Engaging the Millennial Workforce with the C4 Method: Communicate, Cooperate, Collaborate & Co-Create

If you’ve been listening to my podcast, you probably know that I’ve been a broken record about the fact that customer experience is about leadership. It’s about showing up as an elevated kind of company in the marketplace, admired not only by how you grow, but also by what you don’t do, and how you choose to grow.

It’s also about how you enable your people to bring the best version of themselves to work. And whether you’re working remotely or in an office these days, you may be thinking about how to increase employee engagement and connection, two aspects of work that my guest, Dr. Philip Zimmerman, claims are incredibly important to millennials.

According to Dr. Zimmerman’s research, millennials currently make up about 50% of the workforce and it will behoove you to understand their style of work—what they look for in leadership, and how they respond as consumers. Dr. Zimmerman is a life coach, the founder of Engineering Leadership Design Company, and an author of Unleash the Millennials: and Save the World. He has spent over the last decade digging into research about millennials and their attitudes towards their professional lives.

In a conversation we recently had on my LinkedIn Live, Dr. Zimmerman and I spoke about the millennial desire for purpose-driven work that aligns with their personal values, the need to understand why the work is done, and how to best come together in the workforce. We explore his “C4” framework that every organization should pay attention to: communicate, cooperate, collaborate, and co-create.

Does Your Organization’s Values and Culture Appeal to the Desires of the New Workforce?

According to Dr. Zimmerman, millennials desire to be engaged in a workplace community, to manage some semblance of work/life balance, to be a part of a team that celebrates diversity and inclusion, and to have opportunities for career advancement. He suggests that the C4 method helps foster stronger connections between employees, leaders, and especially, millennials.

The C4 Method for Organizational Engagement

1. COMMUNICATE

“Millenials are global citizens in a global environment. They’re connected through their technology and they want to use technology to make their lives easier,” says Dr. Zimmerman. It’s critical to know how to use technology to properly communicate ideas and foster connection as a team.

He also explains that millennials appreciate leaders who “feel human,” who will allow them to voice their opinions, and understand different perspectives without judgment.

2. COOPERATE

Dr. Zimmerman states that millennials “want alignment with their career path, career path advancement opportunities, and work-life balance.” As leaders, how are you able to work with your team to find a common ground that works to support your employees and your business?

He says, “if your people share the same values that you have, and they’re able to express that in what they do, they will be so happy. They will they will be infectious to your your client base and they will be great corporate citizens.” Further stating that millennials are happy to stay at their current place of employment if it aligns with their values.

3. COLLABORATE

“This whole idea of community is important; it is extremely important for millennials,” says Dr. Zimmerman. He believes that as a leader, it’s important to make yourself available to the team and to check-in when you can. Help people feel less isolated and assess the work that was done for the day or the week to avoid unnecessary issues in the future. Use technology to communicate and collaborate.

4. CO-CREATE

Co-creating is what happens when all of the previous tenets lineup. Dr. Zimmerman also shares that, as millennials continue to increase their presence in the workforce, ultimately, they will create the culture that they want. And they will be unstoppable.

What Do You Know Now That You Wish You Knew Then?

Dr. Zimmerman says:

“I would have liked to have known that nothing really changes. That you take yourself wherever you go. A lot of times, we’re always trying to escape ourselves to create a new reality that we’ll fit into. The reality is, you always take yourself wherever you go. And so, as opposed to changing your exterior, the best thing to do is to change your interior and your outlook on what life is all about. That’s the beauty of aligning and developing.”

About Dr. Philip Zimmerman

Dr. Philip Zimmerman Philip Zimmerman is Founder and President of Engineering Leadership Design Company, LLC; Founder and Principle of ZIMMERMAN Coaching Group; and Founder and Principle of KiteSurfers Academy (see: Services section of this website). He is an International Coach Federation (ICF) Professional Certified Coach (PCC), a registered Professional Engineer (PE), and holds a doctorate degree in organizational leadership program.

Vocationally, Philip is an active executive and Millennial coach, consultant, author, and speaker who for the past fifteen years has been developing, empowering, and unleashing Millennial talent for Connected Age workspaces.


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