Teachable Moment: Seeking Directions

SCENARIO

Two ladies dressed in golf attire approach the clubhouse near the edge of the course. Although they are dressed for the part, they are guests at the club and do not know their way around. They ask a young employee for directions to the driving range. Despite the newcomer-type question, the employee references other locations in the club’s property to get to the range, which is somewhat far away from the clubhouse. The ladies drive off in a cart only to return to the same area by the clubhouse seeking directions again. A manager approaches them and then provides a map and much more digestible directions. She apologizes to the ladies, “I don’t know what’s going on with him– his head is in the clouds today!” in reference to her junior colleague.

TAKEAWAYS

  • Never make assumptions about your customers. Regardless of how someone looks or acts, s/he may not be familiar at all with your business or how it works. If the customer is repeat, of course one should acknowledge that; however, it is particularly important to be thorough with new customers to form a positive first impression. If you’re not sure, spend time with the customer(s) and determine their level of familiarity.
  • No one likes to feel lost. When answering a question about directions, it’s always best to take the customer to his/her destination yourself. If this is not possible for whatever reason, ensure that the directions are very clear and appropriate for someone who does not know the lay of the land at all. Your customers are smart people, but clarity is of paramount importance.
  • Always show solidarity with your colleagues. Never, ever throw anyone “under the bus.” Not even in the context of a joke. Customers are impressed when employees work together in sync– something that the Ladies and Gentlemen of The Ritz-Carlton do everyday. You’re all on the same team– apologize to the customer, yes, but coach your colleague in private. 

Join us for a one-day symposium, “An Introduction to Service Excellence,”on October 13, 2016 and hear about the strategies and concepts that produce a sustainable culture of service excellence at The Ritz-Carlton. Limited table reservations also available for groups.

Etiquette & Engagement: Resilient

Imagine if every person acted like a lady or gentleman…..

Etiquette Tip: Ladies and Gentlemen are resilient when working as part of a team.

Teamwork drives many of today’s workplaces regardless of setting or industry, which is why it’s critical to make sure it’s done in the most effective way possible. A key competency of an effective team is the ability to move together in the same direction without being sidetracked by obstacles. Showing resilience while working with others will help your team make more effective decisions and make progress at an appropriate rate. As an individual, you must ensure that you are open to exploring others’ ideas and action plans and not work only to advance your own agenda. Although you may think what you’ve presented is the best idea or strategy, it’s important to be resilient in the event that your contributions are ultimately not put in place. Staying fluid in this context will allow you to refocus quickly and find ways that you can support next steps and show your team that you are ready to continue providing your insights and energy going forward. The whole team must also be able to bounce back from any setbacks and have the perseverance to find new ways around obstacles. Expressing resilience will ultimately save you and your colleagues a lot of energy, which can then be rechanneled into producing the best product and services you can provide.

The motto of The Ritz-Carlton is “We are Ladies and Gentlemen serving Ladies and Gentlemen.” This motto sets a tone of goodwill and grace for all.

Servant Leadership: Humility

Each month The Ritz-Carlton Leadership Center (RCLC) asks leadership experts questions about servant leadership. Our topic for July is how servant leaders express humility. This month’s servant-leader experts are:

  • Dr. Holly Ferraro, Co-Author of Leading with Humility and Associate Professor at Seattle University Albers School of Business and Economics
  • Paul Klaassen, founder of Sunrise Senior Living

RCLC: Leaders are often portrayed as “champions” and lauded for their achievements. However, humility is a key aspect to servant leadership. What are the advantages of being a humble leader?

Dr. Holly Ferraro: The key to understanding the advantages of humble leadership is connected to the three components of humility. First, humble leaders understand their strengths and weaknesses. This knowledge provides leaders with a more accurate view of where they need professional development or what kinds of people they should partner with to achieve goals. Second, humble leaders are keenly aware of their relationships with others and express empathy and respect for others. Humble leaders aren’t simply self-interested. They know they are a part of a community. The leadership advantage of a relationship orientation is that such leaders enter into the emotions of others and are able to regulate their own emotions to be less reactive and more effective in handling others emotions and concerns. Finally, humble leaders practice transcendence, that is, they have a sense of being connected to something bigger than themselves or even their organization. Humble leaders are able to consider multiple perspectives during decision making rather than being blinded by solely the economic or market needs of their firm. Humble leaders can see problems holistically and work constructively with others, even with those who disagree, to generate a larger number of possible solutions.     

