Connectional Intelligence: Millennials Not so Secret Weapon

Written by
Laura Francis

Help Millennials Succeed with Workplace Mentoring Networks

I’m a millennial, and I am not ashamed of it.  In fact, I embrace it.  I am proud to be part of a generation known to be “wired,” connected, inclusive, creative and willing to learn and to share.  Networking and sourcing relevant information is what people of my generation, knowingly or not, have been doing their whole lives.  We innately want to be more deeply connected, and we know how to achieve such interconnectivity through the use of technology.  I’m tweeting as I type this blog, and I watched a training video while I completed an eBook earlier today.  I look for answers on my own and take responsibility for learning about things that intrigue me.  The best part?  I’m not alone in these behaviors.  People from my generation tend to do these things naturally and without second thought.  We look for those connections via technology, and we are powerfully networked individuals.

Millennials and Mentoring ConnectionsThis all came to mind the other day as I read a great blog by CLO magazine featuring leadership expert Erica Dhawan.  The blog described her theory on how to make a multigenerational workforce more productive by realigning the way organizations think about learning and development with the way Millennials like to learn and share.  The idea is to take advantage of different and diverse generations in your company by expounding on the strengths of each.  Her theory is based on a shared quality of the Millennial generation that she calls Connectional Intelligence.  She defines this concept as, “the ability to build and realize value from networks of relationships, to harness units of knowledge and reuse them to innovate, to convene communities, to marshal a variety of resources for breakthrough results.”  To put it more simply, connectional intelligence is the ability to join with others to share knowledge and expertise for the sake of mutual advancement and productivity.

Dhawan contends that we should examine and learn from the way Millennials share knowledge.  She emphasizes that, “We must listen to what they know and enable them to use their connected capacities to guide all of us in rapidly learning to use our powers of connectional intelligence.”  As a Millennial, I say it’s about time!  Let this young, connected part of your workforce pave the way for how your organization approaches learning, so you can increase capabilities of individuals while also increasing the capabilities of the organization in a creative, imaginative fashion.  Picture the experiential, technical and organizational knowledge currently held by the baby boomer and older generations that could permeate your workforce if all members had high levels of connectional intelligence.

For me, one of the most exciting things about working at River is that we are creating technology that helps people make these learning connections and build these knowledge networks.  The work is motivating and meaningful.  We are helping to make vast, global and sometimes siloed organizations feel more intimate and deeply connected.  We are helping people form committed contributive relationships and share knowledge and understanding for mutual benefit with their coworkers.  We are making a difference.  If my perspective as a Millennial can assist in that, I’m thrilled to contribute.

Can you see the benefit of aligning your organization’s approach to learning with the concept of connectional intelligence through the use a technology like River? Tell us what you think.

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