I Learned to Supervise Millennials While Taking Piano Lessons: Part Two

I recently learned that much of my supervisory toolkit was developed while sitting on a piano bench.  In particular, the methods that I’ve used with success for the millennial generation are derived from things I learned during piano lessons.   This article is an installment of my ongoing musings about drawing inspiration for better supervision from my time in piano lessons. As a piano student, I had a weekly lesson to attend.  I started lessons at the age of seven and continued until I was 22.  So for a huge chunk of my life I spent an hour each week with one of the three piano teachers with whom I was blessed to study.  I think it became a bit like therapy for me.  Each week, a mentor spent an hour focused on me.  I knew I had a time where I could share the challenges of the week and be heard.  Practice may have been hard that week; I may not have accomplished as much as I wanted or may not have conquered a specific task assigned, but no matter what I got my hour in the spotlight. As a supervisor, I have learned how imperative it is to give my direct reports that weekly lesson.  Even if all we do is connect and share a few stories, the relationship that develops is priceless.  It can be hard to make time for these conversations.  When I have had higher numbers of staff, holding quality weekly individual meetings could take a day out of my work week.  But those hours, like my piano lessons, lead to a special result.  My staff seem to feel heard and have a predictable time and place to vent frustration, brainstorm ideas, and build trust with me. Millennials seem to need this time more than any other staff.  The millennial generation has been told they are special over and over again.  Upon entering the workplace, they are expecting a mentor, not just a boss.  I hold these meetings no matter how busy my schedule may get and staff seem to realize how special I find the time with them to be.  During the meetings, I ask about their work and personal lives.  I give a chance for the staff member to be in the spotlight. How do you keep your staff members in the spotlight?