Paul Klaassen: Effective leaders are often inspiring and effective because they are passionate about their cause and mission. One trait of humble servant leaders is that they are “all in” and that is one thing that demonstrates that the leader is sincere, and passionate. Humble leaders also don’t spend time worrying about being lauded for their achievements. Indeed, this is not a motivator for them. In today’s cynical, self-promoting world, a leader that seeks recognition is rarely going to be effective. This is something a humble leader already knows and thankfully doesn’t crave anyway.

RCLC: Have you found that humble leaders are better at both giving and receiving feedback?

Paul Klaassen: One reason humble leaders are so effective is that they don’t “take all the oxygen in the room.” They listen. They ask questions. They consider other’s opinions important because by definition humble leaders don’t consider themselves more important than anyone else. Of course, these are also traits that people find compelling in a leader, and the information the leader gains by practicing them is invaluable.

RCLC: Can leaders express humility and still be seen as confident and assertive?

Dr. Holly Ferraro: Definitely! One of the things my co-authors, Rob Neilsen and Jennifer Marrone, focused on in our book, Leading with Humility, is clarifying the definition of humility. All too often people think of humility as meekness. As I stated earlier, humble leaders are aware of their weaknesses, but they are also aware of their strengths.  Therefore, they are able to act confidently because they aren’t afraid to admit that they have areas where they have deficits. They don’t mask their weaknesses because they know that they have areas of strength. They can act out of their strengths rather than fearing the need to appear strong in every area. One of the leaders we discuss in our book as a humble leader is William George, former CEO of Medtronic. George shares how he survived a crisis during his early career by remembering that he lacked experience but his team did not. He did not cower or abdicate leadership because of a lack of experience. Instead, he freely acknowledged his weaknesses and led from his strengths.

Paul Klaassen: Expressing humility is not at odds with being confident or assertive. Showing appreciation, asking questions, focusing on mission, setting a high moral bar, demanding high standards of service and excellence are all ways that leaders can express humility.

RCLC: The Ritz-Carlton Motto is “Ladies and Gentleman serving Ladies and Gentlemen,” which equalizes not only our employees to our customers, but also employees amongst each other. It also leads to a flat structure approach rather than a hierarchical organizational. Is it more difficult for leaders to express humility when they are part of a hierarchical organization? 

Dr. Holly Ferraro: Our research did not explore the influence of hierarchy on humility (or expressions of humility). However, I would argue that hierarchical organizations may be more in need of leaders who exercise humility than flat structures. Why? Leaders in tall organizations are often far removed from customers or other key stakeholders.  Therefore, they must rely on empowered followers to carry out tasks and manage important relationships. Research on leadership has found that followers of humble leaders are more engaged with their jobs than leaders who do not exercise humility. In our work, we propose that followers of leaders exercising humility are more likely to identify with the leader and the vision and demonstrate willingness to engage in acts of self-sacrifice such as going above and beyond to meet customer expectations.  Bradley Owen and David Hekman studied leaders in a variety of contexts and found leaders who express humility become role models for followers. Humble leaders model teachability and seem to let followers know, through their actions, it is okay to learn and grow. If you are a part of a hierarchical organization, then you should think about the benefits of exercising humility in leadership!

Paul Klaassen: I believe servant leadership is an excellent management style for organizations like The Ritz-Carlton or Sunrise Senior Living. Indeed, any organization that demands high levels of customer service and attentiveness would benefit from having humble leaders influencing their culture. Once this “habit” of humility is part of an organization’s culture—the humble leader will find they can have influence across the organization in a way that allows for faster, more nimble decision-making. Humble leaders and teams don’t spend time or energy worrying about hierarchical rules or bureaucracy, so flat organizational structures suit them well. 

