A PWC report suggests that by 2020, half of the world’s workforce will comprise millennials. A huge number of these millennials will go on to occupy leadership positions, but despite their entering into leadership positions at an accelerated rate, the 2016 Deloitte Millennial Survey shows an overall poor worker satisfaction with over 60% stating that leadership positions are not fully developed.

The aim of this mini-series is to address the meaningful role that millennials in the workplace can play as innovators, decision-makers and project leads. The series also aims to encourage organizations to adapt their leadership approach in order to include millennials, and also incorporate digital interventions to make their managerial systems more accessible for collaboration.

“Millennials intend to change the way we approach work for the better and they intend to take this philosophy into their leadership,” says Millennial & Gen Z expert Ashira Prossack.

Prossack is one of many experts who is carefully studying the ways in which millennials are changing the way the workforce views leadership. This generation is not afraid to lead from the front! According to a recent survey by Virtuali and Workplace Trends (USA), a whopping 91% of millennials showed interest in leadership roles. Half of these respondents are confident of their strong leadership skills in relationship building and communication. However, there seems to be a lack of confidence to take on these leadership roles due to a shortfall of industry experience and technical skills knowledge sharing.

The millennials who are reaching management positions are doing so without adequate mentorship or training. This will no doubt set them up for failure. In many organizations, there is very little time to prepare millennials for their leadership roles and understand the expectations of the new role. According to Harvard Business Review, up to 40% of millennials in leadership positions fail in their new posts. This is due to these two main reasons: the lack of people management skills within a team set-up and inadequate training from the organization.

The JvR Africa Group suggests employers should look into creating a development plan that would help outline how new leaders would be supported by organizations. This development plan would be set up to assist new leaders to deliver the key requirements within their role. This development plan can be presented in different formats such as enrolment to formal courses (upskill), mentorship or personal coaching, and job rotations to other parts of the organization. This would be helpful to millennials as this directly aligns with their need to remain engaged with management and gaining more insight with quarterly feedback sessions.

“Companies are not mindful enough to ensure that people, especially given the number of millennials in the workforce, are equipped for the roles they are chosen for,” says Dr Renate Scherrer, Managing Director of JvR Consulting.

Not only will this plan create more confident leaders, but it would require accountability from both the organization and millennials to fulfil all their requirements and measure the impact of the development plan on the delivered outcomes within the leadership role. This would be in the form of regular assessments, feedback and progress reports.

Millennials are showing organizations that leadership can be more inclusive and more impactful by adopting a human-centred approach. Despite their reputation of not being traditionally loyal to a single employer, millennials are working towards making an impact and transforming their environments and disrupting the status quo, and it is up to organisations to meet them halfway.

Writer: Khanya Bonani, Intern