Millennials want to work smarter not harder. And that attitude is one that Taiwo Oyedele is keen to encourage.
Generation Next is more efficient than previous generations says Taiwo Oyedele, Head of Tax & Regulatory Services at PwC Nigeria and West Africa Market Tax Leader. Why? Because as well as using smart digital tools, they are also smart at solving problems he says.
They also take advantage of the large volume of data using it to gain insights for their clients and themselves. For instance, PwC Nigeria has built an app which allows its staff to easily and quickly see the current opportunities the firm is offering, helping them find assignments which are of interest so they can develop experience in the areas of their choice.
Taiwo is convinced that the app is a "win-win" for the firm, staff and clients alike. He says: "It is interesting that when they make a choice, they put their minds to it. They produce better outputs and they're happier." There is no question of staff not being allowed to do the assignment because they are in a different unit.
This smart generation is helping Taiwo to see work differently. He is convinced that professional firms need to concentrate on outputs and value, not on timesheets and charge out rates. And partly his thinking is influenced by Millennials. He says that a young colleague told him recently that he didn’t want to fill in timesheets, he found the exercise boring.
Taiwo is sympathetic to shifting mindsets. What does clocking on and off prove? Why not stop for a wide-ranging conversation in the office before getting back to work? Why not hot desk? Or work from home? Or leave the office early to beat the traffic so you can be more efficient? Equally he is happy to see changes to how the firm works with clients. Why is the assignment charged at hours x rate rather than the value it represents?
PwC has responded to the challenge of managing Generation Next. Taiwo says PwC expects young professionals to manage their careers and make their own choices. Partly in response to Generation Next constantly thinking about the next career stepping stone, the firm in Nigeria explicitly identifies top performers, tells them how their prospects are viewed and then offers them opportunities such as international secondments. "We want them to form different perspectives and see different cultures."
Yet with new opportunities and a new approach to mindset comes the usual responsibilities and expectations. It remains critically important to meet deadlines and be properly prepared for work assignments.
Values play a large part in his professional outlook and he expects colleagues' personal value framework to match the firm's. Equally he expects a focus on flexibility and efficiency. This is partly in recognition that every generation of professionals need to keep skills up to date. And although we can’t necessarily tell what skills we will need tomorrow, Taiwo is certain that we can prepare ourselves to have a mindset, which will survive and prosper whatever technical and soft skills we need.
A key part of the right attitude for Taiwo centres on leadership: "This is not about the leader you become as a partner, it is how you lead yourself from day one; it is how you organise yourself and how you manage your personal brand."
In Taiwo's opinion developing leadership alongside other attributes – such as keeping an open mind – will ensure Millennials increasingly have much to offer: they are able to see opportunities rather than just challenges; and they are always looking to solve problems. If they maintain those attitudes as their careers progress it seems there is plenty of cause for optimism.