Join us for a one-day symposium, “An Introduction to Service Excellence,” on October 13, 2016, and hear about the strategies and concepts that produce a sustainable culture of service excellence at The Ritz-Carlton. 

Etiquette & Engagement: Unruffled

Imagine if every person acted like a lady or gentleman…..

Etiquette Tip: Ladies and Gentlemen are unruffled when out in public.

Let’s face it: We’ve all got a lot going on. Keeping up with family, friends and taking care of your home, staying on top of your school or professional work (or both) takes a lot of time and energy—and you’re doing it all simultaneously. It’s easy to allow frustration in one area of your multifaceted life spill over into your other activities; however, a lady or gentleman knows that he or she must remain unruffled throughout the day, especially when out in public. Becoming visibly frustrated or upset disrupts those around you and does not uphold the respectable reputation a lady or gentleman so carefully maintains. A best practice is to remain composed and focus your energy on resolving any challenges you might encounter instead of wasting energy being upset. If you are working through an issue you experience with a product or service, be empathetic toward the person with whom you are conversing. You will accomplish far more by being calm and speaking firmly than you will by making a scene and shouting. Maintaining tact demonstrates maturity and grace that sets an example for those around you. Be the person who demonstrates what to do—not what not to do. 

The motto of The Ritz-Carlton is “We are Ladies and Gentlemen serving Ladies and Gentlemen.” This motto sets a tone of goodwill and grace for all.

Servant Leadership: Empathy

Each month The Ritz-Carlton Leadership Center (RCLC) asks leadership experts questions about servant leadership. Our topic for June is how servant leaders use empathy with employees. This month’s servant-leader experts are:

  • Abigail Marsh, Associate Professor of Psychology, Georgetown University
  • Mark Crowley, Workplace thought leader and author of Lead from the Heart

RCLC: What are some tactics you’ve used to understand employees who may be tougher to access?

Mark Crowley: Teams thrive on diversity — not uniformity — and leaders who understand this will intentionally hire people with varied backgrounds and personalities. Hiring an introverted chef or massage therapist, for example, might prove to be a very wise move!

The best advice I can give to any manager is that not everyone operates from the same map of the world as you do. Just because some employees quickly warm up to you shouldn’t lead you to think everyone will.

So if you find yourself struggling to connect with an employee, be patient with them — and yourself. Find ways to work closely with “tougher to access” employees; just spending one-on-one time with them can help build the trust that will help many of them to come out of their shell. I’ve also found that giving people space, and allowing them to come to you when they’re ready, leads to the most sustainable kind of trust you can ever imagine achieving.

RCLC: When leaders are empathetic, how can they manage an employee who might try to take advantage of a caring boss?

Abigail Marsh: Being caring doesn’t have to mean being an easy target. One of the oldest and most durable findings in psychology is that cooperative interpersonal relationships flourish when people adhere to what is called “the norm of reciprocity.” The norm requires that interpersonal encounters start from the assumption that both players are trustworthy actors who will help each other out when needed. But if either person violates the other’s trust, it is appropriate for there to be a consequence, such as the withdrawal of future trust or assistance. For example, an empathetic boss might offer the employee who has just experienced a distressing life event some extra time off. To foster a strong relationship, the employee might later reciprocate by contributing extra and unasked-for help on a project. Employees who ask for repeated favors without reciprocating should not be surprised to find their bosses less willing to extend assistance to them over time.

RCLC: What advice would you give to leaders who aren’t naturally empathetic or would like to express more empathy?

Abigail Marsh: The crucial components of empathy are simple awareness of and caring about others’ emotional and mental states. Often when people are upset or in distress, simply acknowledging those feelings can make a difference. Something as simple as “I can see you are really upset,” or, “You seem worried — anything I can do to help?” can forge a connection because it demonstrates that the speaker understands and cares about how the listener is feeling. This is all that is meant by empathy. Recognizing others’ emotional states comes naturally to most people, as long as they take the time to pay attention to others’ emotional language and nonverbal cues. But even people who are less naturally in tune with others’ emotions can learn to pay deliberate attention to signs of distress like a furrowed brow, compressed lips, or a voice that sounds tenser and higher-pitched than usual.

