Millennials: They’re not just our kids anymore
Managing Millennials can sometimes be challenging to traditional managers, but if we shift our thinking and embrace this up and coming generation we can become even more successful more quickly.
It is estimated that Millennials will be 75% of the global workplace by 2025 and we have got to change the way we think about these “kids” born in the 80s and 90s. We need to shift our leadership styles and flex toward them and not away from them. We must understand that we can learn as much from them as we can teach them. Attracting, engaging and retaining the next generation of talent will be imperative in bringing organizations to the next level and we must transform the traditional manager into to a true, intentional and mindful leader so that our organizations can thrive.
Let’s take a look at where most traditional managers see the issues with this generation
Every time I walk past his/her desk he/she is always online or playing on a phone.
This is the generation of instant information gratification. In the olden days (did I just use that phrase) we had to go to the Library to research information. Sometimes we actually had to talk to people (the horror). Millennials are not used to waiting for information and if they are curious about something they look it up. All hail to the World Wide Web! Their communication styles and methods are not what traditional business is used to. However, this does not mean that it is wrong. This group catches on to the latest means of communication faster than any other generation and they are driven by the need to feel connected. In traditional business we tend to think of work life balance as a true separation of work and life. For the Millennial, it is blended and work life balance means that they need to feel connected: connected to work and connected to life at any/all points in time. To work effectively with a Millennial you need to ask questions and listen to the motivators driving them.: in most cases it does not come down to dollars. For Millennials the top indicator of career success is meaningful work. If their leader is providing meaningful work and direction and can get over the fact that they have to check in on their personal life throughout the day, I guarantee that they will give you more than 100%.
But they expect to move up really fast and don’t want to wait their turn
In traditional business there is a lot of focus on tenure and earning your way. The Millennials often have different skill sets and rather than focusing on what they can bring in terms of innovation, leaders get hung up on making a millennial wait, usually because the leader had to put in their time. Since this generation is, by nature, impatient, it is better to leverage their skills sets and let them make contributions early and often. Give them recognition and watch what they can do. If you can’t promote them, give them a stretch assignment or the ability to use their technical or innovative skill to lead a project. Share your vision: not just the what and the why but also the impact to what they are doing and how it impacts their work and the organization as a whole. The one thing the educational system did for the Millennials is to engage them in a collaborative culture. They love to work in groups and showcase their talents alongside other equally brilliant innovators. They just want recognition for their piece of the contribution and they want to contribute where they can. Making them “wait their turn” will hinder their ability to do good work and will have them easily baited by the next recruiter.
They want a flexible work schedule
Again, work life balance means something different to a millennial, there is not really a separation. a little flexibility on your part can mean a lot more work on theirs. You know how you complained before that they were always checking their phone? They do that all the time, even when they are not at work, and they are checking work email as well as personal stuff.
Ask your team of Millennials how and when they prefer to communicate. Many millennials work well into the night and probably check their email before getting out of bed in the morning. Embrace this 24/7 connectivity but ensure you set expectations and boundaries. If someone wants to go to spin class at 2:00 every day and will make up the missed time later in the day, what’s the harm? Of course flex time for one means flex time for all. If you look at the research, people in more flexible work environments have better loyalty and productivity than people in jobs who don’t offer flexible schedules. You can always negotiate what works for your organization and come to a mutually beneficial decision.
Why should I shift toward their needs?
The workplace is shifting and technology is a big driver . Millennials have the ability to be flexible and shift with the technological changes that other folks in the workplace may not. Technology has been a part of their life since birth and they are a mobile generation. They work well across cyber time and space. They turn to the internet and can find whatever they need and probably faster than any other generation. They will do research on your company and on you. This small fact will mean that leaders must be more transparent about who they are, what they are about and what decisions they make. Truly authentic leaders will rise to the top and the Millennial will want to follow them, especially if they make the workplace fun.
Now go forth and lead with passion