5 Observations for Managing Millennials
It is expected that the Millennial generation will represent more than half of the U.S. workforce by 2020! The challenge is that this generation isn’t wired like the Boomer generation who is training them.
The work force has changed dramatically over the years. How Boomers think about work is considered ‘old school’. Gone are the days when colleagues looked down upon the person who job-hopped from one company to anther. Gone are the days when the majority of people stayed with the same company for a lifetime, working their way up over the course of 30+ years.
Technology has changed everything.
Boomers remember what it was like to transition from electric typewriters (complete with white out or correction tape) to computers using the DOS operating system. Millennials on the other hand, grew up with a computer in their hands, learning while they played with a laptop or handheld device. For this reason, they can more easily slip into many jobs requiring computer skills … and with very little training.
Boomers who are managing Millennials may find the following insightful as they navigate these new waters.
#1. Give Millennials ample opportunities to grow.
Climbing the ladder isn’t really their thing, so compensate by offering new responsibilities and projects that expose them to a range of experiences. Include small financial increases along the way as incentive.
#2. Keep your technology up to date.
While Boomers remember their first computer experience being a game of Pong at the local pizza parlor, and Generation Xers remember envying their rich friends personal computers, Millennials just played with their “toys”. Millennials, through no fault of their own, have been able to take state-of-the-art technology for granted.
For that reason, they’ll become frustrated and move on if they’re forced to use something they feel is archaic. Stay up to date so they’ll be more productive and satisfied.
#3. Discuss their long-term goals.
Millennials come off as entitled in part due to their confidence and success with technology. “Paying dues” by slowly climbing the ladder like everyone else doesn’t resonate with most of them.
Help them connect the dots. How will their work for you get them closer to their long-term career goals? How can you expose them to experiences that will lead them in the direction they want to go? If it’s possible to be flexible, do so. This will help to build a sense of loyalty to you and your business.
#4. Give frequent feedback.
Millennials want to know what they have to do to get to the next step. They are accustomed to things moving quickly with a dose of instant satisfaction. (Thanks, Technology).
Talk often. Re-asses frequently. Consider 3 or 6-month evaluations as opposed to the traditional once per year evaluation. If you feel a specific employee needs more than that and is worth the time investment to you, be flexible and meet more often with that particular employee.
#5 Be open to change.
For Boomers, staying until the job is done, even if that means forfeiting family time, hobbies or other commitments, translates into what is considered a high work ethic. Millennials are defining work ethic a little differently, in part, because they tend to work more quickly due to their innate technical abilities.
The Boomer who finishes the day’s tasks early is more likely to stay and get ahead on other projects or offer to help a co-worker. That may not be so true with many Millennials who often finish tasks early. For them, the workday ends when the to-do list is done, even if they finished hours before anyone else.