As we enter the 21st century, the Baby Boomer generation are slowly making way for the Gen X and the millennials to lead in business. Known to be very driven and empowered in their decisions, our millennials have a different way of working and how they see success. They look beyond a stable job and pay and place a great deal of emphasis on the bigger purpose in life. How do millennials change the workplace, what are the challenges and perks of working with these new generation of professionals?
MIA speaks to Millennial Consultant, Vivek Iyanni, to find out more.
Vivek, you have such an inspirational story. To start the ball rolling, tell us more about your background, your career, and your passion.
I am a professional speaker and author, and I specialise on the topic of Engaging Millennials in the workplace. I started out as an entrepreneur, providing leadership training programs and team building programs for schools, polytechnics, ITEs and colleges back in 2013 and over the years, I decided to focus on the issues that youths have as they enter adulthood. That led me to write my first book, Empowering Millennials, launched in 2017. After the book was launched, I got the attention of managers and corporates who wanted to train their leaders to manage and engage with the younger generation. After working with organisations and speaking on this topic for a while, I decided to release my findings on engaging the Millennial generation in another book called Engaging Millennials. Working with the youths, either by speaking or through coaching/consulting makes me feel very grateful to be doing the work that has an impact in other peoples’ lives.
You are an entrepreneur, coach, trainer, speaker and author. You have specifically chosen to focus your work on millennials. Tell us your big WHY.
My big WHY goes back to my core values of helping others, and having an adventure while pursuing growth. I believe that Millennials have been dealt a bad hand, suffered from bad media, and have our own unique struggles that the older generations didn’t have to experience. New trends such as social media, gig economy, working from home are all creating new problems which don’t come with simple answers. It is my belief that we cannot navigate a new world with an old map, so we have to lean-in to the problems that youths have today in order to find better solutions that are empowering in nature.
Currently, I feel that not enough is being done to empower youths to really pursue a life by design, and many are working hard to achieve other peoples’ dreams. For instance, I have never dreamt in my childhood to become an author, because I could never see it as a career with an iron rice bowl. However, as I started looking into how the world really works, I realised that the opportunities are there, but we are just not reaching out to grab it because of all the other internal things that hold us back. So it is my dream to help people to empower themselves to live a life of their own design, a life of fun, freedom, fortune and fulfilment.
I understand that your new book Engaging Millennials is a product of your years of working with the younger generation in organisations. Give us deeper insights on it.
I was inspired to write this book when I realised that many organisations are not keeping up with what the young generation want from the workplace. Over the past few decades, there have been financial crises, technological developments and even parenting styles have changed drastically and yet – organisations have not changed their ways of managing their biggest and strongest asset – their people.
The Millennials and Gen Z are coming into the workforce with a completely different idea of what it means to them to be successful. Thus, I feel it is so important for our leaders today to be able to engage with our leaders of tomorrow in order to sustain the business in a profitable manner. This means building an organisational culture that is Millennial inclusive – which takes into consideration what motivates them and engages them as employees in the workforce. If the leaders can get this right, people would be so much happier in their lives.
Engaging Millennials is a book written for HR Leaders, SME Bosses, and Directors who want to understand this generation better and be able to recruit, reward, and retain them better within their teams and organisations. It showcases the mistakes leaders make that repel Millennials from their organisations and expands on the 7 fundamentals that will make their organisation Millennial-Friendly and inclusive. It is out in the Times and Kinokuniya bookstores.
In your experience working with many millenials, tell us what makes them different and unique?
Millennials are tech savvy and communicate differently – they have developed their own lingo and text abbreviations and are very resourceful. Thanks to the internet, they are very vocal about issues that concern people around the globe. They like to challenge the norms to build better outcomes and increase efficiency in the things they do. They are more loyal to themselves than they are to the companies and are constantly seeking growth in all areas that they pursue. They also engage well in a supportive environment and community and believing in doing work that brings about a positive impact to the world.
What are the challenges organisations face in dealing with millennials? How can we strike a balance in creating an innovative and creative workplace where everyone thrives?
First and foremost, the biggest challenge organisations face is in creating a two-way communication channel between the Millennials and management. In many organisations, the conversation is purely a one-way street. The lack of dialogue and conversations about what Millennials want and expect from organisations prevents the possibility of developing a space of psychological safety. When there is a fear of communicating openly, people are afraid to say things like “I don’t know” or “I made a mistake” or “I disagree”. Striking a balance in creating an innovative and creative workplace where everyone thrives starts with having an open conversation and two-way dialogue about what we all want.
How important do you think personal branding is for millennials in this new century? How can they raise and establish themselves as a trusted individual with talents despite being young?
I always say this in my keynote talks – “Your first impression isn’t made in person anymore, it is made online.You are who Google says you are.” Before you go for a meeting, people are going to Google your name to know who you are and to see what comes up when they look you up. This means that for good results to pop up, you need to have a positive and empowering presence in the online world. And the way to go about that is to share your personality online, by commenting on topics that matter to you, by creating content either through articles, videos, or podcasts on topics that resonate with you. Think like Greta Thunberg – she is known to be passionate about the environment, and she speaks up about it even as a full time student. Have a voice about what you care about, be it personal or professional, and speak up about it with courage. That’s how they can raise their personal branding.
What are some of the important skills that millennials need to have to succeed in the corporate world or as an entrepreneur?
Learning to build an online presence and using that to develop strong connections and relationships through networking will be a valuable skill that will continue to bear fruits throughout their career, whether they are an entrepreneur or an employee.
What is your advice for employees who will be hiring millennials in their organisations?
This might seem counter intuitive, but sharing with the candidates a document on how they can ace their interview with you (best practices) will give you an edge over the rest who don’t. Also, get your current employees to be ambassadors of the company and to share the organisational culture online. Build a team of millenial ambassadors that promote working in your organisation so that the people from the outside can peek into how it is like to work in your organisation. Building this visibility increases your employer brand and trust within your client network as well.
Vivek, after all the work you have done and will be doing in many more years to come, if there is one thing you want to be remembered for, what would that be?
I would like to be remembered as someone who was brave enough to follow my dreams, had lots of fun and adventure in the pursuit of my dreams, and perhaps made a dent in the universe, doing the thing I love – helping others.
Thanks for being with us Vivek and for those wonderful insights. For those who are keen to get in touch with you, what are the best channels to get to you?
They can scan the QR code and get connected straight away to me! 🙂