A five-part strategy to turn your millennial workforce into lethal weapons.

Business leaders, commit your full attention to this blog post.  Because we're about to demystify the millennial workforce for you and deliver a proven strategy to drive their performance. And it's not going to be boring.

Let me start by telling you who I am.

  1. millennial.
  2. Co-Founder of a company that drives millennial sales team performance.
  3. A diehard Lethal Weapon fan

Have I established my credibility? Good. Because I'm about to walk you through a simple, five-part strategy for managing your millennial workforce.

Combined, the five core components I'm about to discuss do two things.

  1. They spell out an easy-to-remember acronym. R.I.G.G.S.
  2. They cover all the bases of millennial performance management. 

Use this strategy to improve every facet of millennial performance management: Hiring. Training. Retention. Feedback. Coaching.

What I'm about to discuss is rapidly becoming the new gospel of business leadership. It's worked in our clients. And it will work for you.

R.I.G.G.S. Accountability in the Workplace

If you haven't yet seen a Lethal Weapon movie, here's the core backstory you should know.

Lieut. Martin Riggs is a gifted, undisciplined and difficult-to-control officer on the L.A. police force. He teams up with a straight-laced veteran leader on the force, Roger Murtaugh, to take down some of L.A.'s worst criminals.

Over the course of their partnership, Murtaugh helps Riggs channel his hair-trigger temper and unbalanced emotions in a positive manner.

Murtaugh must figure out, control and save his complex partner from his own brash, wayward behavior. In other words, he can empathize with many a Generation X or Boomer manager grappling with a team of young, fickle performers.

The bottom line: The tenuous, initial relationship between Roger Murtaugh and Martin Riggs makes for an appropriate point-of-reference when it comes to millennial management. 

So now that you have some background, let's get to the 5 core components of the R.I.G.G.S. strategy: 1) Recognition. 2) Incentives. 3) Goals. 4) Games. 5) Systems.  

Accountability in the Workplace Key #1. Recognition

Recognition and rewards are vital components of any millennial performance management strategy. Whether you run a sales, marketing, account management or engineering team, you need a sound recognition gameplan within your core strategy.

Millennials are notoriously hungry for feedback and expect positive recognition when they're performing well. To optimize recognition, follow the acronym: TARP2C2

  1. Timely. 
  2. Authentic. 
  3. Relevant.
  4. Public. 
  5. Personalized. 
  6. Contexualized. 
  7. Consistent.

Accountability in the Workplace Key #2. Incentives

Across all business sectors, it's time for company leadership to begin thinking more strategically about performance incentives. What they should be. How and when they should be divvied out. How effective they are at enhancing motivation and retention. 

We've covered the subject of sales incentives at length both here on the Ambition Blog and elsewhere. Our post on the Kitedesk blog detailing the future of sales incentives is pertinent across all sectors of business, especially on the commercial side.

The key for millennial managers: Clarify, stratify and personalize performance incentives. To flesh those out, clarifying performance incentives means being up-front and transparent about incentive opportunities, and tying those opportunities to clear peformance goals.

Stratification means setting multiple tiers of incentives so that your top and middle performers have a shot at earning some kind of reward for their performance. Finally, personalizing performance incentives means tailoring rewards to the desires of your workforce as much as possible, something covered very well in this USA Today article.

Accountability in the Workplace Key #3. Goals

Clear, compelling goals are perhaps the most important thing you can give to your millennial workforce.  Most business professionals are familiar with the concept of S.M.A.R.T. goals, but it doesn't hurt to do a quick refresher. S.M.A.R.T. sets forth the basic principles of effective goal setting, by laying out five characteristics of an effective goal:

  1. Specific
  2. Measurable
  3. Attainable
  4. Relevant
  5. Time-Bound

Make sense? Good. The next step, then, is to apply those five principles to 4 critical professional areas for your millennials:

  1. Contribution (performance benchmarks that impact bottom-line)
  2. Capabilities (development and mastery of core competencies)
  3. Career (development of skills that further professional growth)
  4. Connections (building and strengthening professional networks)

Chances are, your company already is proactively tracking at least 1-2 of these 4 areas. The goal moving forward should be to continue refining existing goal tracking strategies while gradually incorporating all 4 C's into your goal-setting program. End result: A well-rounded, fully-developed goal strategy for each individual employee.

