Throw Out the Old Playbook to Manage Millennials
I got off the phone the other day with an exasperated manager who was complaining about Millennials. Of course, every generation becomes the proverbial punching bag of the previous generations. What else is new? But, I will say that I do think the Millennials are unlike previous generations and as a manager or leader, you want to know what motivates them. First, you have to understand their reality. Visual Capitalist has a great chart about Millennials.
- Millions of Millennials are carrying more than $1 trillion in student debt collectively. In other words, they have a ball and chain weighing on their neck the moment they received their degrees.
- 88 percent of Millennials prefer a collaborative work culture rather than a competitive one. Unlike previous generations, the current group of young people is not motivated to compete against one another, and loads of money does not motivate them.
- 40 percent of Millennials believe blogging about the workplace is acceptable. This publicness, of course, is very different from previous generations who were not as public about their employers.
- 80 percent of Millennials want on-the-spot feedback. Millennials don’t want to wait until they have their annual reviews or some other more formal meeting to receive feedback on their performance.
- 69 percent of Millennials believe their physical presence in an office environment is not necessary on a regular basis. Remember, this generation was the first generation to grow up in the digital age.
I have Millennials working for me in my businesses. I can tell you that they are different than Boomers and Generation X, and that’s okay. Every generation is a product of the circumstances at the time they were growing up.
Leadership is the Key
Millennials are socially conscious. Unlike earlier generations that put their heads down and worked so long as they saw financial rewards, Millennials would rather work for a company that is socially responsible and make less money. Social responsibility in business takes thought, and it takes leadership. Having a vision and executing it (and not simply talking) will go a long way to inspiring Millennials.
The World Is at Their Fingertips
Millennials grew up with technology and the digital age. Most Millennials will not work for a company that does not allow them to access to social media or that restricts it. In my experience, Millennials have tremendous faith and ease with all things digital. So, if you’re a manager, I would be thoughtful about the digital policies you incorporate in your business or nonprofit.
Millennials Don’t Care About Window Dressing
Millennials live on social media, and if you spend time on social media, you’ll see that it’s about transparency and lack of artificiality. Slick videos and saying one thing but doing another will quickly disengage Millennials. They want “real” leaders and managers. Millennials grew up with on-the-spot praise and encouragement. Managers should be keen to use this as an asset. You don’t need to be formal. Be straight-forward at any given moment.
Have the Right Toys Available
Millennials love technology. They trust technology much more than earlier generations. They want to see that the company or organization where they work has the latest digital tools at its disposal. Don’t be surprised by Millennials speaking to managers about updating technology and software platforms. They do it because they believe that technology is an essential tool for business. If older workers may prefer to use older technology, you can’t afford as a business owner to stay there. Older workers understand that to compete and be successful they have to keep on training on the latest. Follow the lead of Millennials because this will not only help you retain them, but it will also give you a competitive advantage.
Develop Collaboration and Team Projects
Millennials care about group dynamics. They participate in group chats, and they care about the collective whole, much more so than Generation X and younger Boomers. Make it a point to develop your company into a team. Throw away the word “staff.” That’s dated and suggests managers and staff members; in other words, “us” and “them.” Instead, talk about the team as a whole-managers and junior employees. As a leader within my fundraising company, I sometimes call business meetings. These are done with everyone in the room. They’re relaxed and not in any conference room. We do these in our bullpen area, and people are standing, leaning on tables or sitting on chairs. I want to hear what anyone has to say. I want to hear about what’s working and what needs tweaking directly from the source, not just the more seasoned managers. Additionally, we make our best efforts to make team goals that everyone in the company can participate in to get us where we need to go and keep older workers and Millennials engaged, and working together.