Ah, millennials—they are, by far, the most popular age group in social media today. That said, while news and topics about millennials are becoming a regular occurrence, they can still seem to be a total mystery, especially to the older generations.
However, despite the scepticism and negative impressions they sometimes get, their potential shouldn’t be ignored. This is important since they’re already past their college days age-wise and are already venturing out to make a future for themselves, whether in business or the corporate world.
As such, as businesswomen and leaders who may be looking to hire millennials or are already working with them, how do you manage them in such a way that you’re able to bring out their potential while dealing with their quirks or defining characteristics?
The fact is, managing millennial employees the right way is already a skill in itself. You have to assess the way you communicate, your corporate culture, and even your own prejudices and biases. Anne Collier, founder of executive coaching and training firm Arudia, says, “Be aware that you perceive others through your own lenses and that you judge millennials for theirs.”
What Is a Millennial, Really?
A millennial is someone aged between 22-37, which means they’re now adults and a large portion of the workforce. Pew Research reckons that one in three workers are now millennials and in some traditionally younger industries, such as real estate and technology, they can make up the majority of employees.
Diversity is important to more businesses these days and there are an increasing number of young businesswomen making an impact on companies. There is also a noticeable shift in the workplace as millennials bring their own unique culture.
We all know that millennials are tech-savvy and creative, thanks to growing up with computers and social media. Being exposed to a wealth of viewpoints and opportunities in a more globally-connected world, many of them are independent thinkers who can think outside of the box, and many also have an idealistic streak, as is typical of most young people. Understandably, they do sometimes have trouble with the traditional hierarchical nature of the corporate business structure and prefer to engage and discuss rather than to simply listen and follow instructions.
One challenge for many managers is a different work ethic. Millennial employees are known to place higher value on work-life balance and personal satisfaction than previous generations, who were prepared to work long hours to get promoted.
The issue, then, is the way business managers and leaders engage this younger generation. How can people in leadership roles tap into their creativity and ingenuity, yet still inspire a strong work ethic?
Offer Growth Opportunities Over Money
While they may not be as interested in working long hours with the hope of getting a pay increase or a promotion in a linear way, the flip-side is that they are motivated by personal and professional growth. If they can grow as professionals in their jobs, they may be willing to work hard and invest themselves into an organisation. Offering professional development opportunities, supporting them to further their education, and mentorship programs are all enticing and motivating to millennial workers.
In other words, money won’t be enough to entice them. Millennials can be idealistic when it comes to their advancement, so offering them professional and personal growth opportunities can help bring out the best in them.
Let Them Know You Value Them
David Kurzman founded the start-up Women’s Best, which is dedicated to helping women lead healthier lives. He works extensively with millennials and believes the secret to getting the most out of younger workers is to make them feel appreciated. “A good working atmosphere is even more important to them than the financial compensation,” he says.
Something as simple as setting up monthly one-on-one meetings with your millennial employees can make a huge impact. This lets younger workers know that they are valued as individuals and it gives them a chance to ask questions and bring up any concerns. As millennials want to grow professionally, they’ll also appreciate the opportunity to have someone they respect let them know what they can do to improve.
Let Them Have Their Tech
Millennials grew up with technology, so they also expect to use it in the workplace. If your business depends on outdated legacy software and non-digital methods, you’re sending a message to millennial employees that your company may not have the vision or drive to succeed in the future or, worse, that they’re not simply welcome. You’ll keep them inspired with the smart use of technology and digital devices. And, since they know how to use it, their productivity is also likely to increase, which will have a positive impact on your organisation as a whole.
Making sure that your company is up-to-date with the digital revolution also sends the message that you would like to work with them, that they’re welcome, and that they can thrive in the culture you offer.
Despite their talents, many older managers and business owners are still quite unconvinced when it comes to hiring millennials. This could be because of preconceptions or notions such as they like to take it easy, they’re too idealistic, they act overly-entitled, or they tend to lose focus easily. While these may be true, depending on the specific person, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t hire them. It’s important you see the value young people bring to your organisation, both in action and in words.
Disagreements with them will arise—this is a given with any employees. How you deal with it is what’s crucial. You should act as a leader or a mentor —be firm but also make it a point to listen to what they have to say. Make it a point to demonstrate to them that you have no biases towards them. While differences in handling work or miscommunication are still bound to occur, if you show that you accept them, they’ll still want to work with you. Remember, millennials are also quite receptive. They’ll know if you don’t want to work with them, even if you don’t say it.
Give Them a Chance to Lead
Learn to give your millennial workers the lead role on specific tasks or projects, even the minor ones. Nurture them and let them discover their strengths, their determination, and how they can improve their work ethic and attitude towards facing challenging tasks.
Millennials are the present and the future, and they offer a treasure trove of skills and possibilities. To harness that potential, it’s important not to look at the younger generation as a liability and, instead, focus on helping them fulfil their true potential.
If you find yourself needing more advice or guidance when it comes to boosting your business or career, you could always seek help from others. At Behind Closed Doors, we value and encourage women to support other women in their professional development and journey. With our peer mentoring, networking, events and other resources, we have the means to make this happen and to make women become better versions of themselves in their careers or businesses. Please don’t hesitate to contact us today and understand how we can work together for your success.
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