Millennials are changing the world and they’re preparing to become tomorrow’s leaders. Creating the right culture for them to thrive and succeed in will allow you to benefit behind their energy and momentum. It’s a two-way street and with the right understanding, everyone wins. Shark Tank’s Kevin O’leary together with President of Verizon Enterprise Solutions Janet Schijns and rising star Phil Burrows all discuss their perspectives on the millennial work place. Take a look!
Phil: When I show up to work every day, in my mind, I’m focused on using my strengths to bring the most value to the company. I’ve heard many people say that their company struggles to create the right environment for millennials. From my experience and viewpoint, millennials just want opportunity to add value and not be held back by titles or years of experience. At Verizon, I’ve worked on many projects with many colleagues who have been with Verizon for 30 years, 10 years or like myself who are here a little over 3 years with the company. The important thing is that I’m being trusted with the responsibility to put the company’s goals on my back just like anyone else would be. I think any company who’s looking to create an environment that’s attractable to millennials needs to provide their employees who want to the challenge, the opportunity to take on more responsibility not less.
Janet: To a one the best leaders show up every day with their customer top of mind and the development of their teams in their sights. Experience allows you to do more, it allows you to mentor those who are looking to reach your level, but it does not allow you to stop learning, be inaccessible or get away with under achieving. I think a terrific example of this is the amazing designer Diane Vonfustenbergshe has reinvented herself so many times in her career to stay current and she is always engaging her customers to keep her pulse on their needs. She’s now taking a coding course in order to understand the impact apps will have on fashion. Mind you she has plenty of staff that can code and do it for her, but she told me “How can I tell them to code if I don’t have a clue how to code myself!” Leadership is all about wanting to get into the business with your customers and your teams what do you think Kevin?
Kevin: I agree, you need to be in the pitch with your team.especially with millennials. Today there are people who don’t even answer a DM, text or phone call. However, all the entrepreneurs that I’ve invested with know that if there’s ever anything they need, they can call me right away. I give out my number and I make sure to get back to them as quickly as possible. It provides a needed level of confidence to your employees and as a leader you should do everything you can to help them grow and not just worry about yourself.
Janet: Kevin that’s a key point you are making – great leaders focus on others not themselves. Showing you team that you want to help with their personal growth is the best way to attract and retain top talent. It’s also key in creating that positive environment which ultimately leads to more productivity. What I love about working with millennials is is they give me a new perspective and understanding about how our digitial transformation enables new business models. But to get that insight you do have to take the time to pay attention to how millennials work. You also need to guide them and ensure you teach them the key rules of your business – innovation can never come at the cost of our customers or our brand. But I do find when you take that time, when you remove that “title barrier” and give them the opportun
ity to add value to a project at every level you see an amazing rise in productivity. I have actually surrounded myself with a team of millennial reverse mentors – each one has a different strength and they help me adapt in the digital world while I help them learn the rules of business. Learning leaders are winning leaders and with support from my reverse mentors like Phil I am able to continually challenge the way things are done. Let’s face it – If you’re not willing to make the effort to constantly learn as a leader shame on you! Kevin I so admire your leadership what other things do you think are key?
Kevin: At the same time Janet- as a leader we are all responsible for setting the tone of the culture you create. At O’Shares we have absolutely zero tolerance for lack of respect. Our code of ethics is extremely high and we’ll never lower it. If you don’t set a high standard it will come out in the wash with your customers. If they feel that you don’t have a solid ethical footing you’re not getting the business and before you know it, you’ll develop a bad reputation. If I find out that someone besmirches our reputation because of a derogatory comment, concerning race, ethnicity, gender or anything else, they’re gone- no exceptions! It’s so important especially as a leader to create that type of environment from the get go. With the chatter that takes place on social media your employees have to be extremely cognizant of that, because one bad Tweet can ruin your entire reputation.
Phil– I completely agree and personally feel that positive criticism is so important. In fact, I think it’s really the only way to grow. When given in the right way you’ll have the opportunity to reach way beyond your specific role. At Verizon I’ve been able to take part in projects that technically were outside of my job description which has widened my experience, relationships and knowledge into so many other areas. Being able to learn from so many great people and leaders across the business in different roles has enabled me to become a problem solver and not just what my job description requires me to do. For your ultimate growth I think it’s important to always look for other opportunities to both learn and give. Having a wide variety of skills and knowledge will increase your opportunities for success in the future.