I, like many of you, saw a recent article that highlighted those with the title “millennial consultant” that charge outrageous amounts, some upwards of $20,000 per hour. When I first saw that number, two thoughts entered my head: 1) That is ridiculous. 2) If I can get that, I can have a four hour work week like Tim Ferriss and make $4 million per year (Yes that number is right. Do the math).
Once I got over the initial shock, I read the article again to see what kind of great insight I would get from someone charging $20,000 per hour as a consultant. What I got instead was the usual list of ways to engage and retain millennials: flexible hours, food, and trust falls.
Let me pause here and clarify something: I think companies should hire a consultant to help solve problems. Sometimes the only way to really solve a problem is to have fresh eyes from the outside to look at the problem. And of course I advocate using consultants, because I am one.
While I do enjoy helping companies find and develop great millennial leaders, I also know that a great millennial culture comes from within the company. Many companies are scrambling to find advice that helps them develop a great millennial culture. They realize that a great culture will attract great employees.
In an effort to become more “relevant” to a younger audience, business leaders flock to the internet and the blogs of “millennial experts” to find steps, tools, and tricks to better engage their millennials. This strategy is problematic for a few reasons:
- Your company culture is unique. Why would steps from someone else’s company be the best fit for your people?
- Just following actions and not developing actions around principles is lazy leadership. You lead a great culture based on the people who are there.
- You really don’t need to spend a ton of money to get great advice on engaging more millennials. You just need $10 (cue the Hamilton Musical references).
You Already Employ a Millennial Consultant
You don’t need $20,000 an hour. In fact, all you need is $10, an hour, and a cheeseburger. Or tacos. Whichever you like better. Because the best millennial consultant you can hire is the millennial on your team. And you hire them by buying them lunch and listening to them.
Lunch. It really is that simple.
Not coffee. Lunch.
Why lunch instead of coffee? Because lunch is something everyone does every day. You don’t go out of your way to lunch. When you eat lunch with someone, you are both fulfilling a need that will keep you alive. Plus, there is something special that happens when you eat food with people.
That doesn’t always happen at a coffee shop. Coffee is often just a vehicle to have a meeting with someone, and it is best to avoid any hint of a formal meeting. Lunch is far more relaxed.
So what do you do during this $10 millennial consulting session? Ask questions. In fact, just ask questions and give no answers. This conversation is about the millennial across the table, the one who gets up every day to work for your company.
If you’re reading this, then you are probably looking for question to help you in this process. Here are a few that you can ask to generate great dialogue:
- Why did you start working for our company?
- What do we do really well as a company? (This isn’t about your product or service; instead, it’s about the way your company gets work done)
- If you were CEO for a year, what would you do?
- What doesn’t make sense to you?
Again, your job is to ask questions. These are just launching points for the conversation. If you are really listening to the person, you will have more questions as a result of their answers. That’s what you want; you want to gain as much insight as you can so that your company can better engage a millennial audience.
You don’t need experts to tell you how your team thinks. You hired your team because they are people with skills and a brain. They are also people with hopes, dreams, opinions, and, most importantly, different perspectives.
Use those different perspectives to gain more insight into your company. You will be amazed at what you learn. Over time, your company culture will begin attracting more millennial talent. And use the $19,990 you saved to buy a lot more lunch.