Silly Rabbit, Change is for Kids
FEDmanager recently reported that federal senior executives feel underequipped to fulfill their responsibilities and to drive change at their agencies.
New resources aren't likely to materialize anytime soon, but executives and managers are overlooking a source of help that's right under their noses: their younger employees. Millennials have spent their entire lives dealing with constant change and adapting to new technologies and practices, and they have a lot of practice helping the older people in their life adjust as well. Based on my experiences as a Millennial who works in organizational change management and what I've heard doing research on Millennials in the federal government, here are three tips for executives and managers in driving positive change:
- Let yourself be a lifetime learner, with all the vulnerability that entails. One of the perks of being younger is that you have permission to not know things and to look foolish trying to learn them. Seek out new things and embrace the weirdness that comes from learning them, because that keeps you mentally flexible and grows your skills to keep learning. Nothing gets in the way of that process quicker than the need to prove yourself the omnipotent leader.
- Give yourself time. The one thing young people have more than anything else is time, especially in a world where they have to wait longer and longer to move forward in their careers or even to launch them. Change is a journey that requires time spent being uncomfortable to get you to your destination. There are new apps and tools being released every day that can stymie even the most tech-savvy Millennial, but they spend the time learning new things and all of those awkward attempts add up. Each new skill or experience is another boost towards the next new thing.
- Ask for help. The one thing the Internet does better than anything else is connect people. Young people are constantly using their phones and computers to find peers and communities where they can ask questions. Asking for help is awkward, but it keeps us in the right mindset to learn. You can't learn while you're speaking. For example, less than half of surveyed federal executives "believe current leaders understand how to effectively manage an multigenerational workforce." Anyone in a relationship knows that the best way to get along with someone is to ask them what they need and to take their responses seriously. Apply this to bridging generational gaps.
We all have something to learn from each other, regardless of age. More change is coming and no one wants their leaders and managers to be effective in managing it more than their youngest employees, who have the most time in federal service still in front of them. Let them help you.
Joseph Maltby serves on the National Leadership Team for Young Government Leaders, an association of young leaders across the federal government seeking to educate, inspire, and transform, as well as serve as a coordinated voice, for current and future leaders in government. Joseph works as an internal consultant for a federal agency and, in his spare time, creates short educational videos on topics in government, law, and politics.
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