So, who exactly are these Millennials we hear so much about? Well, Generation Y as they are also known are individuals who reached adulthood around the turn of the 21st century and interestingly make up around 75% of the working population.
Depending on which date you use I, by the skin of my teeth am a millennial. Millennials have been shaped by the technological revolution and tech savvy is in their DNA (therefore I feel I am more of a generation X, I remember life before smart phones)
I have worked alongside many talented individuals from this generation and it is easy to see that Millennials do tend to differ from earlier generations, especially terms of their characteristics and motivations at work. The reality is – Managers must adapt their management style to ensure they get the very best from their millennials and to ensure they retain them.
So how exactly to you manage a Millennial?
Treat them like adults
They may be known as the millennia generation, but they are adults so avoid giving “fake” praise and ensure performance reviews are meaningful. Some people believe that millennials are lazy, entitled, shellfish and shallow, but let’s be honest these traits are evident in sections of people from all generations.
On the whole millennials are looking for financial security, a diverse workplace, a fair boss who shares information and an innovative work environment.
Give praise and recognition
The rise of social media has given this generation a distinctive feature; the need for approval from others. It is important for managers to provide tasks that are ‘easier’ and tasks that feel challenging, allowing for multiple opportunities for praise. That is not to say that praise should be given for praise sake, it needs to be earned. If he/she does a great job, tell them and tell them there and then.
The instant gratification that social media gives, which this generation has grown up with means that immediate praise needs to be given.
Recognition can also be received in the work they do, ask them to teach another employee what they have learnt, thus developing their trust, expertise and self-worth. Show them that you are proud of their achievements, in meetings give individual praise and share success stories to the company at large via newsletters, email and social media.
Understand who this person is outside of work, perhaps they are an avid swimmer or writer. Armed with this information you can create a blog post showcasing their work and who they are as a person or build up company website bio’s. Millennials can be rewarded with personalised gifts (A lovely notebook for the avid writer for example) People want to be known and understood, not just rewarded financially.
Provide ample opportunities for learning & development
Millennials have grown up constantly stimulated and are eager for new experiences, they thrive on short term goals and visible results. Millennials don’t want to be doing the same job day in day out for the next 5 years (the next year come to that) These people are amongst the youngest in your organisation, they are used to changing every few months, learning new stuff, meeting new tutors and class mates and they will continue to look for this new stimulus within work. If your organisation can’t offer it, they will move on and find a firm that can.
Managers need to focus on helping them to identify new learning opportunities to develop new skills and support them to rapidly progress to the next level. Not every organisation will have a plan or the ability to promote their staff every 6-12 months, so it is vital that you provide opportunities to learn and develop skills. This could include lunch meetings that are designed to focus on learning, online courses, mentoring or coaching opportunities, shadowing more experienced staff, speaking opportunities or webinars.
Provide opportunities for your millennials to showcase their developments; ask them to teach their new skill to someone else, give a company presentation or report on what they have learnt. Include millennials in building sections of your on-boarding process and encourage employees to speak at university career days.
Create a strong company culture
Millennials today expect flexibility and autonomy in their work and don’t want to be tied to a desk or the outdated 9-5 office schedule. This new generation focus on results. Millennial employees tend to be attracted to companies with a strong culture and values that are in line with their own ideas and lifestyle.
Their work needs to feel worthwhile and making a difference beyond money
There’s more to it than money
Money isn’t their driving motivator, there’s more to it than that. It is about the actual work, the people they work with, how the company works and the company culture. Flexible packages are attractive; with the ability to customise their own to include additional days off, flexible hours, discounts and home working.
Millennials are ambitious, it might not be about climbing the corporate ladder, having direct reports or a certain job title but they are interested in executive positions where they can make a difference and an impact.
They want to learn from motivated people with positions that offer a wide range of experiences.
Mentor and coach
Millennials don’t appreciate traditional structures of authority and tend not to respond well to ridged protocols or power. Their leaders need to be coaches able to guide them. Managers need to earn the respect of millennials through being professional and consistency in their actions.
Give access to digital networks
Junior millennials (those born in the 90’s) cannot conceive a life without social media – over 50% of would turn down a job offer if it denied them access to social media networks. Use these skills to your advantage, rather than denying it, embrace it. Use their knowledge to teach other managers from previous generations to learn more or involve them in purchasing new technology or get them involved in new marketing and communication methods.
If you don’t belong to generation Y, you may be reading this blog in disagreement, you may be even be thinking that Millennials should suck it up and get on with the job they way you have always done things, but the reality is, times are changing and changing fast. Millennials arrival in the workforce is not only one of the biggest shifts in business, but also a massive opportunity. If you want your business to succeed and do well in these new times, without question you will need to adapt your management style
Millennials are here to stay, so let’s make the most of this fantastic talent!
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