Developing the Whole Person

Excerpt from “A Manager’s Guide to Unleashing the Intrapreneur” by Debbie Wooldridge.

Millennials don’t just want to spend their time earning a paycheck; they want to invest time acquiring the skills and knowledge they need to grow both personally and professionally. This generation views work through an entirely different lens as compared to previous generations. They prioritize personal fulfillment and professional development (found rarely in the workplace anymore and widely varied at companies that do offer such opportunities) over cash bonuses and 401(k) programs (commodities many companies do provide).

Learning philosophies have shifted; we now have a better understanding of what’s effective in learning and what isn’t. We’ve really gotten to know our adult learners over the decades, and have grown in strides during the more recent years. However, lifelong learning is a continued commitment because our learners are still changing.

As more and more Millennials join organizations and even more move into leadership positions, we need to take a hard look at how prepared we are to provide for their needs—from new hire training to job-specific training and career development. Millennials have been adamant that they want different things out of their learning experiences, and you can be the one to provide the key opportunities that will help engage and retain them!

Following the suggestions below can help ensure you are offering engaging content and development experiences that focus on what your intrapreneurs really care about:

Tip #1: Onboard with intention. Millennials put a premium on doing work that truly matters. During your onboarding of new team members, don’t just drop a company handbook filled with policies and procedures on their desk. And, please, don’t plug them into antiquated e-learning modules about rules and regulations! Instead, invest your time, resources, and training dollars to educate new employees extensively about your company’s goals and visions. Share the history, but do it in a way that connects and resonates with a generation that has grown up with technology! Be sure that at the conclusion of onboarding, your new team members know where you and your company are looking to go and that they can help you get there in a meaningful and challenging way.

Tip #2: Go mobile. Too many companies are still offering training on clunky, disjointed systems that are inconvenient to access. Millennials have literally grown up alongside technological advancements. They are well aware of the opportunities out there and are 100 percent comfortable using their mobile device as a learning portal. If your training isn’t available whenever and wherever your team wants to access it, it may as well not exist.

Tip #3: Create engaging content. Speaking of technology—not only is the ability to access training content from anywhere at any time important—the content must be high quality and extremely engaging. Keep in mind that your content is competing against the ever-advancing technologies found on the Internet. If your content is boring, dated, or poorly executed, you will quickly lose your Millennial audience. Companies that require employees to sit through training that does not resonate send a strong message—this company is not RELEVENT!

Tip #4: Learn by doing. The ability to apply recently acquired knowledge instantly is important to Millennials. In an era where you can quickly go to YouTube to view a video on how to do just about anything, Millennials need the same approach to learning content. Build practice activities and meaningful performance-based assessments into your training content. This gives Millennials the instant context and feedback they crave. As an added bonus, this dramatically increases the likelihood they’ll actually retain and apply what they have just learned. Win-win!

Tip #5: Say goodbye to traditional training. A side-by-side comparison survey of learning preferences (ttcInnovations, 2016) between Millennials and managers found that while Millennials said they like to learn best from peers, mentors, or their own independent research, managers thought Millennials preferred to learn in self-paced online courses, virtual classes, and Webinars.

Millennials overwhelmingly responded in a panel interview that they learned best from hands-on experiences. Does this mean we should get rid of traditional learning? No, not at all. But you do need to assess your current offerings to see if they are still practical for the emerging workforce:

  • Instructor-led training: This is definitely a great option for Millennial training—however, you need to be sure the training is engaging, relevant, and immediately applicable. This has great potential because it provides the opportunity for face-to-face communication and collaboration, as well as immediate feedback.
  • Virtual instructor-led training: This is a dynamic learning option for organizations with a dispersed population and a need to train at minimal cost. A high level of engagement is critical. Good training engages the learner—we all know this. Engaging someone who has grown up texting while listening to music and checking e-mail all at the same time takes extra effort. Virtual learning cannot be a talking head, and it especially cannot be a talking head who rests on the same PPT slide for 10 consecutive minutes.
  • Online training: This is also a wonderful option for a dispersed population. Learners can go at their own pace and consume at a rate that is appropriate for them. But, contrary to popular belief, just because a course is online does not mean it is Millennial friendly. Boring online training is just as bad as monotone, talking-head instructor-led training—maybe even worse, as it doesn’t even have the benefit of human connection an instructor provides.

Excerpt from “A Manager’s Guide to Unleashing the Intrapreneur” by Debbie Wooldridge. For more information, visit

Debbie Wooldridge is the founding president and CEO of DW Training and Development Inc. (dba ttcInnovations), which provides businesses with engaging learning solutions that adopt a host of performance support options. Her company also created The Millennial Project.  She is the author of A Manager’s Guide to Unleashing the Intrapreneur.” Wooldridge currently lives in Carlsbad, CA, with her husband and is a mother to twin Millennials.

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