Advice on keeping your young talent tip-top

Hiring or already employing millennials these days and wondering how to keep them happy and employed with you? There are companies out there who advise businesses on the subtleties, and pitfalls, of dealing with GenY. YoungPro Elite is one of them.

by WAN-IFRA Staff | April 11, 2016

Blake Cavignac is the Founder of YoungPro Elite, a consulting company in the US that advices companies and corporations about how to mentor young leaders (millennials), CEOs and executives. Cavignac and his team have worked with “thousands of college students and young professionals through his companies and the programs he has created.” But crucially, the company holds comprehensive programmes, workshops and projects with executive leadership of companies to guide them in working and mentoring millennial employees.

As news media companies seek out such talent for various roles in the organization, we thought it would be interesting to hear what Cavignac can share.

WAN-IFRA: Have you had the opportunity to work with media companies?

Blake Cavignac: I have not.

If you reflect on the newspaper industry, what could you imagine are some of the challenges leaders there face today with GenY talent starting to play an increasingly leading role?

I imagine some of the challenges leaders face include:

  • Giving up some of their power (roles and responsibilities) to them because often Boomers associate what they do (their careers) with their identity.
  • Contrasting and/or different leadership styles.
  • Being open to new ideas that they bring to the table.
  • Making sure that they have the training necessary to excel as leaders.
  • Finding ways to retain them, ensuring a successful perpetuation of their company.

When you work with executives who are trying to mentor GenY staff, what are some of the common mistakes or misunderstandings you encounter?

Some of the common mistakes or misunderstandings that I encounter when it comes to executives mentoring their millennial staff include:

  • They don’t clearly define the expectations and standards that they expect of them.
  • They don’t clearly define the behaviors they need to display on a consistent basis.
  • They let stereotypes of the millennial generation drive their thinking and management style.
  • They don’t keep them accountable for the results they committed to achieve.
  • They don’t meet with them on a consistent basis to assess their progress and address any questions, concerns, etc. they have.
  • They fail to communicate the importance of their role within the company and how they play a vital part in helping their company realize their vision.
  • They expect that they will immediately trust and respect them instead or realizing that they must earn their trust and respect.
  • They don’t display the beliefs and behaviors they want their millennials to display.
  • They fail to explain the “Why?” behind everything they do and instead just tell them what to do.

What are some of the keys to acquiring top talent to what they may perceive as “old hat” i.e. working at legacy media vs. a digital pure player, for example?

I believe some of the keys to acquiring top talent include:

  • Having a strong presence throughout local universities with key influencers on campus who spread awareness of your brand and help you recruit the top students.
  • Having an internship program that attracts the top college talent and gets them excited about the potential of being offered a job at your company upon graduation.
  • Consistently engaging with potential millennial employees (college students and young professionals) through social media platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
  • Publishing content (blogs and videos) on a weekly basis that:
    • Communicates our company culture, values and standards.
    • Shares personal stories about the growth, development and lives of our employees.
    • Gets your clients, partners and other community leaders involved by promoting your brand along with having them contribute content that helps others advance their careers.
    • Creating a website that effectively engages and communicates a culture that is attractive to millennials.
    • Individual members of your executive team personally interviewing every potential millennial employee.
    • Effectively communicating your onboarding process during the interview showing millennials that they can make an immediate contribution to the growth and success of our company.
      • Offering a generous benefits package, which includes but is not limited to:
        • Medical
        • Dental
        • Tuition Reimbursement
        • 401k Plan
        • PTO
        • Training & Development
        • Wellness Program
        • Flexible Work Environment

How can you keep such talent motivated and inspired to stay with a company beyond a couple of years… or for a legacy media company, is having that injection of energy and talent a good thing? (again, sorry for the BIG generalizations)?

I believe you can keep such talent motivated and inspired to stay with a company beyond a couple of years by:

  • Clearly identifying:
    • The beliefs, behaviors, standards, values, skills and competencies required for each of the roles within the company so your millennials know exactly what it takes to succeed in the company and excel in their careers.
    • Your mission and vision need to be consistently communicated to your millennials ensuring that they have complete clarity on the direction and purpose of the company.
  • Getting your millennials involved in training programs throughout the year that teach them about the:
    • Technical aspects of your business.
    • Technical aspects about their roles within the company.
    • Fundamental skills and business acumen they need to develop in order to excel in their roles and create a successful career.
  • Individual members of your executive team meeting (one-on-one) with your millennials every other month to assess their progress, clearly define standards and expectations while also providing them with the support and mentorship needed to ensure that they have a rewarding career within your company.
  • Helping your millennials create a career developmental plan every year that offers a number of different roles and opportunities that they can take advantage of within your company.
  • Providing your millennials with leadership opportunities when it comes to creating new initiatives (community outreach programs, technology strategy, etc.) that are in alignment with your company’s vision.
  • Getting your millennials involved in creating content for our blog and local publications along with having them consistently communicate with our prospects, clients and future employees through social media.
  • Creating millennial peer groups within your company that meet once a month to:
    • Support and help each other stay accountable to achieving their goals and company initiatives.
    • Come up with solutions to current problems your company is facing.
    • Create new and innovative initiatives that will help the company achieve both your short and long-term goals.
  • Providing your millennials with a mentorship program where they not only get the opportunity to learn from and engage with your senior level employees every month but also get reverse mentorship opportunities.
  • Having a “State of the Organization” meeting at least two times a year where your executive team communicates the current state along with vision of the company (revenue projections, potential expansion, goals, etc.) and the role your millennials will play in accomplishing our vision.
  • Ensuring that your millennials can clearly articulate:
    • The importance of their specific role in the company and how it directly impacts their colleague’s roles.
    • The purpose of the company and how it impacts the lives of your clients and communities.
  • Explaining the “Why?” behind everything we do instead of just telling your millennials what to do.
  • Rewarding and promoting your millennials:
    • Based on their progress and achievements not tenure.
    • By recognizing them (both publicly and privately) when they achieve their goals and make valuable contributions to the company and/or community.
  • Your executive team meeting at least once a quarter with your millennials giving them the opportunity to provide you with insights on:
    • How you can be more effective when leading them.
    • New ideas and strategies that will help advance your company.
  • Giving your millennials complete autonomy (flexible hours, work from home, etc.) in their careers.
  • Getting your millennials involved in:
    • Key hiring decisions.
    • Decisions that will influence the direction and vision of your company.
  • Creating an organizational structure that allows your millennials to experience different roles in the company throughout their careers.
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