Leading millennials

Many employees experience in these busy times a a lot of uncontrollable stress. That’s a shame since employees perform less or even drop out due to stress related issues. Because young professionals have to hold up many signs,  uncontrollable stress  effects them the most. 

‘Mental Capital’ and ‘Authentic intelligence’ are Dutch books written by Elke Geraerts, a very well known neuropsychologist. Elke  is thoroughly  informed about  all latest developments and  all areas of the brain. She knows how the brain works and what to do in making and keeping the brain healthy.   Through her company ‘Better Minds at Work’ she advises on how to prevent or reduce stress. 

Does the brain of a millennial work differently?A few months ago I  saw Elke as a keynote speaker at an UWV congress and thought: I would like to speak with her about how you can guide the best  young professionals as a supervisor or leader. I wanted to know more about how their brain works and about  her knowledge in how to cope as a leader or manager with young professionals. 

More Creativity During our FaceTime meeting, Elke emphasizes the importance of ‘intergenerational leadership’. This means:  having different generations working together (in the workplace). This results in more intensive collaborations and leads to more creativity. ‘But you need to know in advance what the ambitions of the young professionals are’ said Elke. According to recent research these could be:

  • Autonomy (the ability to make your own choices and experience growth)
  • Work-life balance, focusing on ‘life’. This in contrast to a 40-year-old who focusses on ‘work’
  • An inspiring manager. A role model or inspirational manager determines the meaning within the organization. A young professional is curious about the ‘why’ of activities and choices made within the organization. A “good” role model explains the why and elaborates on the way. 


Multitasking and decrease in brain cells 

Does the brain of young professionals work differently through digitization, internet and social media? According to Elke, this is nonsense. A study on multitasking and single tasking has discovered that the prefrontal cortex is less developed in people who like to do more things at the same time. 

The prefrontal cortex provides: impulse control, empathy, willpower etc. These are important for good health. The prefrontal cortex continues to grow up to around 25 years. Among the multitaskers around us, this means that willpower, concentration and empathy are not yet fully developed around the age of 25. Good to know as a manager of these young professionals, don’t you think? 

More often and shorter
Young professionals love ‘short and regular’. So: if you speak and or coach a young professional: do so at agreed times, more often and shorter. How does this fit in the bigger picture? Elke explains: ‘For managers this means: setting short-term goals, because you stimulate motivation and performance and explain what the higher goal is. 

They are the new hippies
According to Elke, we are talking about a new generation of hippies. Young professionals want to work to live and not live to work. In addition to income, it’s also about meaning and purpose: ‘why do I do this and which choices do I need to make?’. As a manager it’s important to pay attention to that meaning. The ‘why’ ensures that we can make choices regarding health, life and the environment, regarding our work environments. In recent years we’ve been working with flex spaces which can often be found in open spaces. It’s important to realize that those spaces are specifically designed to be able to socialize, brainstorm, focus and to work hard. Creating different experiences is important so that learning and performance come first.  In her latest book, Elke emphasizes the human side of authentic intelligence. These are the unique qualities that every person can optimize. For example, creativity, trust, imagination, abstract thinking, growth mindset and teamwork belong to these qualities. These qualities are underused by young professionals. If organizations, leaders,  pay more attention to develop these qualities, you create a happy working atmosphere which leads to happy young professionals. 

The domino effect
Recent research by CBS (2018, Netherlands) shows that 18 percent of the young professionals suffer from stress. Other figures show that absence costs 250 euros per day per employee.  If an employee drops out due to stress, a domino effect is created. Workload at other colleges increases which leads to more stress for them. Fortunately, more and more organizations are actively working with and on the health of their employees. This has become a necessary step looking at the rapidly growing costs of mental illness. Boardrooms within organizations realize that adjustments are necessary to guarantee the employability of employees in the long run. Elke likes a proactive approach: she discusses the different effects of stress for different generations. What can you do to make your company ‘burn-out proof?’. Elke’s story corresponds to how I work as a coach and advisor. Want to know more ? Contact Hans Prinsen, EMC Performance. 

#millennials #coaching #performance #lead