Millennials get a bad rap around performance. With all the discussion around “participation” awards and similar topics you would think that this generation has never had to compete a day in their lives. I submit that what strokes Millennial’s competitive nature or that core need for challenge may be somewhat different than other groups but I don’t believe it doesn’t exist.
We Are Wired For Challenge
In fact, I suspect that Millennials are just as wired for challenge as the rest of us. The largest and one of the fastest growing industries in our era is computer or online gaming. This sector is nearing the $100B yearly mark – yes that is a B! These games are excellent examples of challenge driving performance.
A digital game provides instant feedback on performance and the challenge to improve on each and every try! Success is measured by how fast you can get through all the levels or how high your scores are. What is interesting too is that many use the game to build up personal (in game) skills so that they can be productive contributors and collaborators on teams in a larger game setting. World of Warcraft would be one such example.
Either/And vs Either/Or
The fact is that Millennials have been raised in one of the most collaborative milieus ever. They are proficient in the skills needed to navigate working on a team or in a group and they have been taught to value the contribution that each person brings to the team. As such they can be competitive and also tend to make very good team members.
They are also pretty data savvy. Having been raised at the height of the digital revolution they have a natural bent to look to data to inform their understanding of the world and the work they do to contribute to it. As such they are much more likely to give serious consideration to what the data tells them and feel comfortable making choices based on it.
Making The Connection
Challenge then, is not an issue for them, connecting them to the challenge is. What I mean by this is that often leadership (and this is borne out by research) fail to connect staff to company objectives. Company challenges don’t become staff challenges. Perhaps that is why this demographic more than others want leadership that is actually managing their performance and growth. This is where the “math of performance” comes in.
I have heard it said that math is the language by which we describe the universe. The math of performance involves "describing" the metrics for what you do, tracking them and using them to drive performance. I want to be clear, metrics can track performance but more importantly they can be used to drive performance. Comfortable leadership means being able to guide your staff to an understanding of what metrics are key to their performance. The inference too is that as a leader you are completely familiar with your metrics and the metrics for your group or division.
Meaning in Measures
Can you get a staff member to come up with something to measure that represents an aspect of their performance? Can you show them how that rolls up into measures for the group and how that impacts group performance? And lastly can you show them how group measures and performance impact the achievement of company goals and objectives? If you can do that then you have mastered the math of performance and a key feature of comfortable leadership.
We all respond to challenges. We all share a certain need to grow and improve. Guiding us to discover those challenges at work is the mark of a good leader. Using our challenges to improve performance is the mark of a great leader. Performance Leadership – Think About It!