The Millennial View: It’s all about the people

Our focus this month is on engaging our next generation of leaders: millennials. In this article we speak to professionals in their late 20s and early 30s about why it’s so important to seek out and value the input of a diverse range of people.


He aha te mea nui o te ao
What is the most important thing in the world?

He tangata, he tangata, he tangata
It is the people, it is the people, it is the people

Maori proverb


Let us shine

When speaking to our millennial panel, what shone through was their desire to work hard, be challenged, and to prove themselves. As one of our millennial contributors said, ‘We value it when our workplaces create and offer opportunities for us to step up and show our talent.’

Be sure to consider a diverse range of people for bigger projects and harder tasks, not just those who speak up most or those you naturally gravitate towards. Whether stretch assignments end in success or failure, they are an opportunity to learn and grow.


Get in the room

‘We live in an era where things are constantly changing and you need to keep up,’ says Joanna Shyu, Digital Consultant at IBM. ‘The only way to do that is to get in the habit of forever learning. Challenge yourself to learn new things and have comfort knowing that sometimes if you don’t know the ins and outs of a certain topic or project, just being in the room will help you learn.’ This is particularly the case with people who have different skills and experience to you, which is why it’s so important to seek out and value the input of a diverse range of people.


Make us feel valued

Don’t forget to thank your team when they go the extra mile: ‘We want reward for notable extra effort,’ said our panellists. ‘Take an interest in our professional development and find a way to make us and the work we do (at work) valued – a pay cheque is simply not enough, we like to hear/see/feel we are valued too.’


Find your own way to network

It’s time to switch your perception of networking from ‘30-50 people in a room with canapés’ to whatever helps you dig a little deeper and genuinely get to know someone, says Joanna Shyu. ‘My networking is having coffee catch ups, hallway hellos, yarns over lawn bowls. […] You’d be surprised how often opportunities come up to learn more and/or to open the door to your next big challenge!’

Unconscious bias means that we gravitate to people who look and sound like us, so ‘consciously uncouple’ yourself from this bias and approach someone you might not normally chat to.


Get a mentor (who’s younger than you)

Millennials have grown up on social networks, technology and teamwork. Through ‘reverse mentoring’ you can harness this change-ready, always-on mentality and learn new ways of working that could transform the way you and your team operate. Reverse mentoring can help us to push boundaries in the way we ideate, create and collaborate together.



Case Study
Ports of Auckland

Ports of Auckland have a 360° mentoring programme in place that is designed to optimise the way people of different generations work together. Entry level staff are paired up with an executive team member from outside the department that they are working in. Executive team members take the opportunity to get feedback on what they see that doesn’t make sense, what they would recommend gets changed and what skills need to be developed for the future. The executives are also challenged to think about the world through the eyes of a different generation. Diane Edwards – their GM People, Systems and Technology – says that the programme enables Ports of Auckland to optimise age diversity so that everyone benefits from people’s different skills and experience.