Give constructive criticism, even if that means a few tears at first.
- Failure is part of life. Rebounding from failure is part of success, but for millennials failure can be absolutely devastating because they're not used to failing. Let me give you some context. People call the millennials the special snowflake generation for a reason. They're the kids who got participation trophies even when they came in last. They've also been called the most over parented generation in history. Every year their parents sat them down and talked about how can I help you get straight A's? Do you need a coach? What can I do for you? Their school set the bar very high for them, they were expected to be top performers, a B was fatal, they had SAT coaches, their parents talked to their sports coaches about how they should get more play time, but now they have you.
You're not their parent, you're their boss and so overnight these millennials went from a situation where everyone was cheering them on and focused on their success to now they're having to do things they've never done before and they have to do it without a private coach, and without a cheerleader, and it's not about them, it's now about the organization. So failure is going to be part of the process. So one of the things you can do as a leader, is to teach your team, particularly your young people, how to rebound from failure.
You know I remember something that my husband said to me early on in my career that really helped me and it was this, "If you're not failing some of the time, "you're not trying hard enough." Let's look at a role play. Elizabeth has just completed a big project for a client, but she made a couple of mistakes. The client noticed the error and they called us on it, now it's time for me to talk to Elizabeth about the problem. So Elizabeth I wanna talk to you about that project. We just heard back from the client, and there were problems with the graphics. - I'm sorry, I really can't believe I messed those up.
- You know, it happens, but I'm gonna need you to redo it. - I can fix it. - Okay, so take some time, fix it, we'll send it back to the client, and make sure you do a better job this time okay? - Okay, I'll devote a lot of time to this, it'll be done by Friday. - Okay, good. If you wanna help someone deal with failure, you need them to take ownership of it. In that scenario I got her to acknowledge the problem, but I'm not sure she really owns it, and I'm not sure she knows what to do about it, and there's a nuance here, you see ownership doesn't mean them berating themselves.
When they're doing that you're still in the power position as the boss, instead you wanna put them in the power position because when they truly own it they can fix it. Let's look at what happens when I do that. So Elizabeth, how'd you feel about the project you just turned in? - Well I felt okay, I definitely had some problems with the graphics but I think it turned out pretty well. - It did turn out pretty well, but you're right about the graphics. The client called us and they weren't happy with that part. - Oof, I'm sorry.
- You know what? It happens. So we do need to redo 'em. So what can you do? - Well I think I could talk to a senior person, you know I hadn't really done graphics just like that before and I wasn't really clear on the direction. So I can revise it and I'll get a senior person's approval on this and I can have it back to you by Friday. - Okay, I think that's a great idea and I want you to think about what role do you think the graphics play in the total project? - When I think about it they are the first thing the client sees so it's probably the worst thing to skip over. (chuckles) - It is a pretty big deal.
So what can we do differently going forward? - Well you know I'm not really the only person with this problem, a few other people I've talked to have been struggling with the new system and how to integrate these new graphics, so do you think we could do training on this just so we all get better and these mistakes don't happen so often? - Hmm. You know I think that's a good idea. I think that's a really good idea. So action items. - Okay, I can revise this proposal, I'll have it to you by Friday and let's talk going forward about some training around this.
I really think we can all improve and it'll be important going forward. - That's a really, really good idea Elizabeth. So we'll regroup on Friday, we will get this right. It's not fatal, the client's given us a chance to resubmit, we'll make it better and then we'll talk about how to improve the whole department. - Okay. - Great. In that second conversation, I gave Elizabeth the chance to tell me about the problem first and I change the dynamic and so three things happen there. Number one she owns it. Number two, I wanted her to see the impact it has on the client.
So now she understands the importance of the issue, and the third thing is, and this is so important, I want her to see failure is not fatal. It's just part of the process. We adjust and we go again. I want her to know that I have confidence in her ability to rebound. Because you see the true test of leadership is how your employees behave when you're not in the room. So you want to build up their resilience muscle. So when they fail, and they will, when they fail you want their first response to be unpack it, regroup and then go after it again.
- Framing the problem
- Interviewing millennials
- Communicating with millennials
- Engaging and retaining millennial talent
- Providing feedback and positive incentives
- Letting millennial employees go