Mark Crowley: Traditional leadership theory teaches us that expressions of empathy or compassion toward employees are characteristic of weak leaders — people who do not drive high performance.

So if we grew up working for bosses who rarely displayed thoughtfulness or intentional care in their interactions with workers, it’s not unreasonable that we would model that same behavior in how we manage our own teams.

But mounds of scientific research is now emerging that proves qualities like kindness, concern and empathy are actually leadership strengths — not weaknesses. The more human we are with people, in other words, the greater their engagement and commitment.

I mention this because I think what most of us really need is permission to display empathy with the people we manage — and to authentically demonstrate that we care about them personally and what’s going on in their lives. The evidence is clear that we are all wired as human beings to be empathetic, and only hold back because we think it’s inappropriate to display it in the workplace.

So if you need an incentive to show your people some empathy, know this: when you withhold it, people will see you as being a self-interested leader — and you’ll drive many people away.

RCLC: The Employee Promise at The Ritz-Carlton states that employees are our “most important resource.” How can leaders make employees feel genuinely cared for each day?

Abigail Marsh: People tend to feel cared for when they are cared for. Genuine caring is hard to fake. Genuinely caring people tend to prioritize the welfare of others, even others who are not personally close to them. They tend to assume that most people are doing their best and try to adopt an understanding approach even toward undesirable behavior. They pay attention when others are suffering or in distress and try to help or console them with words or gestures. Classic, caring gestures like a hand on the shoulder or an embrace are simple, ancient and powerful — even our chimpanzee cousins use them to console other members of their group. They work just as well with humans.

Mark Crowley: There’s a huge risk in saying (out loud) that employees are The Ritz- Carlton’s “most important resources” simply because there are so many ways the organization and its leaders can break that promise. And should employees ever come to believe that this pledge is in any way hollow or insincere, their trust in management will likely become irrecoverable.

So each day, managers have the opportunity — and the obligation — to intentionally make deposits into the emotional bank accounts (as Stephen Covey called them) of every person on their team. And some of the smallest gestures can have the biggest impact: Complimenting them for how they handled a difficult guest, thanking them for their initiative and cooperation with other employees, letting them leave work early on a day you know will greatly help them — giving them an unexpected and challenging assignment.

My advice: As best as you can, determine what your employees need in any given moment (e.g., encouragement, trust, patience or guidance) and give it to them. If you do, they’ll know you care. 

Join us for a one-day symposium, “An Introduction to Service Excellence,” on October 13, 2016, and hear about the strategies and concepts that produce a sustainable culture of service excellence at The Ritz-Carlton. 

Significant Stat: Coaching and Feedback

57% of CEOs rely primarily on coaching and feedback for developing leaders. (Source)

Advice from Alexandra Valentin, Corporate Director, Culture Transformation at The Ritz-Carlton Leadership Center:

When coaching and mentoring are done in an effective, meaningful way, the talent of a leader and the company are strengthened. No CEO, President or Executive leader can do this alone. They need a strong leadership team that not only volunteers its best, but is also dedicated to supporting and developing others. Leaders trust CEOs to provide them with opportunities for learning and growing, and leaders place an increasing value on the amount and quality of feedback and coaching when deciding to remain in an organization. The Employee Promise at The Ritz-Carlton includes the commitment to “nurture and maximize talent to the benefit of each individual and the company.” Bob Kharazmi, Global Officer, Worldwide Operations at The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, recognizes the mutual benefit of developing talent. He asserts, “When anyone looks back on his or her career, the biggest accomplishment he or she will see is how many lives they impacted in a positive way.” 

Join us for a one-day symposium, “An Introduction to Service Excellence,” on October 13, 2016, and hear about the strategies and concepts that produce a sustainable culture of service excellence at The Ritz-Carlton. Sign-up by June 30th to take advantage of the early-bird rate

Etiquette & Engagement: Classy

Imagine if every person acted like a lady or gentleman…..

Etiquette Tip: Ladies and gentlemen are classy when receiving feedback.

