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.

Significant Stat: Leadership Lessons

Successful executives learn their most important leadership lessons through:

  • 70% Challenging assignments (job changes and stretch assignments);

  • 20% Other people (bosses, coaches, mentors, etc.) and

  • 10% Formal courses and books. (source)

Advice from Jeff Hargett, Senior Corporate Director, Culture Transformation at The Ritz-Carlton Leadership Center:

Learning is a life-long journey. “I learn best by doing.” That’s a statement I’ve heard countless times from those I’ve trained along life’s journey. Isn’t the ultimate goal of learning to be able to do the thing that we learned? Of course it is. So it is no wonder that the research from the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL) shows that successful executives need to actively apply the lessons they’ve learned. At The Ritz-Carlton, our Employee Promise states, “By applying trust, honesty, respect, integrity and commitment, we nurture and maximize talent….” I often ask students which of these words is most important. The most important word is applying. If we can’t ultimately use and demonstrate what we have learned, have we fully learned it? Whether the task is physical or intellectual, we must be able to apply the information we’ve acquired through a formal class or from our boss, coach or mentor. The CCL article also provides very interesting data around the impact of culture from various countries in the learning process. We may each learn in our own way, but our end goal should be to make learning relevant by putting it into practice. 

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.

Five Ways Millennials Can Boost Their Engagement

The following post was written by our Millennial colleague and 2012 Olympian, Caroline Queen. Caroline currently serves as the Senior Program Specialist for The Ritz-Carlton Leadership Center.

Fellow Millennials, we’ve all had days when we aren’t 100 percent engaged, and hopefully, most of us realize this is a problem. Why? At The Ritz-Carlton, we count on our employees—known as Ladies and Gentlemen—to be fully engaged and passionate about our brand. How can we expect our guests, residents and other patrons to be excited about our brand if we cannot demonstrate the same ourselves? Although each of us experiences ups and downs, there are ways to boost your engagement each day. Here are five ideas for you to try.

1) Think about your function versus purpose

Most of us start at fairly entry-level positions. Let’s say you’re working in the reception area of your office. Perhaps your day-to-day functions of greeting visitors, providing information, maybe ensuring supplies are stocked or answering the phone are not quite what you have in mind for your ideal job after studying so hard at school. However, you’re not “just going to sit there” as John Baldoni put it in the Harvard Business Review (HBR). It’s key to consider the deeper meaning of your actions. From the perspective of someone walking in—colleague or client—you are the welcoming committee and gatekeeper. You have the privilege of providing a warm welcome and anticipating needs. For example, if a client looks like he or she might be getting over a cold, you can offer to bring that person tea. Or perhaps someone has a large coat? You have the chance to literally lift the weight off his or her shoulders and store it safely. Both your colleagues and clients can enjoy the peace of mind that someone is at the door. You’re not “just a” receptionist. You’re really so much more. Furthermore, you’re building a background in the most basic of client relationship skills, which can be applied to sales, operations and really anything else.

2) See the big picture

At one point you thought it was a good idea to work for your organization (hopefully). You spent time researching the role, submitted your application and prepared for your interview. It’s possible you were attracted to the mission, vision and values of your organization even more than your actual job, but when you are focused on your daily tasks, it can be tough to feel like you’re making an impact. This is especially true at a large organization and that’s why it is very important to recognize how your efforts connect to your organization’s overall goals. At The Ritz-Carlton, our vision is to inspire life’s most meaningful journeys. Often, our Ladies and Gentlemen support this vision without even coming into contact with a guest. For example, a housekeeper notices that one of the guest room lamps has a burnt-out bulb, and the housekeeper has this fixed prior to the guests’ arrival. When the guests—grandma, grandpa and their grandkids— arrive, grandpa sits down and collects the grandkids onto the couch and reads their favorite book by the light of the lamp, which fortunately was refreshed just in time. A housekeeper’s function is to provide a clean, comfortable guest room with everything in working order. However, at the same time, the housekeeper is helping “to inspire life’s most meaningful journeys” for our guests. While this is anecdotal, a recent study by Bain and shared by HBR also emphasizes the importance of getting inspired by your company’s mission.

3) Ask questions

Your company probably has some internal resources for training and development, and you can always look outside your organization as well. Many of us have had the do I go to grad school, do I not conversation with ourselves. However, don’t forget you can learn while on the job—just by asking questions. Reach out to your counterparts in another department, office or region to compare your experience to theirs. Even if they’re going through the same processes as you, perhaps they have tips, tricks or new insights. It’s always great to learn from those who are upstream and downstream from you in workflow to get an idea of how products and services are developed and delivered. With this broader perspective, you may identify ways to improve your processes, work in teams (something we enjoy and value according to Lauren Friedman’s Forbes article) and through this networking, you may end up discovering a new direction for your career. Whatever the results, asking questions helps pique your interest and can generate excitement about discovering more.

