, a young millennial architect reached out to me. She had set up a meeting with her boss and HR director, and it had not gone well.

“I’m very interested in developing my leadership skills,” she told them, “and would love to learn what professional development programs or resources are available to me.” Both her boss and HR director said, “We don’t have anything for you at this point in your career.”

As you might imagine, she is searching for a new job.

Her boss’s response is not an isolated incident. Sixty-three percent of millennials report their leadership skills are not being fully developed. When you consider that 53 million millennials are currently in the workforce, that is a lot of wasted talent.

Naturally, you don’t want to be the leader who is holding back the people on your team. Professional development can lay an incredibly strong foundation for their future success. When you invest in them, they feel more invested in their job and the organization.

And it helps with retention. If a job lacks growth opportunities and avenues for leadership development, 67% of millennials would leave that position. They are leaving, too: Gallup estimates that millennial turnover costs the US economy $30.5 billion annually.

Here’s some good news: 90% of millennials want to grow their careers with their current companies.

What can you do to help a millennial grow as a leader?

Have a one-on-one conversation to learn more about their career goals and discuss how you can help. If they already have a particular course or workshop in mind, ask how it will help propel their career forward.

Let’s say someone on your team wants to learn Japanese, but you don’t have an office or any customers in Japan. Ask how it’s going to support their job and career path. Maybe they haven’t thought it through. As a leader, you can help them think through their plan and next steps.

 If budgets are tight, help them look for a mentor or protégé program within your organization or an industry association. This can be a cost-effective way to support leadership and career development while delivering a great deal of value.

 A great place to start is the CREW National Capital Committee’s Connecting Future Leaders mentorship program. I am the facilitator for this program since its inception and we have graduated more than 100 women over the last few years. If a company is considering a structured mentorship program, I would love to share some of our statistics & successes.