There is a lot of discussion on how difficult millennials are to manage. A recent Mashable article, Managing Millennials: Why Gen Y Will Be Running the Country by 2020, predicts “36% of the US workforce will be comprised of millennials in 2014.” As this generation becomes a more prominent group in the workforce, we hear from our clients that the following tips and tricks are helpful.
Social and Mobile: The millennials are well connected through social media, smartphones, and tablets. They make purchasing decisions based on blogs, customer reviews, and friends’ recommendations rather than newspaper articles. Their voice on the internet has shifted business communication from one-way advertising to transparent, collaborative discussions on social media.
How to Manage This Skill: Discuss your current corporate communication strategies with the millennials. Ask them for input concerning your social media and communication strategies. Let them be a champion for your brand through their own social media accounts or encourage their contributions to the company accounts.
Some organizations also argue that millennials are so comfortable online, they forget about the power of a phone call or an in-person meeting. Encourage them to collaborate with team members and other industry professionals by inviting the millennials to team meetings, client meetings, or company-sponsored professional events.
Ready to Learn and Collaborate: The millennials know how to learn. They recently graduated, are in the middle of an advanced degree, or continue to take classes to refine their skills. The internet and social media has taught them to consume information often and in smaller bites. Not only do they know how to find and digest information quickly, but they understand how to present it in a concise, but clear way.
How to Manage This Skill: Give the millennials a research project. This project can be research about a new client, market research, SWOT analysis, etc. Millennials will need a balance between direction and feedback from the leadership team and the freedom to learn on their own or with peers. The Mashable survey suggests, “Millennials are natural collaborators, particularly when the group’s purpose and goals are understood. Employers should be clear about deadlines and any business boundaries the group should be aware of.”
Change Agents: Whether they realize it or not, millennials challenge the traditional workplace regularly. In many cases, they value meaningful work and sense of accomplishment over a high salary. They also don’t want to wait for the annual performance review to receive feedback. The Mashable survey found “a whopping 80% of millennials said they would rather receive real-time feedback in addition to frequent check-ins so they can adapt and learn as they move forward.”
How to Manage This Skill: Millennials need frequent, real-time feedback. Give praise when it is earned and constructive feedback when improvement is needed. Assign millennials mentors within the organization to help young hires learn your business and grow professionally. Millennials will not only appreciate it but expect it. In addition, use their hunger for change and ability to adapt to your advantage. When the organization is going through a big change or trying something new, engage the millennials first. Their enthusiasm may encourage the others on the team as well.