Dialogue Q3 2018

Page 72



The data set

Millennials and their challenging anti-hierarchical ethos make them ideal recruits to a data-driven business culture, writes Graham Hogg

Millennials are unlike preceding generations. They view the world differently and have redefined the meaning of success, personally and professionally. In some cases, this has led to misunderstanding among the different generations coexisting in today’s workplace. Increasingly, however, business leaders are realizing this generation’s unique competencies and perspective, and employers are looking for ways to harness their strengths. I go further in my recent book, Seeing Around Corners, that this discovery-driven orientation of Millennials and willingness to challenge the norm is a key ingredient to building data-driven cultures in teams. Millennials will make up approximately half the workforce by 2020 and so will make up a large part of the teams in most organizations. It will be a leader’s responsibility to attract Millennials to the company and to keep them there. But the problem with Millennials is that they lack engagement at work. A Gallup study completed in 2015 showed that only 29% of Millennials are engaged at work, while 16% are actively disengaged. The remaining 55% remain in a purgatory of mediocre levels of engagement. When people aren’t fully engaged, they demonstrate this by quickly leaving for another company.

Foster a collaborative environment everyday

Millennials can thrive in a data-driven culture because they love collaboration. Dialogue Q3 2018

This isn’t about coffee and beanbags; this is about the way that we interact with each other in meetings. Millennials routinely rank corporate culture as a major factor in how well they feel engaged. They want to work across teams and departments, and don’t respect corporate planning cycles or business unit silos. This is welcome, because such structures serve only to compromise innovation. Organizations should cultivate and encourage these collaboration and cross-functional development opportunities, not only to get the most out of the future workforce, but to build an effective data culture.

Unlocking the value of data is a team sport

The skill that teams will need to unlock the value of their data will be identifying the gaps in their understanding: “What do we need to know?” When we connect these questions to advanced analytical skills, organizations can then fuel adaptability and innovation. This starts with effective

As I discovered during my military career facing constantly changing and vastly complex environments: adaptability trumps efficiency every time

collaboration, the number-one attribute for Millennials in the workplace, according to a Microsoft study. We have all read that Millennials are unsociable, that they sit by their screens and pay no attention to people. Whether this is true or not, leaders need to get them into challenging debates within teams and to engage with data. And, contrary to the belief that Millennials are digitally isolated, the research above shows that most respondents said “good team collaboration” was the most valuable attribute in their ideal workplace.

Build messy teams

Millennials don’t relate to annual plans or planning processes, and certainly don’t respond to flashing red, amber or green lights on a dashboard that relate to their boss’s metrics. These systems and ways of working were born from a manufacturing and industrial environment that frankly no longer exists. As I discovered during my military career facing constantly changing and vastly complex environments: adaptability trumps efficiency every time. When their leaders communicate frequently and consistently, and provide good feedback, Millennial employees are found to be more engaged than those from Generation X or the Baby Boom. Feedback is key: making sure everyone shares understanding; staging interactive discussion and debate rather than issuing orders. Millennials want to feel that they are contributing to the