Even when you value feedback—hearing it is not always pleasant. Constructive feedback—whether from friends, colleagues or customers—can cause anyone to feel vulnerable or defensive. Being told about your shortcomings can be deflating. On the other hand, positive feedback can be challenging to hear as well. You may feel the compliments are undeserved or that you are receiving sole credit for a group effort. Even when the praise has been rightfully earned, you may feel too humble to accept the kind words.  However, a lady or gentleman should accept positive and constructive feedback with deference and class. Think of feedback as a gift. If someone gives you a gift—whether it’s a gift you’ll treasure or a gift you don’t like at all—don’t you accept the present with grace? Don’t you acknowledge and express gratitude for the gift? You wouldn’t openly disparage the gift to the giver. At The Ritz-Carlton, we are committed to seeking “opportunities to innovate and improve.” You can only improve if you are open to feedback and willing to recognize shortcomings. You may hear feedback that lacks true insight or is irrelevant to you or your organization. However, when you express receptivity and respond with class, your friends, colleagues and customers have the opportunity to contribute to your growth. 

The motto of The Ritz-Carlton is “We are Ladies and Gentlemen serving Ladies and Gentlemen.” This motto sets a tone of goodwill and grace for all.

Servant Leadership: Persuasion

Each month The Ritz-Carlton Leadership Center (RCLC) asks leadership experts questions about servant leadership. Our topic for May is how servant leaders use persuasion rather than an authoritarian style of leadership. This month’s servant-leader experts are:

  • Daniel Pink, New York Times bestselling author and named as one of the top 10 business thinkers in the world in 2015
  • Tanveer Naseer, Award-winning leadership writer and keynote speaker

RCLC: A servant leader tends to be less authoritarian and more persuasive or influential. What are the pros and cons of each of these methods?

Daniel Pink: The problem with authoritarian leadership is that it’s a form of control. And human beings have only two reactions to control. We comply or we defy. But what most leaders really want from the people on their teams is for them to be engaged and committed. The way to do that, in many cases, is for the leader to serve the team by providing opportunities for self-direction, helping people make progress, and allowing them to make a difference in the world or a contribution to others.

Tanveer Naseer: One pro that comes with favoring influence over using authority to lead people is that your focus is less on you and more on how do you connect what matters to those you lead with what you need to accomplish. The con that leaders need to be careful of, though, is falling into the trap that in order to gain influence we need to be popular.

Remember, what people need is trust in your integrity to do what you say you’ll do and how you’ll support them to succeed. In so doing, you’ll be able to influence others because those you lead will better understand where you’re coming from. And even if they don’t understand the long view, they will trust that you have their needs and their organization’s best interests at heart.

RCLC: What lessons have you learned or have you observed that have affected how you persuade your colleagues?

Daniel Pink:Perhaps the biggest is attunement. I’m not sure we naturally take another person’s perspective, but I’ve found it’s a key to persuasion. So I try to get out of my own head and see things from the other person’s point of view. What are they thinking? What are their interests? How can I find common ground?

Tanveer Naseer: One of the lessons I’ve learned about how to persuade others is that you can’t approach it as though it’s a zero-sum game; that one of you has to lose for the other to win. If you want to persuade those you lead, you need to understand what matters to them. What are their pain points and concerns, and how does your proposal impact or address them.

The easiest thing a leader can do is fall back on their title or position as the reason why others should follow their decisions. While your employees may fall in line, they won’t be fully invested in the decision and consequently, they’re not bringing their best efforts to the table.

That’s why we need to be able to persuade those under our care by connecting what matters to them to what matters to our organization.

RCLC: If a servant leader has a strong vision about the direction the organization should take, can the leader move forward without consensus? Or will that undermine trust and influence in the future?

Daniel Pink: It depends. Sometimes consensus is the enemy of excellence. Wait too long to get everyone on board—and the train might leave without you. So the context is key here. There are certain high-stakes decisions that require everyone feeling comfortable and agreeing with the course of action. But in many other cases, it makes more sense to have a robust discussion and make sure everyone’s voice is truly heard — and then pick the best path, even if some disagree.

