What Companies are Doing Right to Groom Millennials Leaders

31 Dec 2018 Posted in ⟨For Business Leaders⟩

Millennials make up the largest generation in the Singaporean workforce and there’s no doubt that they will one day take on the mantle of leadership. Grooming them for the task, however, requires a different approach given that they possess different values from their predecessors such as openness, authenticity and unconventionality.


So what changes should organisations be making to groom their millennial leaders? Here are 6 practices that some of the best companies in Singapore and around the world are currently implementing.


The ManpowerGroup’s 2016 global study, Millennial Careers: 2020 Vision, found that 93 per cent of millennials believe in skills development and some are willing to pay for it out of their own pocket. Skills development however, is more than just training programmes.

While every organisation has different learning requirements, the CIPD’s “Developing the Next Generation Report” proposes the 70:20:10 principle. A practical and holistic approach to learning and development used by organisations such as Nike and even NTU, it divides learning into 70% from experience, 20% from others and 10% from formal training.

View Course: CIPD Level 3 – Diploma in Learning and Development




John Ryan, CEO of the Center for Creative Leadership, recommends nourishing the millennial hunger for learning and development by continually confronting them with new challenges. However, this does not necessarily equate to awarding a promotion.

“Don’t push them up the ladder because this is not how you accelerate development, but give them challenging tasks. All our research tells us that when you give people this, they will grow because 70 percent of what we learn in our profession is done on the job.”

Some ideas for “challenges” include working with a new team, speaking in front of a small or large group, or leading a project.


Workplace mentorship has traditionally involved experienced staff members helping to develop their juniors. While this is integral to passing on industry best practices and coaching first-time managers in soft skills such as leadership, communication and negotiation, there are benefits in reversing the relationship.

Andrew Lafontaine, senior director of human capital strategy and transformation of Oracle APAC, claims that reverse mentoring has stimulated knowledge sharing amongst junior and senior staff members. And what’s the result? Higher quality projects. In addition, reverse mentoring can be used to help young leaders develop the experience required to move into a managerial position.

View Course: CIPD Masterclass: HR as an Organisational Coach-Mentor




Millennials were notoriously labelled as “unmanageable” in the past. However, Nick Nash, Group President of Garena, has found that the best way to manage them is to not “manage” them. Rather, to empower and trust them to do the work.

An obvious argument is, what if they mess up? However, millennial-centric organisations need to accept that mistakes are an integral part of the learning process. In fact, Harrison Tan, a management associate (MA) who is also from Garena, found that the trust and freedom that was awarded to him, motivated him to do a better job.


While an annual review used to be common practice in the past, nowadays, it simply isn’t enough. Gitansh Malik, regional leader for the Aon Best Employers Asia Programme at Aon Hewitt, has found that the best employers focus on creating a work environment that enables accelerated learning for millennials – and this involves giving continuous feedback on performance and promotion potential.

Aside from helping young leaders to identify and improve upon their shortcomings, weekly check-ins can assure them that they are moving in the right direction and help them to see how their present actions are impacting their career and the organisation at large.

View Course: CIPD Level 3 – Diploma in Human Resources Practice




Philip Yuen, CEO of Deloitte Southeast Asia and Deloitte Singapore, advises that organisations need to develop agile and future-ready leaders who are equipped with a keen understanding of digital. Are these the types of leaders who are currently being groomed though?

Ironically, a report released earlier this year found that old leaders view the role of CEO quite differently from millennial leaders. While millennials prize interpersonal skills, their more experienced counterparts prize critical thinking, business and management skills and stakeholder management.

Although these are all important skills, the best companies identify and groom those who will be capable of leading the organisation in the future – not just the ones who mirror the skills and values of those who are leading at present.

View Course: CIPD Masterclass: Workforce Planning Masterclass

Ready to groom your Millennial workforce into the leaders of tomorrow? NTUC LearningHub and SkillsFuture Credit can help you to make it happen! Click here to learn more.

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