Creating a Coaching Culture for Millennials

October 26, 2017

The modern workplace is changing.


According to The Pew Research Centre, Millennials (individuals born between 1983-1996) currently make up the largest part of the U.S. workforce, and are predicted to count for half of the global workforce by 2020. Not only is this generation changing what the workplace looks like, they’re also ambitiously pursuing goals such as roles in top management and executive-level positions; a 2015 report found that 73% of Millennials hoped to be promoted to positions of leadership within their organizations within the next five years.


The Millennial Myth


Often, previous generations (Baby Boomers and Gen X and Y-ers) tend to mischaracterize Millennials as lazy or entitled in the workplace, disregarding their desire for a greater work/life balance, more supportive and inclusive workplaces, less fear of leaving one role for another, and many other factors as negative attributes.


However, studies have shown that these attitudes have less to do with Millennials themselves, and more to do with their career stage. According to Harvard Business Review, Millennials prefer more frequent feedback than other age groups and are motivated to continue learning in their role, with 54% reporting that they’d like additional training, and 60% expressing the desire for leadership training from their place of work.


Millennials don’t want bosses; they want coaches who can help them achieve their professional development goals and move their careers forward. With this in mind, executive coaches need to adapt their approaches to meet the needs and expectations of the next generation of professional leaders.


Changing Generational Values


According to research from the International Coaching Federation (ICF) and the Human Capital Institute (HCI), organizations with strong coaching cultures report that 61% of their workforce is “highly engaged” compared to 53% of organizations without strong coaching cultures. In a world where Millennial workers crave workplaces that keep them active, engaged, and constantly learning, building a “coaching culture” will help to retain employees.


This means fundamentally re-thinking how previous generations have managed and set expectations for their staff.


The ICF/HCI study polled Millennial respondents to identify the qualities they associated with the most effective management style.  Results indicated that respondents prefer management styles that are:


  • Collaborative

  • Coach-like

  • Supportive

  • Team oriented

  • Empowering

  • Inclusive


The answers clearly allude to a desire for workplaces that focus on supporting and empowering employees. As organizations adapt to the future, it’s critical that they adopt a “coach approach” to meet the changing needs and desires of the emerging workforce in order to prepare the next generation of leaders to guide organizations to success.


Coaching Future Leaders: What You Can Do


Access to coaching within the workplace is critical to assist new and emerging Millennial leaders with their professional development. As Millennials assume first-time manager positions and eventually executive leadership positions, organizations need to be adaptive to their needs and ready to provide relevant and effective training.


Some of the things your organization can do to begin this transition include:


  • Recognize and accept generational differences: don’t assign generational differences in values to immaturity, selfishness, or laziness; understand that working styles vary due to various and specific needs depending on different life stages.

  • Focus on flexibility: create opportunities for advancement with a focus on flexible working arrangements (a need that ICF/HCI concluded transcends all age groups.)

  • Make professional coaching available: internally and/or externally, work with professional coaches to unlock employee and leadership potential.

  • Build a “coaching culture:” make coaching available to all ages and experience levels within your organization.


The demographics of our future leaders is changing, and forward-thinking organizations and businesses need to prepare to equip Millennial leaders with the necessary tools and opportunities for development in order to facilitate this change effectively.


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