Tanveer Naseer: I think leaders can absolutely move forward with their vision if they don’t have consensus — if they are doing so because they know it’s the right path to take and not simply to serve one’s ego. We have to remember that at times it’s hard for our employees to see the long view because their focus is rightfully on the day-to-day. As such, our decisions might not seem like the best course of action.

But if we’ve demonstrated that our focus is not on being right, but on doing right by those we lead, moving forward without having consensus won’t undermine our influence in the long run because as things progress, your employees will begin to better understand why you had to take the stand you did. And that will help you to build trust going forward in the decisions you need to make on their behalf.

RCLC: Is persuasion a “one-size-fits-all” approach, or do you have to modify your approach depending on the audience?

Tanveer Naseer: As with any type of communication, it’s critical that you shape your message to fit your audience. And the reason for this is simple — it demonstrates both a respect for your audience, but also a deeper understanding of who they are and what are their needs.

When people see that you’re making the effort to better understand them and what they care about, it becomes easier to persuade them to follow your lead because they’ll see that you’re approaching this from a common perspective and communicating in a fashion that reflects what they need to hear to get on board with your vision or idea.

RCLC: At The Ritz-Carlton, leaders are encouraged to “lead by walking around” and therefore, have regular face time with their Ladies and Gentlemen. Does persuasion work for leaders who spend most of their time sitting at their desk and in meetings?

Daniel Pink:  It probably works less well than it would if they got out there and mixed with employees, customers, clients, members, or whatever stakeholders they might have. Business writer Tom Peters got this right three decades ago. He called it Management by Walking Around, and I can see why it’s used at The Ritz-Carlton. The more you interact, the more you know and are known — and, in general, that can only enhance your persuasive powers.

Tanveer Naseer: I can’t imagine how leaders who spend most of their time in meetings or at their desk can be persuasive for the simple fact that they’re spending most of their time on things that matter to them, but not necessarily on the things that matter to those they lead.

Too many times, I’ve seen communal devolve into an arthritic culture of “Anyone can say no but no one can say yes.” Just because we involve a wide group of people in the decision does not mean that everyone will get their wayit only means that we are dedicated to hearing everyone’s opinion.

It’s also important to note that persuasion only works if there’s a relationship between the two parties based on understanding and respect. If you’re not spending a good part of your day walking around getting to know those you lead and their realities, you won’t have much influence as your employees don’t really know or understand what you’re about and what your real objectives are.

So while we might think that we can’t afford to do it, the truth is if you want to influence others, you need to get out and engage with those under your care.

The Ritz-Carlton Leadership Center offers advisory services, courses and presentations to organizations that wish to benchmark the award-winning business practices of The Ritz-Carlton. Your organization can learn about The Ritz-Carlton methodology for customer service, employee engagement and leadership development. We also guide organizations through a multi-step process in order to achieve sustainable culture transformation.

Etiquette & Engagement: Composed

Imagine if every person acted like a lady or gentleman…..

Etiquette Tip: Ladies and gentlemen are composed when in a leadership role.

A record-high day for your company in the stock market. A negative story in the news that just won’t go away. Your boss just informed you of a reorganization. All of these scenarios invoke an emotion, be it positive or negative, in your employees, and leaders need to stay calm and set the tone for the office. As a leader, you have an elevated level of responsibility and accountability that requires you to maintain composure through the ups and downs. Dr. Sigal Barsade, a professor at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, notes in her article “Emotional Contagion” at Work that executives can “create more positive team dynamics, increase performance, and decrease turnover by consciously managing their own emotions and the emotions they want to spread.” Whether your organization is facing a global economic downturn or a struggle within a particular work team, leaders should remain calm in order to maintain the confidence and trust of their employees. A lack of composure on the leadership team can increase employee stress and prolong problem resolution. At The Ritz-Carlton, our Employee Promise emphasizes trust, honesty, respect, integrity and commitment. These qualities lead to greater professionalism and composure among all of our staff, but especially our leaders who need to model our standards for their teams. 

The motto of The Ritz-Carlton is “We are Ladies and Gentlemen serving Ladies and Gentlemen.” This motto sets a tone of goodwill and grace for all.

