Commitment, what does it mean to you? It could be marrying the love of your life, helping those less fortunate than yourself, or making every one of your daughter’s gymnastics meets. I think commitment can be an ambiguous term but, broken commitments no matter how small will always lead to dissapointment if you don’t follow through.
In reading a blog by the Lead Change Group, Married to the job? – How Leaders show commitment in a fast changing world, it discusses how leaders convey commitment. A common stereotype of Millennials consists of their lack of company commitment. Let’s assume the stereotype is true. Loyalty? It’s extinct for us young kids, right? If you believe there to be an issue with the younger contingent and their commitment to your company, your leaders have to understand how to show their own commitment. In the article it mentions a young senior executive replacing a tenured executive who just retired. She explains to her “followers” that she only intends to stay for 2 years. If you’re a Millennial and you hear that your boss only plans on being there a couple of years? You’re probably not interested in hanging around too long either.
The issue here is not how the new senior executive addressed her tenure but rather it’s that she addressed it at all. The article goes on to explain how you convey your tenure by describing the job you came here to do and when those outcomes are supposed to be achieved. Which is all well and good, but if you’re a leader – the first time you introduce yourself should not involve discussing your end date. It would be like my coach recruiting me and telling me, “Well Nicole, your sophomore year I’m going to be moving to a Division I school to coach so you should probably look to transfer.”
Gain the trust of your followers before beating around the bush about your departure. Talk about how you’re going to help them and what value you’re bringing to the role. No matter the generation – we all want a leader we believe in. If you talk about all of the results your “supposed” to achieve in the role, then half way through aren’t reaching them? You might not even be there 2 years. Don’t set yourself up.
It is no longer seen as company commitment but, rather occupational commitment. We need to be passionate about our job before we can be passionate about the company. We’re committed to our careers and if that growth comes from the current employer? Great. If not, it’s not personal if we want to explore the next opportunity. To combat this, employers must understand that it all starts at the top. If your leaders aren’t living your brand, don’t be surprised if your group of 150 interns isn’t either.
Again, leaders change – they move up, they move on. But, when you’re a leader everyone is watching you. The guy who delivers your lunch to the conference room, the direct report who is begging you to come say hi to them, your executive assistant who makes you whole, the intern deciding whether or not this is the company they want to work for, and even the junior level marketer walking through the halls on their interview.
Whether or not you think Millennials have issues with commitment – evaluate your leadership. Commitment is a top down action, not bottom up. Think about it.