Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Meg Whitman: Listening to Millennials

Forbes has a great interview with Meg Whitman this week.  In it, she talks about listening carefully to millennials in her organization.  Here's an excerpt:  

Whitman says “entitled is too strong a word” to define new graduates, but even that isn’t so bad. In fact, the impatience of today’s youth is useful at a $50 billion sales corporation like Hewlett Packard Enterprise. “They refuse to work on things that do not matter,” she says. She receives emails frequently from young hires complaining that a project they are working on isn’t going anywhere. That’s surprising, but it’s also useful.  “You would be surprised how many projects we’ve killed because a 22-year-old says, ‘That’s stupid,’ ” Whitman told the audience. “It’s a little annoying honestly.”

I've argued in the past that senior executives need to listen to young people.  They hear about new trends, ideas, and perspectives from these people.  Moreover, they often represent a key target market for their goods and services.  Finally, as one executive told me, "They are stupid enough to tell me the truth."  It made me laugh, but it was also a profound statement.  He meant that these young people did not worry about offending the boss or losing their job.  They were more willing to speak their mind, in a way that some older workers were not in his organization.   Young people do not have the experience to always know the right answers on tough issues, but they bring a fresh lens to problems.  You do not have to agree with them, or give them their way, but you can learn from them.  

No comments: