No one can adapt to changes better than millennials. From tackling technology to siphoning off social media, this generation is synonymous to "change management."
From Kodak to Hummer to Blockbuster, ineffective change management has caused many a company to fail. These failures not only result from outside threats like technology or competition but also inside weaknesses like failure to visualize, analyze and change.
Brad Karsh of Chicago-based JB Training Solutions has a solution. During the Society for Human Resource Management Annual Conference and Exposition, he advised businesses to turn to millennials for leading and embracing changes. “Millennials have grown up changing all the time. They deal better with change, because it’s almost in their DNA,” he said.
Let us see some lessons businesses can learn from millennials for better change management.
1. Start with yourself.
One of the biggest mistakes you can make as a company is not be completely ready for change yourself and yet trying to implement change. But as Stan Slap said, “You can’t sell it outside if you can’t sell it inside.”
Millennials have grown up in an ever-changing environment. From fashion trends to technology innovations, this generation has been on a constant rollercoaster ride. This makes them ready for change in the truest sense of the word.
Millennials are open and flexible. They will talk, talk and talk until they have a clear picture of the matter. This makes them more approachable and amenable. Every member of your company -- from directors to the office boy -- needs to be attuned to any new developments around them, be receptive to changes and stay agile like millennials. Though it sounds clichéd, remember, the change must first come from within.
2. Make the change stress-free.
Change management can be very stressful. Whether pivoting from one business to another or restructuring your startup, things can get incredibly messy with employee resistance, unclear vision, process disruption, etc. To make things worse, your competition can take advantage of the chaos your company is in. Again, take cue from millennials, and use available technologies to make the transitions as smooth and stress-free as possible.
One such example can be seen in the case of healthcare and medical institutions. Since 2004, healthcare and medical organizations are under tremendous pressure to continually adapt and comply with HIPAA regulations. A few years back, everyone was skeptical and in denial of HIPAA. Knowledge about it was limited, healthcare administrators were tearing out their hair over the whole debacle, and there were penalties galore.
However, all the fear and negativity surrounding HIPAA slowly ebbed as more and more healthcare and medical institutions started adopting software fixes to keep up. So there’s a two-fold lesson here: 1) use technology, and 2) prepare for the worst.
3. Prepare for the worst.
Towers Watson’s 2013 Change and Communication return on investment (ROI) survey found that only 55 percent of businesses involved in change-management initiatives meet their initial objectives.
Effective change management encompasses implementing changes within time and budget and meeting all technological, business and human objectives. However a lot of statistics prove that it is not often the case. Despite having experienced change masters and transition experts on board, companies must be ready to face problems later on.
Again, follow a clichéd maxim -- expect the best, prepare for the worst. Millennials have been doing the same. They were promised the best jobs, and they had the best tools and the best innovations in their formative years. They studied hard, got the best degrees -- they are the most educated generation in the history -- and came into the job market hoping to get the best jobs. However, today, they are riddled by unemployment, student-loan debt and poverty.
So how did they overcome these problems? Millennials adapted to this turn of events by embracing change wholeheartedly. A lot of them stay with their parents, don’t marry or have children. Many of them have taken up diminutive jobs or did a career pivot. If anyone knows how to expect the best and prepare for the worst, it is this generation.
4. Have an insatiable wanderlust.
Millennials are also known as the wanderlust generation. They are in constant mode of exploration, whether it is mountain climbing, skiing, trying out the latest gadgets or devouring travel content, they try to satisfy their wonder in various ways.
Tim Fargo, CEO of TweetJukebox, a Twitter app with a wistful name, identifies why they are so. “Millennials’ sense of exploration comes from lack of insecurity. Until you cross the bridge of your insecurities, you can't begin to explore your possibilities,” says Tim, who has an all-millennial development staff but is himself a Gen X-er.
Millennials are more secure than their predecessors in terms of confidence about their future and career. Change management will become incredibly easier if businesses develop this same sense of care-free wanderlust. The ability to think and go beyond the usual is what businesses need to keep up today.
Millennials are in every way the game-changers or path-breakers who can show the way ahead to businesses. From leading innovation to driving changes, this generation is a shining example of revolution and transformation. And it is high time we embrace their values and culture, not just superficially (being on Snapchat) but comprehensively (understanding their values and thought process) to make businesses better.