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  • Writer's pictureDr. Cristina DiPietropolo

Millennial Shadow Boards—What's That?

Millennials currently represent the largest generation in the U.S. workforce. However, many companies still struggle to know how to handle this group. While they are very different from older generations in some ways, that doesn't mean that they are impossible to work with. This bright and talented group of workers is here to stay—and millennial shadow boards can help companies prepare for the future. In this article, we will explore how companies can appeal to these employees and leverage them to redefine the future of their industries.

How to Deal with Disengaged Younger Workers and Improve Your Response to Changing Marketing Conditions[1]

Markets are changing, and many of these changes are linked to significant technological improvement—and the influence of younger generations. Change is inevitable, and it's a natural part of humanity and society. Modern changes are happening so quickly that some companies are struggling to keep up. It isn't a secret that millennials have been continuously underwhelmed by what they have found in the workplace. While some companies offer modern solutions that appeal to younger employees, other companies fail to understand the significance of disengaged younger workers. Millennials work well in teams, value a more open and frequent communication style, are motivated by significant challenges, and understand technology better than previous generations.[2] Organizational change management best practices should focus on creating buy-in, which means meeting the needs of this generation in the workforce, even if those needs are different from traditional needs from the past. A shadow board might just be the solution.

A shadow board is a group where non-executive employees are paired directly with executives while working on key strategic initiatives.[1] Millennials long to be involved in significant changes, and many of them understand the importance of change in ways that older generations might not be able to grasp. Pairing millennials with senior leaders can lead to powerful innovations.

Increase Millennial Visibility

It shouldn't be surprising that the same generation that loves to share their lives on popular apps like Instagram and TikTok wants more visibility in the workplace. Shadow boards allow an opportunity for millennials to get that face-time that they crave with senior executives, opening doors and allowing for networking opportunities within the organization.

Consider the Following Options:

  • Allow younger employees to join shadow boards where they can provide valuable insights.

  • Pair younger employees with senior employees on future initiatives.

  • Increase visibility for Millennials by allowing more opportunities for them to present, lead, and create in the shadow board environment.

Go Beyond Your "High Potential" Group[1]

When creating a shadow board, many companies make the mistake of looking once again at the people they have already deemed to be "high potential" employees. These are the individuals who seem to be chosen for everything and anything, even though other employees might be able to handle the task or opportunity just as effectively.

Younger generations are a lot more focused on fairness when it comes to opportunities, and when they see leaders playing favorites, it is not well-received. Millennials expect companies to be better, and companies should also expect this of themselves. The fact is that a company that only nurtures a select part of its group often limits its organizational potential. Stop focusing on your "A Players" and see the value in your "B Players."

By reaching beyond the chosen few and bringing millennials—particularly those who have not already been sponsored by leadership—into shadow board opportunities, companies can create diverse groups that are more likely to meet the needs of their audience. This is important for any business resilience strategy.

Leadership Can:

  • Look beyond the chosen few "favorites" on each team for opportunities and work to nurture employees who aren't already top performers.

  • Engage millennials through regularly scheduled meetings with the senior team.

  • Remember that innovation and change management requires buy-in, which means including everyone.

Keep Reading!

A shadow board program must come from the top to have a maximum impact! A CEO-sponsored program, with coordination by the Human Resource department, is essential.[1] The CEO should interview potential members and regularly interact with the shadow board. Most importantly, you need to evaluate the program's effectiveness on an annual basis and make the necessary adjustments regarding what worked and what didn't work with the program.

What happens after your executive team or board has approved your strategic plan? Life happens, you have to adapt, and you lose sight of executing your strategy. That's where we come in! Leader Essentials Group is an Executive Consulting firm specialized in collaborating, developing, and executing strategies with our clients. We help our clients stay on course and get to the finish line. Check us out at or email us at to learn more!

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Dr. Cristina Rosario DiPietropolo is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer at Leader Essentials Group, an executive consulting firm focused on organizational effectiveness. Extensive experience across multiple industries and highly skilled in the areas of strategic planning, organizational behavior, human resource management, change management, leadership, and digital marketing. Over ten years of teaching experience as a Visiting Professor of Management, with a special focus on leadership in entrepreneurship, organizational behavior, and international management.

________________________________________________________________________ [1] Jordan & Sorrell (2019). Why You Should Create a "Shadow Board" of Younger Employees. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved January 2, 2022, from [2] Myers, K. K., & Sadaghiani, K. (2010). Millennials in the workplace: A communication perspective on millennials’ organizational relationships and performance. Journal of Business and Psychology, 25(2), 225-238.

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