4) Find a way to make things better every day

The word “things” is delightfully ambiguous here because there is always something you can improve. Certainly, it’s nice to find ways to communicate more effectively or streamline a process, but it doesn’t always have to be something so grand. Do you see a puddle under the coffee carafe? Clean it up. Do you notice a colleague carrying a box moving toward a door? Open it for him or her. Is one of your colleagues having issues with the computer, copier, scanner, you-name-it-tech-problem? Fix it (or at least give it a good shot). There are little things you can do each day to leave the office better than when you arrived that morning.

Showing genuine interest in other people is another way to make things better. Try to learn something about one of your colleagues, and then follow up on it. Let’s say you have a colleague who has kids: ask about them. It’s Girl Scout Cookie season, how’s that going? Are they playing soccer or joining the swim team again this year? Taking the time to grow your relationships will help make your work environment friendlier and help you become more invested in your workday.

5) Get involved with Corporate Social Responsibility

Corporate Social Responsibility programs are a huge attractor to Millennial employees. We want to do good—we want to make things better and we want our companies to do the same. The idea of spending more time at work or interrupting your workday may not always be the most palatable; however, you’ll feel great about any time you spend giving back, and you might even have the chance to get to know more about your colleagues. At The Ritz-Carlton, we could not be prouder of our CSR program, Community Footprints, which engages thousands and thousands of Ladies and Gentlemen every day. If your organization doesn’t have an organized CSR program, take it upon yourself to coordinate a volunteer day. Look at your colleagues’ skillsets and determine how you might be able to help. For example, if you work for a software company, you might suggest teaching computer skills at a school. Skills-based volunteering is in high demand, and a great way to give back to your community.

Never stop thinking

The Kenan-Flaglar Business School writes, “Millennials are continuous learners, team players, collaborators, diverse, optimistic, achievement-oriented, socially conscious and highly educated.” However, we can get caught up and frustrated if we don’t receive the feedback we want or progress through the ranks at the rate we want. Although you certainly should receive support from your managers and colleagues, it’s important to take ownership of your own employee engagement, too. You’re the only person who can always make yourself the first priority. Ensure everything you do moves you forward. This applies outside the workplace, too, according to HBR. So, go, be that sharp, bright-eyed Millennial and do your best and you’ll feel your best, too. 

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.

DOs and DON’Ts of Teamwork and Lateral Service

At The Ritz-Carlton, we emphasize the power of our employees—known as our Ladies and Gentlemen—for not only what they do individually, but also what they can do collectively. Teamwork is essential to creating a consistently excellent guest experience. Furthermore, we encourage lateral service, when a Lady or Gentleman from one team or department lends a hand in some capacity to another team or department in need of assistance. We articulate our commitment to teamwork in one of our Service Values, which states, “I create a work environment of teamwork and lateral service so that the needs of our guest and each other are met.” Here are our guidelines for effective teamwork and lateral service.

DO encourage a culture of teamwork and lateral service in your workplace

Working in teams is often the best way to produce the most innovative and highest-quality products and services to your customer. It’s important to hold teamwork as a corporate value and encourage your employees to help make their collective work the best it can be. Supporting a norm of lateral service helps ensure that no team ever gets too weighed down while another has only a light load. Balancing everyone’s efforts helps ensure a consistent customer experience. A best practice is to implement tools that make lateral service part of everyone’s regular workweek. For example, The Ritz-Carlton Shanghai, Pudong has a Lateral Service Checklist that our employees—known as our Ladies and Gentlemen—complete each week.

DON’T ignore the need for training on lateral service

Lateral service comes in all sizes: It could be as simple as helping a colleague lift a heavy box or covering a colleague’s workstation. Or, the assistance may be more complex, in which case the team receiving the help must be prepared to train their temporary teammate. At The Ritz-Carlton, is it not uncommon to see a Lady or Gentleman in finance assist Ladies and Gentlemen on the banquets team as they turn a ballroom from theater seating to round tables. The Lady or Gentleman from accounting will need at least an overview of how the room should look, what the priorities are in the process of setting the room and then the important details such as which way is the preset salad supposed to sit in relation to the seated guest? Having to take the time to train a colleague who has volunteered to do lateral service might seem counter-productive, but consider this: they already know your culture and your customers. They know the goal for product or service delivery; they just need to know the steps to get there.

DON’T ignore the need for teamwork training

While many of your employees might be naturally inclined toward teamwork, it is important to acknowledge that teamwork, like any skill, is one that can be learned and continuously improved. Making time for your teams to go through team-building activities (and ones that actually engage them) will show that your organization supports everyone’s commitment to teamwork and hopefully, by extension, lateral service.

