According to research, four-in-ten millennial workers ages 25 to 29 had at least a bachelor’s degree in 2016. This number of workers is much higher compared to other generations. This implies that they are educated and most likely open for change and opportunities. Millennials are naturally creative and idea-driven who always want to challenge the status quo.
In the previous research by Pew, it was revealed that Millennials are confident, connected and open to change. Since this generation is open for change, let’s take a look at how Millennials can change for the better under the Kaizen culture. Kaizen is a Japanese philosophy that comes from the Japanese word Kai, which means change; and Zen, which means good. Overall, this philosophy means “change for the better” or “continuous improvement”.
Additionally, as what Masaaki Imai, an important advocate of Kaizen said, "Kaizen means improvement. Moreover, it means continuing improvement in personal life, home life, social life, and working life. When applied to the workplace Kaizen means continuing improvement involving everyone - managers and workers alike." So, what if there will be a continuous improvement with millennial workers? Would you still believe that they are lazy, selfish or entitled?
If 64% of Millennials said that it’s a priority to make the world a better place, this simply implies that they need empowerment and Kaizen can make them change for the better.
How do they change for the better under Kaizen?
1. Eliminating Unproductivity and Increase Productivity to Reach Goals:
When you’re in a Kaizen culture, you will learn seiri or sorting and seiton or set in order. Those two S introduced the secret recipe for change which breakdown the job, whether it’s smaller or larger into a smaller, organize and more manageable tasks.
And how this is applied with Millennials? Coach them to do the task step by step. For example, when writing an article, we will not immediately hit the keyboard or grab a pen to write, it’s best to divide, i.e.: (1) plan your storyline, (2) gathers data, (3) start to write (4) creates stunning headlines, (5) add visuals (6) proofread, (7) revises the content if needed (8) mission accomplished!
If the task is breakdown, unproductivity can be eliminated since you need to do the first small step to jump into the next one. It’s a must to eliminate waste or “muda” in Japanese term or what we consider as “unnecessary step”, thus, leading to a productive millennial workforce. Productivity tends businesses achieve their goals or to reach their targets, which is why great companies are obsessed with it. Who wouldn’t want to achieve more with the same number of inputs?
2. Being Dedicated to Problem Solving : Solve the X to find Success:
There is a survey that shows that Millennials tend to be lacking in problem-solving skills. With Kaizen, this can be solved. It teaches us that improvements begin with problem identification or recognizing that problem do exist. After all, if there’s no x, how can we see the y? Simply, no problem, no improvements.
How to connect this idea with millennials? Teach them the process. Begin with a problem definition, remember that not all issues are considered to be the problem sometimes these are just symptoms. Find the root causes of the main problem. Then, it’s time to generate alternatives. From those solutions, there is a need to choose the best one and test this alternative. In most cases in a real-life scenario, we apply this chosen solution. After the application or testing, don’t forget to evaluate the results.
Additionally, motivating them to have positive thinking can be of great help in problem solving. And remember that if we can solve any problems along the way, a business will continue to prosper and ultimately leads to success. It’s like thinking why we do have mobile phones now or the internet? Eureka! A big problem in communication was solved.
Always thinking, why we need to face a problem? It’s an opportunity to grow, so face it with courage and determination.
3. Working on the Right Direction under Standardization:
In Kaizen culture, Seiketsu or standardize is introduced. This idea means that under Kaizen, there is a need to standardize the best practice within the workplace. With standardization, rules are present. This can help every Millennials to work on the right track, thus leading to quality output.
How to introduce standardization with Millennials? Inspire them through bringing examples, i.e. great companies, always have their best practice like Apple Inc, Google, or one of the great examples is the case study of Toyota production system. Make them realize that setting rules, standards or measurements are just like a compass that sets the company in the right direction.
At the same time working under standards makes every business know where it stands. Where are we now or where are going? If this is answered, you will surely see opportunities for growth.
4. Constant Improvements to Achieve Higher Progress:
Due to the reasons that Millennials are being stereotyped as a self-absorbed, lazy bunch, they tend to come up with the ways on how they would make their works easier. Since Kaizen is a concept that emphasizes constant improvement, it simply implies that it can best fit with the Millennials. The ways that they have found to make the work easier can be added.
How to apply manage Millennials under Kaizen? A business needs to have a suggestion and support system. It must have an open suggestion system on how to improve work standards. To motivate them to suggest, add a reward system to those who voluntarily suggest an actionable idea. Giving them an open environment to discuss, they will surely find solutions that will help them to finish their tasks. Being a technology savvy is one of the reasons why they could come up with better ideas than their contemporaries. With constant suggestions, there will be continuous improvements leading every business to higher progress.
As what Erin Andrews said: “Success doesn’t happen overnight. Keep your eye on the prize and don’t look back.”, success can be achieved through constant improvements. This is all about moving forward with constant changes for the better.
Overall, Millennials can work for the better under Kaizen culture. Management support system works vital here. Under this culture, we can see that they can contribute to the growth of the company if they will have a coach. They don’t need a boss, they need a coach or mentor. After all, we all have one goal: “constant change for the improvement of the company”. Therefore, motivate and teach them the steps to success.
Donna Estrada is an editor forScoopfed and a contributor for AvivMovers a graduate of Bachelor of Arts in Journalism. She spends her time reading books, blogs, and writing about moving and millennials.