How to engage and coach millennials

by John Hilton12 Feb 2016
The majority of OMD Australia’s staff is millennials, so it stands to reason that training must be varied, interactive and engaging, according to OMD's L&D practitioner.

For instance, one of the marketing and communications agency’s most popular training sessions is called ‘Pitch-Off’, which is targeted at employees with five years or less experience.

“We came to the realisation that our youngsters are going to need pitching experience as they get older, but they didn’t get many opportunities to be involved,” said Martin Cowie, National People & Development Director at OMD Australia.

Consequently, the session involves OMD Australia creating a mock pitch, and arranging for a company to come in and brief the youngsters. This year, the company was Qantas.

“We brief the participants and put them into teams of five, mixing the teams up with different skill sets and experience levels,” said Cowie.

“They have 24 hours to turn around the client’s brief and pitch back to the senior executives of the company."

The result is that some of the ideas can be exceptional and actually come to fruition and be used in market, he added.

 “It’s a pretty intense experience, so we feed them with pizzas if they are working till late. We also give them breakfast and make sure that each team has a dedicated mentor so that they are guided through the process.

“Pitch-Off is one of our most popular and innovative training sessions.”

Instead of a lecture forum sitting with a little bit of interactivity incorporated, OMD Australia has sought to make training much more discussion-based.

They have found this to be much more helpful and engaging for the younger age groups, in particular.

For example, they ran a course last year where employees were put into groups of 12 and were given a different topic to tackle each month, while being supplied with some thinking around it.

The group would discuss the topic, so it is a bit like group coaching and a discussion forum, added Cowie.

“The great thing about that is inevitably someone has got the answer to a problem you have had, and once you get into discussions it is all very relevant, you are all at a similar level,” he said.

“If someone comes up with a solution that you can put it into practice straight away. That works pretty well, and I think people preferred that to being lectured at.”