Sit down in any board room and you’re likely to hear management complaining about Millennial workers. The generation, often considered to be those born between 1981 and 1999, has gotten a bad rap throughout the years. Dubbed “selfish” or “entitled,” many managers see their Millennial workers as a hindrance to the company, rather than the business rock stars they can be.
The Millennials are a new breed of employee, and they are quickly becoming the largest segment of the workforce. Rather than fight the influx of Millennials embrace them. With the proper leadership, employees from this generation can reinvigorate the workplace.
How to Lead Millennials?
Understanding what makes this generation tick will go a long way to encouraging the best performance out of your employees. Here are 11 tips to help your team reach rock star status.
1. Offer Flexibility in Scheduling
The days of employees being seated at their desk, in the office, from 8-5 Monday through Friday, are gone. With the technological advancements that allow employees to work from home, from the local coffee shop, or on the go, comes flexibility and freedom that was never available in the past. Millennials want a work/life balance, and sometimes that means making their own schedule and working from somewhere other than the office.
2. Vary Assignments and Projects
Millennials thrive on challenge. The monotony of doing the same task over and over again, day in and day out, will destroy their drive and have them searching for their next career move. Provide opportunities for employees to work on different projects, have a hand in different departments, and flex their many skills for problem solving and innovation. You might just be surprised at how they rise to the challenge.
3. Allow Multitasking
While you may cringe at the thought of doing multiple things at once, this generation has grown up texting, watching television, playing games, listening to music, and doing several other activities all at once. While you may see their time on social media as a distraction, it may be a necessary part of your employee’s work process. If they are doing their jobs and completing the projects they’ve been assigned, give them the freedom to work in their own way.
4. Encourage Teamwork
While their communication styles may be different, millennials are used to working with others. They thrive on being a part of a team environment and will work well together towards a common goal. If you have a project that could benefit from multiple viewpoints and “all hands on deck,” encourage your employees to work together.
5. Create Opportunities for Personal Development and Career Advancement
Gone are the days of employees who want to work for a company for 50 years. The worst possible thing you can do to a millennial, is hold them back. This generation is constantly looking to improve themselves and their position in the working world. Whether it’s through reading, training, mentorship, or motivational speakers, provide opportunities for your millennial employees to grow and you’ll see them do amazing things.
6. Provide Feedback
Millennials have grown up receiving instant feedback from their parents, friends, and teachers. When they enter a traditional company which provides quarterly or even just yearly reviews, they feel lost and unsure of how to proceed or improve. It’s not necessary to have formal reviews every week, however a quick chat about their progress and room for improvement can go a long way to making their work experience satisfying for them and effective for you.
This is not a generation built on the old adage “Children should be seen and not heard.” Their opinions have been taken into consideration since before they could speak, and often, they have extremely valuable feedback to provide. Listen to your employees and make them feel valued and respected. When you do this, you will inspire them to find their voice and improve not just their position, but the company as a whole.
8. Support Philanthropic Outreach
Whatever else you can say about millennials, they are focused on finding solutions to the world’s problems and to making our communities a better place. They expect the same of their employers. Find a cause greater than making money and involve your employees in volunteering, donating funds, and supporting charities. Offer up paid volunteer time and allow your employees to spend some of their working hours doing projects that really matter to them. Not only will your millennial workers appreciate the effort, but your customers will as well.
“I have to get inspired by something that touches my soul, or rocks my soul.” Steven Tyler
9. Create a Fun Work Environment
We spend so many of our waking hours at our jobs, why not incorporate a sense of play into the work day? A lighthearted, enjoyable work culture will allow employees to relax and be their best, most creative selves at work. They’ll produce more and find joy in coming to work rather than resentment.
10. Provide Structure
It may seem counterintuitive for a generation that values freedom above all else, but millennials actually crave structure as well. They want to understand what is expected of them. They need to know how to excel at their jobs and how to catch your eye for the next promotion. By providing structure, you actually give them the freedom to thrive within set parameters.
11. Remember That Everyone is Different
We can speak in generalizations about generations who have come before and will come in the future, but the most important thing to realize is that every employee is different. No matter when they were born, every person is an individual and must be treated as such. A motivational tactic that works with one millennial may fall flat with another. Get to know your team, learn what they respond to and what they don’t, and treat them as unique individuals.
When you understand how to work with and lead millennials, you’ll realize that they are a powerful group in our workforce. They will revolutionize work as we know it, and they will prove to be the business rock stars that you are looking for.
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