"I really like this place but man I just wish I knew where we're going as an organization." "To be honest...outside of my role I have no clue what's going on around here." I can't tell you how many times I've heard comments like these from people inside of seemingly great companies.
Have you ever been there? Are you there now?
You can't help but think, "What's wrong with that leadership team?" or "These leaders need to be better communicators and open up about what's going on around here!" Frustration runs deep.
Here's the challenge gang; most leaders today grew up in the hierarchy where communication was typically delivered on a "need to know" basis and guess what, most of the time they didn't need to know. At least not until they had "earned a seat at the table" or "paid their dues".
Historically in many organizations leadership saw little need or value in overly sharing and communicating with "subordinates". The best one could hope for was enough information to do your job.
Insight into the corporate strategy? Forget about it. Details on what other business units are working on? Come on dude!
As a result, slowly but surely today's leaders, earlier in their career, learned to adopt the philosophy of no news is good news. In fact the thought became, as long as you're not getting yelled at, you're probably doing just fine. They learned to accept the realities around what would and wound not be shared with the culture.
Fast forward to today and we see a transformation taking place. Brought on by egalitarian parents, technology, and the internet, today's younger generations, empowered with the ability to access people at any level and information on any subject are bringing new expectations into the workplace.
Today's young talent expect leaders to share strategy about where the company is going and how their individual role fits into that larger picture. We want in on those conversations happening behind closed doors and when the offer isn't extended, we get frustrated. Worse we get skeptical. We disengage. We leave.
Understandably this is a tall order for anyone who's been navigating the hierarchy for 20+ years and was on the receiving end of little to no big picture information, feedback, and strategy.
Unfortunately leaders don't have a choice today. If you want to attract the best talent, keep the best talent, maximize the potential of the best talent, you have to evolve and embrace a new mindset around communication and transparency. The days of no news is good news have had their day.
At the same time as we ask leadership to do the hard work of shaking of the unwritten rules of the hierarchy they grew up with, I think we as the younger generations need a history lesson on how the world of work and leadership has evolved in the last 30 years. How about the last 10 years!?
Because while we all want to shout to the roof top that our leaders today need to wake up to a new style of leadership, we have to consider the impact growing up in the hierarchy had on them.
My question for leaders to consider today is, "How did growing up in the hierarchy impact you as a leader today? How have you adapted your style for today's new world of work?
If you're a Millennial, "How do you think the hierarchy impacted the leadership at your company and what can you do to help them be more open to change around transparency?