DO communicate effectively when teamwork and lateral service is needed

Although it is always nice when a colleague from your team or another can see that you and your team need assistance, they may not recognize that need all the time. Ensure that your employees know that asking for help is encouraged when they know they have a large load and may not be able to meet the client’s expectations.

DO team up to enhance your customer experience

When you get to know your customers and their needs, you might be able to tailor or add to their experience by including a colleague or another team’s skills or services. For example, a Club Level Concierge at The Ritz-Carlton, Wolfsburg learned that two of her guests enjoy whiskey and hope to travel and learn more about it. The Concierge enlisted the help of a Bartender in the hotel to “wow” her guests with a tasting of whiskeys from around the world. Extremely impressed by the experience, the guests booked their next stay at The Ritz-Carlton, Wolfsburg during that stay.

DO encourage lateral service as a means of personal development

Often employees are interested in exploring other roles within an organization beyond their own. Encouraging lateral service can, in essence, let them “try on” a job and potentially place them on track for their next move. Even if an employee doesn’t want to actually move into another role or department, he or she still gains important perspective on how that role impacts and is impacted by his or her home team.

Commitment and Follow-Through

At The Ritz-Carlton Leadership Center, we’re fond of the saying “Teamwork makes the dream work.” But this is only as true as is your organization’s commitment to teamwork and lateral service training. Leading by example through facilitating teamwork and lateral service is a great way to demonstrate the value of the practices to your employees. Seeing leaders walk their talk will encourage them to work together to produce a better customer experience with greater efficiency and creativity. 

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.

Significant Stat: The Cost of Corporate Training

The United States spends over $70 billion on corporate training and over $130 billion worldwide. (source)

Advice from Jeff Hargett, Senior Corporate Director, Culture Transformation at The Ritz-Carlton Leadership Center:

The spending on corporate training has soared in the last few years to its highest level in the last seven years. Hallelujah!  I’m rejoicing because sadly, when the budget cost-cutting scissors come out, one of the first line items to hit the cutting room floor is Training. How do we expect employees to know how to do their jobs successfully if we don’t train them? At The Ritz-Carlton, I’ve learned countless skills from the various training classes I’ve attended both internally as well as those funded through tuition reimbursement. In Josh Bersin’s article “Spending on Corporate Training Soars,” he praises the increase in corporate training budgets and the prominent use of technology to teach our employees. Although training has transitioned from the traditional classroom (still needed, by the way, in some scenarios) to the “Just in Time” format on tablets and smart devices, training is still a vital part of the success of an organization. More important than the availability and delivery of training is its effectiveness. If training is being offered and completed but brings no value to the company or the individual, then yes, this is where the “snip, snip” of the cost-cutting scissors should be heard. Train your staff, but ensure the investment is spent wisely! 

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.

Significant Stat: Reduce Customer Effort

Avoiding negative words like “can’t,” “won’t,” or “don’t” can reduce Customer Effort Scores by 18.5%. (source)

Thoughts from Jennifer Blackmon, Corporate Director, Culture Transformation The Ritz-Carlton Leadership Center:

When it comes to the psychology of service, language can be a pivotal tool in determining the success or failure of what we call a “moment of truth” with your customer. This is especially true when facing a difficult conversation with a customer. Every nuance will make an impact. Using words that appear negative may alarm an already distressed customer. From the customer’s perspective, it may seem as if you are putting roadblocks in front of solutions. One of the service values at The Ritz-Carlton focuses on the power of projecting a positive image in language, appearance and behavior. We conduct continuous training highlighting productive and positive ways to deliver what might be perceived as bad news. Unfortunately, there are times when organizations have to manage unrealistic expectations but managing customer concerns with empathy and a positive outlook will ensure a loyal customer for the future. 

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.

Significant Stat: Building Rapport

The first 90 days of one’s employment are pivotal to building rapport with the company, management and coworkers. (source)

Advice from John Cashion, Corporate Director, Culture Transformation at The Ritz-Carlton Leadership Center:

In the first three months, new employees will learn all about an organization’s culture, build relationships with co-workers and begin to earn the trust of leaders. The first 90 days is a critical time because new hires will be forming their first impressions about their place of work and the people, and likewise, colleagues and managers will be forming first impressions of the new employee. Dr. Jack Schafer, a retired FBI special agent and behavioral analyst, notes that “once a first impression is formed, people are less likely to change their mind. This is based on the psychological principle of consistency: When people articulate an idea, they are less likely to change their minds because they would first have to admit that they were initially wrong. Maintaining an erroneous notion, such as a first impression, actually causes less anxiety than admitting an error and adopting another position.” If new hires have a favorable impression of their co-workers, managers and work environment, they will begin to settle in and show their commitment to the organization. At The Ritz-Carton, new employees—known as our Ladies and Gentlemen—begin by going through a two-day onboarding process where they learn about the culture of The Ritz-Carlton. New staff members are then assigned learning coaches who train and mentor them. Starting on day one, new Ladies and Gentlemen must work on building rapport with everyone because delivering world-class service is a team effort.

