Millennials-Too Much, Too Soon

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Do Millennials and Gen Z expect to be in the C-suite too soon? It appears so. Also, that is Gen Z…if you are still trying to understand Millennials, better buckle up as Gen Z is now in the workplace.

From Human Resource Executive:

A recent survey by InsideOut Development, a workplace coaching firm, finds that 75 percent of Gen Z members believe they should be promoted within their first year on the job, while 32 percent believe they should get a promotion within their first six months.

There is something to be said for aspiring to climb the corporate ladder. However, the promotions that many of them seek are truly beyond their reach at this point in their career. This desire to ascend quickly in the company does appear to be common to the Millennial generation.

As a CRO, you need to make sure you have a plan for handling the younger generations’ desire to rise within the company. This aspiration is present from your initial hiring process so there are three adjustments to make for these generations.

  1. Discuss career path in the interview
    Retention starts in the interview process before you hire a new salesperson. You do not need to have a career path for the candidate laid out in fine detail. However, you should be able to sketch out a general path for successful employees to move up in the company.

  2. Increase the frequency of reviews
    Many companies avoid reviews due to the thought that positive reviews lead to mandatory raises. Not so, you can conduct performance reviews separate from compensation reviews. The younger generations are used to voluminous feedback. Bi-annual reviews provide a structured format for continued employee development.

  3. Assess for motivations and rewards
    One component of our assessments provides in-depth measurements of a person’s motivational pattern and reward structure. As a CRO, you will know if that salesperson is driven to lead, driven to sell, driven towards both. In conjunction, you will know what rewards them. For some, self-improvement and advancement are more important that money.

The key is to keep a pulse on your salesperson’s enjoyment of the job and near-term advancement goals. This awareness has always been a component of successful sales leadership. The younger generations have grown up with ubiquitous feedback. They have short response times and a need for frequent guidance from their managers. In a way, the younger generation’s needs will help you become a better CRO.

3 takeaways for dealing with Millennial and Gen Z salespeople:

  1. Stay focused on a career path for this role even as you are interviewing candidates

  2. Set a 6 month schedule for performance reviews and anticipate weekly debriefs in between

  3. Use assessments to understand the motivational-reward structure of your salespeople

2 Key Traits for Managing Millennials


This list could be much, much longer in dealing with this generation. However, let's focus on two traits that we are seeing consistently in successful leaders of Millennials.

1. Empathy - a quick, paraphrased definition from Merriam-Webster:  the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another without having those things fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner.

Now to be clear, empathy has always been a valuable leadership trait through the generations.  Leadership is associated with power which allows leaders to operate, potentially, with a heavy hand.  They need not worry about reading their direct reports.  The leader provides the direction and expects the reports to execute it.

Empathy is a critical component of emotional intelligence.  The ability to read the nonverbal cues of people provides access to the largest channel of communication.  7% of communication is verbal (i.e. words) while 93% of communication is nonverbal (e.g. tone, body position, inflection, posture, etc.).  Nonverbal communication is the universal language and if the leader can read it effectively, he or she has an advantage in leading Millennials.

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2. Patience - This trait appears to be more uncommon by the day.  Millennials have matured in a microwave world.  Data, entertainment, communication has always been at their fingertips primarily through their cell phone.  Patience has not been a common point in their collective lives.

The ingrained lack of patience means the leader of this impatient generation needs...patience.  Saint Augustine famously stated, "Patience is the companion of wisdom." How true.  The Millennial generation often pushes for expediency in their careers to the point where they leave companies after short tenures.  They believe they have acquired all of the skills they can from that company and their path to the CEO suite is unclear.

The modern-day leader has to maintain a steady hand with the Millennials.  The leader must manage the Millennials expectations and provide a growth path focused on skill development.  The key is to coach them to take measured steps forward.  Patience will provide progress.

Keep this in mind, by the year 2020, Millennials will make up approximately 75% of the workforce.  Their generation requires an evolving leadership style better suited to the Millennial mindset.  Two traits, empathy and patience, will be in growing demand each year.  The leaders with the ability to adapt will successfully harness the energy of this new generation.