8 Ways to Develop Millennial Leaders

The following guest post was written by Shelley Danner, a nonprofit director who develops millennial (emerging) leaders. 

Supervising, motivating and developing millennial talent is an essential part of leading a team in almost any workplace or organization today. The challenge is how to keep these next-generation leaders engaged and passionate. Here are some best practices to integrate into your work culture to ensure that millennials thrive and add value to your team.

1) Convey an expectation of results.

Managers expect their teams to work hard and produce results. Likewise, millennials desire to feel a sense of accomplishment. As they launch their careers, it will be both to their benefit and the organization’s to clearly understand the responsibilities of a given role. Providing well-defined, ongoing metrics will let them know what it requires to successfully fulfill each task, and for high-achievers, what it takes to go above and beyond.

2) Share the “why.

Emerging leaders are purpose-driven, and therefore are more motivated if they understand the context in which they work. When millennials know how they fit both within their specific function and team, as well as in the organization at-large, they have a sense of clarity that fuels their efforts. Understanding the big picture brings commitment to the mission and vision of the organization. It’s helpful to continuously weave in “the why”—whether it’s the thinking behind operations and tasks or goals and strategies.  When millennials have meaning, they flourish.

3) Foster a mindset of entrepreneurial thinking and creativity.

Brimming with ideas, millennials have a keen interest in innovation and being agents of change within organizations. Teams need individuals who can not only bring creative ideas to the table, but also can sell their ideas and deliver. Teaching and using tools such as design thinking and lean start-up principles can be powerful ways to catalyze innovation, and are valued by millennials.

4) Listen in order to support career development.

What do early-career hires need to learn, grow, lead and succeed in your organization? Skill building and process training are necessary to fill in knowledge gaps and navigate internal systems. Beyond that, observe what motivates them and support the growth of their individual career interests. Listen to how they want to learn and provide a combination of on-the-job training, coaching/mentoring, group-based classes and online learning to suit their style.

5) Give them a voice.

Opportunities to participate in multidisciplinary teams, focus groups, committees, task forces, and special events will keep millennials active and interested in their professional environment. Allowing millennials to contribute to decision-making allows them to feel clearly valued, and adding the millennial perspective is part of having an inclusive workforce culture.  Furthermore, millennials will be more invested if they are supported in strengthening and expanding their networks and connections along with chances to practice effective communication skills both with executives and peers.

6) Offer ways to engage in the community.

Millennials are accustomed to volunteering in numerous ways already, through student organizations and extracurricular involvement with nonprofits. Having a work-related way to give back to the community—whether through service days, tutoring programs, skills-based volunteering or other options—will cultivate a sense of passion and belonging. The key is ensuring that millennials feel supported to engage in these activities and that the opportunities are viable and ongoing and not just company rhetoric.

7) Model how to give and receive feedback.

Millennials like to know where they stand, and providing clear feedback will help them gauge and know how they are performing. Often supervisors don’t find the time to give feedback, and sometimes millennials don’t know how to ask. Teaching millennials how to receive feedback can be overlooked, yet is very important to developing strong leaders.

8) Create opportunities to reflect.

Amid the fast pace and ever-present technology in both our professional and personal lives, effective leaders see the importance of taking time to reflect. Modeling this for millennials (i.e., taking tech-free breaks, pausing before a meeting, journaling about 3/6/12-month career progress, etc.), will help to instill a practice of reflection. Developing this skill early on will positively benefit productivity as workers gain a deeper awareness of how to be fully present and engaged.

Developing millennial leaders requires a multifaceted, holistic and intentional approach. It also entails being open to a dynamic, customized developmental path based on these concepts that suits the needs of each individual to best support their growth. The effort will be a win for managers, millennials and the organizations within which they work. 

The Ritz-Carlton Leadership Center offers advisory services, courses and presentations to organizations that wish to benchmark the award-winning business practices of The Ritz-Carlton. Your organization can learn about The Ritz-Carlton methodology for customer service, employee engagement and leadership development. We also guide organizations through a multi-step process in order to achieve sustainable culture transformation.