Millennials

 

Millennials (those born between 1980 and early 2000s) are dramatically changing the business landscape. Not only in the vast number of them entering the workforce but also in the way businesses are being conducted.

Because of their vast numbers and their expectations, it has brought many organizations kicking and screaming into the modern era in terms of changing workplace policies, benefits and even how the office space is laid out.

Why is it that a younger generation has the power to overthrow the traditional norms that have been the foundation for many businesses for decades?

That’s an interesting question with an even more complex answer.

Researchers believe that it has to do with the way they were brought up. Many Millennials were brought up with “Modern Parenting” which allowed them complete freedom over choices as well as other factors that allowed them to express themselves in ways that no other generation could or were allowed to do.

Others say it is a result of their schooling. Gone are the days of memorization of facts and figures. Today’s schooling is all about formulating your own opinions and answers with an emphasis on collaborative teamwork. This need for sociability has kept with them and they feel isolated when put into a traditional office setting with individual roles.

These contributing factors are what may have been imbedded into the Millennials’ psyche and may shed some light as to the “demanding” nature that so many managers and leaders are finding difficult.

I found out something very interesting during my research. It is not the much older managers and leaders that are having the most conflict with the Millennials; it is the Gen Xers (those born between early 1960s and early 1980’s). The conflict arises as the Gen Xers feel that the Millennials have to “put in their time” to get where they are vs the Millennials’ view of “I want it now!”

So what is a leader to do?

Here are some simple guidelines.

1. Realize that growth is what is important to them.

I asked my son, Ali (a Millennial) what he looks for in a job/career. Without hesitation, he said, “Growth. I want to know that there is room for growth but I don’t want to wait forever.”

Millennials want to feel that they are contributing and being rewarded regularly for it. The antiquated annual performance review is being thrown aside and more regular, consistent feedback is given. Many companies have completely restructured their growth plan and have incorporated incremental promotions; a balance between the Millennials’ need for growth and the organization’s budget.

2. Ask for their input.

Millennials are not afraid to speak their mind. Just look at Twitter, Facebook and even Instagram to see that they are very connected and vocal.

Translate this into the workplace by asking for their input at meetings and in between. They will appreciate you asking them – they will feel they are contributing and being validated.

3. Change their schedule.

Millennials hate the traditional 9-5. If possible, mix it up from time to time. Get them to come in later, even working four days/week. They will come back refreshed and more creative.

4. Mentor them.

Just like in their formative years, Millennials want (and need) guidance. They want to fast track their career and learn from someone who will guide and coach them to get them to where they want to be.

I am seeing an increase in my coaching practice for this need. More and more Millennials are investing in themselves and their future by hiring a coach and/or seeking out a mentor.

By mentoring them, you will gain loyalty as well as satisfaction that you have shaped a future leader.

5. Create a fun work environment.

Millennials leave and enter jobs at an alarming rate. They quit not because of their job but because of their managers and environment. If they are not happy, they are out of there!

To keep them, you need to create and foster a fun work environment. Not every company can be like Google with video games and pool tables however there are some things that you can implement, such as:

  • Social events
  • Community involvement
  • Social causes

6. Don’t micromanage them.

Millennials have been accustomed to freedom and expect it in their careers.

Don’t expect to get results by micromanaging them; it will result in a backlash and even result in your downfall.

Foster a “check-in” philosophy in your leadership. Check in with them regularly, ask important questions and let them figure out the rest. They will respond to this approach better than if you were hanging over their shoulder.

7. Pay them for what they can contribute NOT for their lack of experience.

Millennials are a very creative and visionary bunch. They see things differently and will contribute to the organization that you may be amazed at.

Don’t think that their lack of experience on their resume sums up their ability. Pay them for what you believe they will contribute; make it attractive for them to join, stay and contribute. You will be pleased with your investment.

Millennials are not going anywhere. They are our future leaders, entrepreneurs and workforce. They have already demanded changes in the workplace that conflicts with the traditional norms. One thing is for sure: the corporate world will never be the same again.