I hope we’ve made a compelling case that the generations issue is important to how you run your association. It’s not about responding to the newest generation – the Millennials – in a reactive way. It’s understanding there is a bigger shift happening right now. We certainly have to understand and deal with the Millennials – there are a lot of them – but don’t fall into the trap of thinking there is a “normal” way to do things, and Millennials are coming in and challenging that normal. It’s bigger than that.
I know it sounds trite, but change is the new normal, so here are three tips for dealing with that:
1. Continue learning about generations. But NOT with the focus of figuring them out or narrowing down to the “answer” about what to do. It’s not going to be that simple. Instead, learn with curiosity in mind. Learn and read and explore WITHOUT knowing ahead of time how you’re going to apply what you have learned. Heck, even learn a bit about the overlooked Generation X. If you’re learning, you’ll be better off.
2. Focus on alignment. A successful culture is one that aligns what is valued with what drives the success of the enterprise. Your job is not to create the one, perfect culture. Your job is to create a culture that works, and because your employee base (and soon, your member base) is changing, your culture needs to change, too. How can you bring your culture into alignment with today’s reality? You don’t have to change everything, but figure out some things to change to create that tighter alignment.
3. Follow their lead. As I said, this is not about just reacting to the Millennials and trying to mimic their approach blindly in the hope to be attractive to them. But don’t overlook the opportunity that their new perspective is offering you. Pay attention to the way they are choosing to both lead and follow in today’s environment, and find some ways to build their perspectives into experiments for new ways of leading and managing.
I know I wrote a book titled “When Millennials Take Over,” but the title is a bit of a tease. This is a team effort, people; it’s never about only ONE generation. Llet’s start working together to create the future of leadership in associations.
Is your association effectively dealing with generational changes?