Without doubt, there is an important transition in your career from being the “newbie” at the office to taking on more responsibility and evolving into a more seasoned role model, and even leader, within your organization. Many millennials are becoming leaders and even more want to step into leadership roles. I sat down with my friend Lindsey Pollak, millennial workplace expert and spokesperson for The Hartford’s My Tomorrow campaign, to hear about how employees can move on to “next-level” leadership.
Alex: What are some tips you can offer to individuals who are looking to gain their first promotion at work?
Lindsey: Try to go from asking the questions to answering them. Here is one way to practice: When there is a new hire on your team, take on the role of mentor. Try to forge a relationship where you become a resource for the person – regardless of his or her level or age. Start small with things like where to get the best coffee or lunch, and you’ll likely find that you become a resource for more important questions, too.
Nearly all millennials (96 percent) in The Hartford’s 2014 annual consumer survey feel they bring new skills to the workplace. One way to use these skills to gain a promotion is to take part in a co-mentoring (also known as reverse mentoring) relationship with a more senior person. You can share your knowledge in areas, such as social media, while the more senior person can impart wisdom about your industry or lessons learned from previous experiences. Co-mentoring also helps younger employees gain visibility with senior leaders in the company.
Finally, speak up in a positive way about what you would like to change in your job, making sure to illustrate how it benefits the company, too. For example, perhaps you have an idea for creating a shared folder for client background research that you can create to save everyone time and effort.
Alex: What resources can promotion-seekers use to give them a leg-up in the process?
Lindsey: Research, research, research. Landing a new job or promotion means knowing your interviewer or manager closely. LinkedIn is the best place to learn about people in a professional way. (Encouragingly, workers ages 25-34 are 1.25 times more likely to visit LinkedIn than the average website).
But, be careful not to focus all your attention online. It’s important for leaders to be tech-savvy, but not tech-reliant. In The Hartford’s 2013 Millennial Leadership Survey, 86 percent of millennials said the use of social media holds some importance to being an effective leader, but is not the only contributor. It’s still important to build face-to-face relationships with people at all levels of your organization. “Can I take you out for a cup of coffee?” is as powerful a resource as any other.
What are other ways millennials can demonstrate leadership outside of the office?
Think through different communities you are a part of, such as a neighborhood, and pinpoint where there are opportunities for you to assert yourself as a leader and really make improvements. The Hartford’s 2013 Millennial Leadership Survey found millennials consider themselves a leader today in many areas outside the workplace:
- Family and friends groups (64 percent),
- Personal interests or hobbies (50 percent), and
- School (36 percent)
Also, 73 percent of those surveyed said they aspire to be a leader in the next five years whether they feel like leaders today or not. To accomplish your own leadership goals, look for opportunities within your community groups, sports teams, volunteer activities, professional associations and even your circle of friends.