3 things to consider if you want to attract millennials onto your Boards

More and more, we are seeing companies and charitable organisations making efforts to attract millennials into their Non-Executive or Leadership Boards.

Although these statements below are fairly general statements, they are very helpful for Baby Boomer and Boomer II generations to consider in order to attract millennials to offer their time, energies and skills (particularly in digital) to Boards and Executive teams.

  1. Millennials are values and authenticity driven

If an organisation doesn’t know its mission, vision and values, or can’t communicate that effectively, then the millennial is going to want to help the org identify, name, and promote its fundamental raison d’être! Millennials join Boards where their energy and efforts will produce outcome and impact for the common good and for the development of other human beings. Don’t fob off a millennial for not having a particular skill necessary to join your Board. If your organisation’s mission aligns totally with their values, the millennial is going to learn and eventually master that skill in order to be of better service to the organisation’s mission.

If an organisation has their mission, vision and values clearly defined, but don’t live out the ethos authentically in its BAU and culture, the Board will soon lose (or not even attract) its millennial.

2. Millennials appreciate good governance, fairness and transparency

Organisations that harbour secrecy and exclusivity within its organisational culture and performance is a turn off to millennials. This is a generation of people who believe in equality, diversity and value. It believes in fairness, openness and healthy governance to achieve those things, and that requires selfless and humble leadership. If you want to bring a millennial into your Board, be prepared to answer to injustice, abuse of power and hidden agendas – because they will bring it up as an agenda item if they sense it existing anywhere in the organisation.

Likewise, millennials will use their position as leaders to prevent any case for injustice, abuse of power and hidden agendas. They’re generally prepared to stand up for what is right. This means that Boards need to be prepared to hear things that they might not want to hear or that potentially cause discomfort.

3. Millennials are the perfect inter-technological generation to seek expertise from

Millennials are the generation that had the best of both worlds: playing outside in the garden eating worms and playing at home on their gameboys, Nintendos or Sega consoles. They learned to touch type to 65wpm at the age of 14 (well, at least I did) but also developed inter-personal communication skills in the playgrounds close to home. Digital is a natural and efficient environment to be manoeuvring and using; so if a millennial combines their digital with their effective communication skills, you’ll discover heart-led and meaningful business solutions that will increase outreach and engagement with clients, customers or beneficiaries in the post millennial generations.

Last few words…

Millennials have become victims of its preceding generation’s tendencies. Previously, recruitment into Boards (and even into employable positions) was based on a candidate proving that they already had the necessary skills to do the job. I sincerely believe it’s time for a change in that regard. Boomers deserve congratulations for having worked hard and merited the skills to the high levels they have developed. Part of the reason for this is that the Boomer generations have often spent many more years on average in the same organisations, meaning their leadership experience tends to be more secure. Millennials don’t stay in the same organisations for as long. Therefore, their leadership skills are developed differently. If you feel that a potential candidate might not have the leadership experience you are looking for in your Board, provided you have a strong existing group of leaders capable of mentoring or supporting the millennial, then give the millennial a chance to show you what they’re really capable of. The millennial leader is a natural change-maker and will invest surprising amounts of time and energy in bringing the organisation closer to its fundamental mission, vision and values.

My Screenless Weekend

Here’s what happened when I turned off all my devices for an extended weekend…

In 2016, I managed a web-app project targeted at 14-18 year olds. As part of our direct field research, I interviewed target audience members on their device usage and their time online. Here were some interesting statistics on the device usage and online habits of our 14-18 year olds during a typical school day:

  • 60% spent up to one hour on a PC
  • 66% spent between two and four hours on their phones
  • Online usage averaged at just over three and a half hours
  • 13% spent between nine and twelve hours on devices

During the weekend, the largest majority, which was one third, of the target audience spent between nine and twelve hours online in one day.

At the time, these statistics shocked me. However, recently, I have noticed how stressed my eyes were feeling. The major symptom of this was when my eyes struggled to focus between looking at my phone close up, and then looking up to a television three metres ahead of me. I decided to review my own device usage and online habits.

On a work day, I often spend between eight and twelve hours a day on a device, with nearly all of it being online. I’m a first wave millennial and grew up enjoying the outdoors as well as console gaming on a Nintendo SNES and Gameboy. It was definitely a better balance than the one I have now. It’s clear that I’ve lost that balance, so I set myself a challenge to turn off all devices for a good eighty hours between a Thursday night and a Monday mid-morning, away from home, to kick-start a more balanced screen routine. I had a great appreciation for what happened.

My screenless weekend became an unexpected wake-up call… literally. At home, my Lumie wakes me up. I didn’t have this whilst away. I would have used my phone as my alarm clock, but hadn’t thought about this when packing. Neither had I thought about how I’m going to tell the time! This revealed to me how much I rely on my phone for keeping schedule and to a degree, dictate my actions of the day. I was at the mercy of a friend to wake me up on time, and either had to measure the time by looking at the daylight outside the window, or finding a clock in the house. I found this to be an incredibly liberating experience. It reminded me that there is only so much in my life that I’m in control of, and that it has been a long time since I could simply ‘BE’ for a period of time longer than one hour, as opposed to ‘DO!’. It connected me to a deeper freedom that opened up the door to a beautiful perspective of life. Disciplining myself to turn phone, laptop, iPad and TV off restored an essence of clarity and openness to the world outside of myself, not to mention clarity of sight. So by the third day, not only had my physical eyes freshened up, but it appeared that my interior sense of sight (my perspective) had also received a ‘screenwash’. It’s something I’ll assess when putting together my personal 2020 goals during the month of December!

 

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