Managing millennials is something all managers will sooner or later have to learn because experts predict that within the next five years members of this generation will comprise around 75 percent of the total workforce.
To be successful with managing millennials, managers have to be aware of these differences and understand how to use them to the company’s advantage. Below we discuss a number of hints and tips that should make this easier.
1. Understand who they are
Before you can manage a millennial workforce, you have to know who you are dealing with:
- The millennial generation spans a period of 20 years from 1980 to 2000. As such their current ages vary between 20 and 40. While some of them are young, novice workers, others have already reached middle management levels.
- They are unlikely to stay with any company just for a paycheck. They want experience, meaning, purpose and a feeling that what they do matters.
- They want opportunities to use their personal and professional skills and a chance to acquire new ones.
- Generally speaking, they have a strong craving for new experiences, and they flourish on short-term goals where one can see quick, visible results.
- Particularly younger millennials are tech-savvy and highly connected. Smartphones and social media form integral parts of their lives, to the extent that as many as 56 percent of them would not accept a job where they are denied access to social networks.
2. When managing millennials, embrace technology, don’t hinder it
Businesses should not stand in the way of social media and other technologies. Rather try to benefit from it in order to build competencies throughout the firm.
Inverse mentoring programs could, for example, make it possible for older employees to grow their technological skills by interacting with millennials. Also, use millennials’ technological skills during the evaluation of new technologies and computer systems.
Another good idea is to provide them with first access to new programs and equipment, and if there is data to arrange, synthesize and organize, nobody will do it better than them. Most millennials can effortlessly and intuitively understand and organize large amounts of data and condense it into an easier-to-understand format.
3. Stop being the boss and start being a mentor
Millennials are notorious for their lack of respect for conventional structures of authority. They grew up in a more relaxed and permissive society, and they respond badly to rigid displays of rules and power. They want their leaders to guide them, to be approachable. So when trying to figure out how to manage millennials, avoid flexing authority and a top-down approach based on strict discipline. Learn to earn millennials’ respect via being consistent and showing them that you are a professional in your field.
4. Assist them to learn and grow
- When supervising millennials, you should provide opportunities for professional and personal growth. Research done by Cone Communications shows that 93 percent of the millennial generation feels motivated if they get a chance to learn new skills, and to attend classes.
- Offer continuous feedback, not just a yearly performance review. Millennials like to know where they stand, and how they are progressing towards their goals.
- When supervising millennials, you will have no choice but to expand your definition of work. Close to 90 percent of the millennial workforce is motivated by opportunities to meet new people and explore new places.
5. Set up clear goals and celebrate small achievements
Make sure that goals are clear and consistent, not only for individuals but also for teams and the company as a whole. Engage your employees in establishing these goals, instead of simply having them assigned from the top.
Discuss goals with corporate management, teams and individuals on a regular basis. And make a point of celebrating all achievements, even the smallest one. Research shows that 87 percent of millennials can be motivated by recognizing their achievements.
6. Set up teams
Millennials at work love to work in teams. They grew up in an era where teamwork in both sports and schooling was strongly cultivated. Use your team leaders as mentors to encourage discussion and the sharing of ideas among millennial team members.
Millennials are used to create both real-world and virtual communities, and they love to work for the benefit of the group - even more than for their own individual success. Make sure to use their sense of shared values, interests and goals to get the best out of them and to make them feel part of a community which they would not like to leave.
7. Provide them with a feeling that what they do matter
According to research carried out by Cone Communications, 3 out of every 4 millennials will be prepared to take a pay cut as long as they could work for a socially responsible business. And 89 percent of them would like to be part of some or other activity at work that helps to protect the environment, e.g. a recycling project.
Apart from benefiting the environment, such a project will make your millennial staff feel they are part of something that matters and will boost their loyalty towards the company.
8. Learn to be flexible to get more from your team of millennials
Millennials strongly dislike a rigidly structured work environment. If, when managing millennials, you provide them with flexibility and seamless integration between their personal and work lives, you will motivate them and get them to perform much better.
- Whether you like this or not, according to a Gallup poll as many as 48 percent of male millennials feel it’s very important to remain in touch with their personal lives while at work. They see absolutely nothing wrong with personal phone calls, sending/receiving text messages or using social media during business hours.
- The good news is that if you can live with this, as many as 47 percent of male millennials don’t have a problem with handling work-related emails after hours.
- Where feasible, allow your millennial staff members to work flexible hours and to telecommute. Research shows a sharp increase in productivity where companies allow millennials to work outside the office for between 60 percent and 80 percent of the time.
9. Turn them into ambassadors
Millennials’ strong involvement with social media makes them the perfect brand ambassadors. If you want to be successful with this, start by providing them with a positive experience during the recruitment phase. Once they are part of the team, keep the experience positive and you have a very good chance that they will use social media to encourage others to join your company or to do business with it.
10. Prepare them for leadership positions
Most millennials are self-assured and always ready for bigger things. They simply react much better to positive reinforcement than to criticism, or what they will regard as someone squashing their passion. Make sure, therefore, to encourage their ambitions. Show them that you have faith in their abilities and allow them to lead whenever the opportunity arises.