Tips to Make Managing Millennials a Whole Lot Easier
There are countless approaches to help you better engage with this young generation of workers, but all that information can start to feel overwhelming. Keep it simple, and use these tips for managing Millennials as a starting place:
- Giving feedback: Step up accomplishment — not participation — recognition. Believe it or not, Millennials don’t want a reward for just doing their job. While it may seem like upping your thank-you game is the best approach to giving Millennials that constant feedback they crave, peppering them with thank-yous on a daily basis only makes your feedback less meaningful. If you’re constantly pumping them with accolades and thank-yous, they may wonder: Are you being sincere? Aren’t there some areas I could improve? How do I distinguish between “OK” performance, versus knocking it out of the park? When recognizing Millennials for a job well done, be clear about a specific accomplishment and why you’re giving them positive feedback.
- Motivating: Make it about the experience, not the paycheck. Everyone wants to make money, Millennials included, but it can’t be the one thing that gets them out of bed every morning. If you want to get the most out of your Millennial employees, acknowledge the importance of experiences— whether it’s through outings with colleagues, participating in volunteer work, or making a sales goal team-oriented — they’ll be more driven to succeed if rewards fit into the new definition of extrinsic motivation (experiential, team-based, and, frankly, fun).
- Getting them to work hard: Focus on results, not rules. Technology has enabled people to work anywhere, at any time, and Millennials prefer leaders who live by that mantra. Flexibility in schedule, process, procedure, and rules will make for a happy Millennial employee. Before checking the time a Millennial sits down at her desk in the morning or closely examining whether she followed Steps 1–5 correctly and sequentially, check her results. If they’re stellar, let her continue to work in a way that’s best for her — and for your team.
- Navigating the organization structure: Explain the why. Ask a Millennial to jump, and he’ll ask why. Why, you ask? Millennials were raised by democratic Baby Boomer parents who asked for their opinions on everything from what new TV to buy to where to go on vacation. They also grew up with the virtual soapbox that is social media. These two conditions combined have made for a generation that values the opportunity to give their opinions. Once they’ve given their opinion or idea, they want to understand why it’s being either accepted or rejected. Don’t be afraid to tell a Millennial no, but prepare to back it up with the reasoning behind it.
- Communicating with Millennials: Mix informal with formal. Don’t assume you need to text Millennials a message rife with emojis to effectively communicate with them. Most Millennials prefer a manager who communicates in a way that is transparent and direct, but also knows when it’s ok to not be so starchy and buttoned-up. In written communication, replace formal salutations with casual greetings. With face-to-face communication, don’t be afraid to let your guard down and connect with your report about shared interest. The more that you can be authentically yourself while also keeping it professional, the more likely the message you’re trying to convey will be heard.