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.

Significant Stat: Onboarding Orientation

New employees who attended a well-structured onboarding orientation program were 69 percent more likely to remain at a company up to three years. (source)

Advice from Joseph Quitoni, Corporate Director, Culture Transformation at The Ritz-Carlton Leadership Center:

Starting a new job is a significant emotional event in our lives and generally the best time to make a behavioral change and form new habits. New employees are excited to be part of a company and want to be successful. At The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, all employees are required to attend a two-day orientation that starts their first day of employment and prior to starting their new position. Employees cannot truly be a part of an organization unless they know the expectations and values of that organization. We want all employees to feel they are a part of The Ritz-Carlton Company—and not just work for it. This will create purpose for every new employee and purpose creates passion. When an employee is passionate about their work and their organization, they will stay longer and maximize their talent to the benefit of the individual as well as the company.

Join us for a one-day symposium, “Your Journey to Service Excellence.” The day includes a keynote speaker, a Q&A session with The Ritz-Carlton executive panel, an optional networking reception and presentations about legendary service, employee engagement and developing a customer-centric culture.

Dear Ritz-Carlton: What happens if an employee does not fit into The Ritz-Carlton culture?

Dear Ritz-Carlton: What happens if an employee does not fit into The Ritz-Carlton culture?

The above question is from an attendee at “Symposium: Your Journey to Service Excellence” in April. The following answer is from John Cashion, Corporate Director, Culture Transformation at The Ritz-Carlton Leadership Center:

John CashionThe Ritz-Carlton works very hard at selecting the top 1% in the service industry. We pride ourselves on ensuring that we take the process (which is very robust) very seriously. We work to select our employees—known as our Ladies and Gentlemen— who naturally align themselves with our culture. With that being said, there are times when our Ladies and Gentlemen do not fit into The Ritz-Carlton culture. When this happens, we must work to develop them. We invest in our Ladies and Gentlemen through coaching, mentoring and training. We feel that this investment will strengthen their desire to grow and develop and help them better understand The Ritz-Carlton brand. We are very passionate about our culture. Our written philosophy—which is called the “Credo”—is a Latin word for “I Believe.” All of our Ladies and Gentlemen must believe in our service culture, or it will not work. If they don’t believe in what it stands for, they cannot provide the true meaning of Ritz-Carlton service.

Join us for a one-day symposium, “Your Journey to Service Excellence.” The day includes a keynote speaker, a Q&A session with The Ritz-Carlton executive panel, an optional networking reception and presentations about legendary service, employee engagement and developing a customer-centric culture.

Dear Ritz-Carlton: Service Excellence Training or Hiring?

Dear Ritz-Carlton: How much of The Ritz-Carlton service excellence “traits” are taught versus already exist in the people you hire?

The above question is from an attendee atSymposium: Your Journey to Service Excellencein April. Answer from Alexandra Valentin, Corporate Director, Culture Transformation at The Ritz-Carlton Leadership Center:

 

Head Shot Alexandra ValentinService excellence traits set top performers apart from bottom performers. But are these traits innate? Are they part of a person’s DNA? According to experts, service excellence traits can be taught. Author Matthew Syed states in his book Bounce: The Myth of Talent and the Power of Practice that “The evidence shows that some kids start out better than others, whether at math, English, golf, whatever. But, the key point is that, as the number of hours devoted to practice escalates, so the relevance of these initial differences melts away. Why? Because, over time, and with the right kind of practice, we change so much.” Practicing excellence begins early in life. Parents and mentors teach us principles, stress good character and help us mold and refine our values. Ideally, we each grow up with role models that enable us to practice excellence.

When we measure talent at The Ritz-Carlton, we’re looking for those innate talents that have been practiced and honed throughout a lifetime, and then we build on those talents and continue to develop them. Part of our Employee Promise is “By applying the principles of trust, honesty, respect, integrity and commitment, we nurture and maximize talent to the benefit of each individual and the company.” The Ritz-Carlton believes in service excellence training and dedicates more than 250 hours to practice annually—including a daily practice every day. Practice doesn’t create perfection, but it certainly creates service excellence traits. 

Join us for a one-day symposium, “Your Journey to Service Excellence.” The day includes a keynote speaker, a Q&A session with The Ritz-Carlton executive panel, an optional networking reception and presentations about legendary service, employee engagement and a customer-centric culture.