40% of all companies currently employ 50 or more Millennial employees. Millennials will make up 75% of the workforce.
In reality, this is much ado about nothing. Today’s organizations should not attempt to build a culture around the common conception of a Millennial. Instead, they must focus on building a peak performance culture that will attract and retain the best talent among all demographics. After all, demographics don’t define employees—character does.
Millennial Employees are Just Like Everyone Else
Trending articles might tell you that Millennials are “job hoppers” who have specific, unique workplace needs. 34 years of experience building great organizations tells me otherwise.
In actuality, Millennials are just like everyone else. Some are fantastic, talented employees. Others are uninspired and unmotivated. And of course, many fall somewhere in between. In other words, they follow the same talent distribution as every generation before them. Organizations should not seek to specifically attract Millennials. They should instead try to attract peak performers.
What I know from years in the field is this: human beings all crave the same things. Meet their needs, and the peak performers in every generation will rise to the top . Those needs include:
Interconnectedness: Peak performance employees are motivated by a sense of connection to their colleagues and customers. When they see how others rely on them, and in turn, they rely on others, they feel like a vital part of the organization.
Advancement: Peak performers are unwilling to wait 3-5 years for a promotion and are encouraged by opportunities to grow and develop their careers. They are eager to advance, and they respond best to organizations that are invested in their growth. Organizations that show no interest in providing growth opportunities or take too long to promote their top employees are likely to lose them.
Social Responsibility: Although peak performers are motivated by financial rewards and advancement, they also seek out jobs that they feel are beneficial to others as well. They are much more apt to be loyal to an employer if they feel as though they are making a positive contribution in the world.
How to Create a Peak Performance Culture for Every Employee
Accommodating the demands of the stereotypical Millennial employee will leave you spinning your wheels, trying to understand why your organization isn’t thriving. Instead, attract peak performers of all ages and demographics by taking a strong approach to develop an organizational culture that reinforces the values of interconnectedness, advancement, and social responsibility that attract top talent.
Organizational culture must be both intentional and congruent. Successful culture cannot be created by default—it must be deliberately cultivated. By the same token, company culture will not survive or thrive if the organization’s stated culture is not congruent with the employee experience.
An intentional and congruent organizational culture will benefit all employees, but it will specifically appeal to peak performers who demand transparency, accountability, and integrity in the workplace.
Peak Performance Culture: What is It, and How Does it Motivate Top Talent?
A peak performance culture operationalizes the organization’s greatest intentions and creates a positive work-life experience for employees at all levels. This type of environment can be implemented in any organization, from Silicon Valley start-ups to D.C. government agencies to Fortune 100 global businesses. And it resonates very strongly with today’s employees looking for both meaning and opportunity in the workplace.
Focusing on the following seven disciplines will create a peak performance culture within any organization and serve to engage and retain top talent at the same time.
Customer: Customers are the reason for any business. Peak performers who value integrity and social accountability want to work for a company that is enhancing the lives of its customers. Keep the main thing the main thing, and make the “why” visible to your employees.
Feedback: Again, integrity is key. Internal organizational integrity demands strong communication. Feedback helps motivated employees to grow and improve as team members and leaders, and it is a key component of any peak performance culture.
Interconnectedness: A workplace culture that emphasizes connection between leaders, peers, suppliers, and customers is one that will foster a sense of vitality among employees.
Possibility: Taking a positive approach to a negative situation engages and invigorates employees. When something unforeseen occurs, a peak performance culture asks, “What is possible?” rather than lamenting, “Something is wrong.”
Social Contracting: Language is action. Employees in a peak performance culture recognize this fact and use language appropriately in order to distinguish clearly between requests, statements, and commands. Using clear language provides the transparency and integrity that attracts peak performers in the workplace.
Power: In a peak performance culture, key stakeholders are deeply aligned and have the ability to take action in order to achieve their goals. For talented professionals, having the power to act is a very strong motivator.
Moral Courage: Today’s peak performers value integrity in the workplace and will not hesitate to leave if they don’t perceive this trait at their organization. An organizational culture that rewards those who take a stand for what they believe is right will engage these individuals in meaningful ways.
Stop trying to cater specifically to Millennials, and the stereotypes surrounding them. Don’t fall into the trap of trying to attract an entire generation. Instead, focus your efforts on attracting the best candidates from every generation. These are the peak performers who will empower your organization to succeed