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The Essential Leadership Skill Millennials Need To Learn

President Of TrainSmart, Inc.

Of the many things that a typical person does at work each day, “talking” is something that most Baby Boomers and Gen-Xers don’t even think about. It’s as natural as checking the morning email.  While that is no guarantee that the ability to talk means that a baby boomer or Gen-Xer will excel at business communication, learning how to talk effectively to peers, bosses and clients is a skill most understand they need to have.

Not so with Millennials. They grew up with a lot less talking and a lot more texting.  When they need to ask a colleague a question they usually send a text – even when that colleague may be sitting in the very next cube.

Think of it as the Yin and Yang of leadership skills. While Millennials excel at technology and add huge value to the workforce with these skills, many of these same highly skilled workers stumble when they have to talk face to face with people.

Few disagree that corporate cultures need to change to adapt to the strengths of Millennials. However, the ability to talk professionally is not a skill that is going away anytime soon.

An ASTD white paper on Leadership Development for Millennials includes research findings from a survey of nearly 600 businesses.  In that survey, nearly 60% of respondents said they believe companies need to create specialized leadership training targeted at Millennials.

At the same time, just 15% of the companies said they have implemented such a program, with another 25% saying they are considering developing one.

What are some of the communication skills Millennials need to learn?  Most important, Millennials need learn how to be less casual in their communication style. Many Millennials will communicate in a business setting the same way they communicate when texting a friend.

Just as older generations need to practice a more casual style in chat situations, Millennials need to practice using more traditional and formal sentences.

This is not an easy skill to learn. Think of it as having to learn a whole new language. Millennials need to have an opportunity to learn how to “translate” their casual conversations into more acceptable business prose. This kind of learning is ideal for a social learning environment where learners can see how different people translate the same casual–speak into appropriate business-speak.

In addition, Millennials, like other employees, can benefit from training that includes videotaping their presentations and participation in meetings. Millennials seek feedback and having a video of their presentation or even participation in a meeting offers them the kind of feedback that they can use to make changes.

The great news is that as a generation, Millennials strive for improvement. Giving them concrete goals and measurements is the kind of framework they prefer to learn a new skill.

Are you interested in speaking with one of our sales team members about your millennial leadership development programs? Contact us at 800-807-8030 or email us at