Every few years brings a new generation. With each generation comes a new set of mentalities, expectations, and challenges. The task of a manager is a challenging one, involving understanding and reacting to these changing circumstances and expectations in ways that bring financial and personal success. And while psychologists may understand the underlying mechanics of behavior, it is unlikely that the rest of us will without a little help.
The millennial generation’s particular challenge is a new set of workplace expectations that demand value in a very real way. The desire for meaningful projects, the opportunity to flex their mental muscle, and the feeling that something important is coming from their efforts drives their work in a way that can require a little maintenance at times. Since you can’t psychically know exactly how to treat them, here are some suggestions for creating an environment that will benefit millennials and older generations alike.
1. Provide opportunities for ownership
It has been said (accurately or not) that millennials express a degree of entitlement in the workplace. They crave the opportunity to be a part of something important and meaningful, and for that reason should be given the chance to feel as though they are a part of something significant. Know your employees and identify their strengths. Give them the chance to leverage those strengths in significant ways. This doesn’t mean giving them full authority over a major project, but delegating important tasks to younger workers can provide a feeling of investment that will help morale and productivity.
This trick doesn’t simply apply to millennials either. Each generation, young and old, wants the opportunity to feel that they are contributing something meaningful to the place where so much of their time is spent. Giving that to them is not just pleasing to employees, it maximizes your team’s potential by tapping into enthusiasm and talent.
2. Embrace flexibility
The one-size fits all model of working has fallen out of favor as our understanding of individual productivity needs has changed. The fact is that no two employees work the same way. Employing a method of management that values contribution over raw output can help give a better understanding of what each individual brings to the table. In the realm of part-time work, the hourly configuration is a must. However, focusing on the efficiency of those hours instead of simple totals will give a better understanding of employee ability in the long run.
3. Be supportive
Millennials in particular thrive on encouragement. In an era of social networking, the need for validation, digital or otherwise, has risen to new heights. Understanding the need for reassurance and feedback possessed by younger employees can help guide your mentorship efforts. Consider meeting with all your employees for small, five-minute chunks of time to offer encouragement and recognize their proficiencies. Doing so will not only boost their confidence, but incentivize good work.
This method works not only because of the specific needs of millennials, but because of the universal need of all employees to feel that their work is of significance. Besides providing ownership opportunities, recognizing the value of good work also puts their work in a context that rewards extra effort, breeding the motivation for additional effort in the future.
4. Offer development opportunities
The millennial worker is more likely to have a degree in higher education, yet employers are reluctant to offer professional development training. Workshops and development courses can teach essential job skills while overcoming their deficiencies in the process. Furthermore, the advantage of a skilled, knowledgeable staff can bolster productivity and inspire an atmosphere of improvement and creativity; useful qualities in any workplace.
5. See past stereotypes
The common thread in most modern criticisms of millennials is that they possess inherently different and negative qualities that must be overcome. However, at their core, young workers want the same things that any other worker would: the chance to make money doing meaningful work for an organization they care about. Avoid focusing on their youth or “entitlement issues” and concentrate on seeing the qualities, qualifications, and knowledge below. Doing so can help you take advantage of that knowledge to the benefit of the bottom line and the working atmosphere.
The new generation introduces its challenges to the workplace, but it also brings unique assets that should not be ignored. Give millennials the opportunity to feel invested in your organization. Embrace models of management that value efficiency and contribution while being flexible in the scope and subject of assigned tasks. Be a positive force in their lives and offer opportunities to grow as workers and human beings. Finally, don’t focus on their generational identity, but instead see their assets as a welcome addition to your team. Doing so will mean happier workers, happier bosses, and happier budgets, and a generational empathy that will highlight your strengths in the process.5 Tips For Managing Millennials Chad Halvorson