For the ambitious, you can also segment goals into short-term, intermediate and long-term targets. But we advise focusing foremost on setting and tracking short-term goals.

You can create those by working backwards from the top-line intermediate and long-term goals each employee may have. Final keys:

  1. Avoid setting and forgetting. To keep goals top of mind, make each target (and progress towards it) as visible as possible for each employee.
  2. Don't expect blind obedience. Ensure team members understand why each goal matters to their professional growth.
  3. Provide mentorship along the way. Each goal should have a roadmap to success - be that a training program, regularly-scheduled 1:1 coaching sessions, mentorship opportunities or otherwise.

Accountability in the Workplace Key #4. Games

Yes, games. However superficial you may deem them, creating structured workplace competitions will organically enhance the recognition, incentives and goals you provide to your millennial employees. 

Moreover, they can increase general feelings of connectivity, creative and collaboration amongst your workforce. The Harvard Business Review's case study on a a Fortune 1000 company who created an internal "Fantasy Sales League" illustrates the powerful impacts that a well-designed competition can have on a millennial workforce.

Though most often applied within a sales department, employee competitions can be equally impactful amongst marketing, account management and customer service teams. In addition, Ambition clients have achieved a high level of success with both intra-department and inter-department competitions among those units.

Studies show that millennials are highly competitive, have a tendency to vie for positive attention and value recognition and opportunities for growth in the workplace. The best way to unleash the attributes in a positive way is to create a (healthy) competitive environment at work.

Accountability in the Workplace Key #5. Systems

The final component of the R.I.G.G.S. strategy is systems. To effectively drive performance across your entire millennial workforce, you need to create systems that engender a culture of success. 

Historically, the elite leaders in both business and professional/collegiate athletics have always built dynasties the same way: via a system.

Red Auerbach and the 1960s Boston Celtics had their system. Pat Summitt had her system. Nick Saban has his system (literally dubbed "The System"). Hell, we published an entire blog post devoted to curating insights into how legendary sports leaders achieved greatness using the same principles that apply in business.

Systems are the actualization of a company's core mission, goals and philosophy in its day-to-day processes. As such, their existence and effectiveness (or lack thereof) will be the defining factor of how well you recruit, develop and retain millennial talent. A post we did awhile back outlined 3 successful cultures, all of which were built around core systems, that successfully drove business team performance

If you read that post, you'll notice key characteristic amongst the companies profiled (Zappos, HubSpot and Alert1): they all went to great lengths to publicize their systems, instill employee belief in the system and provide a strong sense of purpose in each employee performance impacted the system. 

At the end of the day, the thesis set forth by ExecVision CRO Steve Richard in Sales Leadership in 2 Words applies across every sector of one's business: Create a system of consistency and accountability.

R.I.G.G.S.: Accountability for the Millennial Workforce

Like the Lethal Weapon franchise, implementing R.I.G.G.S. in your millennial workforce will be a prolonged, multi-part process. Done correctly, it will deliver equally satisfying results. Get started now.

If you have questions about how Ambition can help accelerate this process and ensure that you maximize millennial performance, feel free to contact us or shoot me an email at jared.houghton@ambition.com.

For general questions about improving millennial performance, join our 500+ member LinkedIn group, Managing Millennials - Best Practices and Discussion, and start a conversation.

Thanks for reading. And hope that Mel Gibson changes his mind about Lethal Weapon 5

Ambition: The Data-Driven Sales Management Platform 

Ambition is a sales management platform that syncs Salesforce and other data systems on one simple interface.

Ambition brings clarity, context, and visibility to sales performance and helps sales leaders manage people and operations more efficiently. Create compelling sales contests, reports, analytics, and recognition via simple drag-and-drop interface.    

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