They make up the largest segment of the workforce. They were all but born with computer chips in their brains. But can you manage millennials in a way that grows your company and keeps those movers and shakers from moving on?
Millennials actually have two monikered generations to their credit. Collectively, they account for those born between 1981 and 2001. Gen Y is the first half, Gen Z the second.
What differentiates the two is also what defines them collectively: technology.
To Baby Boomers, it may all sound the same. But to millennials, the gap is no small thing. Gen Y millennials grew up with computers, cell phones (remember those?) and video games. Gen Z millennials went straight to tablets, smartphones and apps.
In 2016, this segment known for making eye contact only with tech devices became the largest segment in the US workforce. In 2017 millennials occupied 35% of the workforce, with 56 million either working or looking for work. By 2020, they will claim half of it.
Their numbers are leaving Gen Xers and Baby Boomers in their dust. And their unique qualities and skill sets are forcing those in traditional power positions to rethink how they manage millennials.
According to Forbes, millennials are the most educated and culturally diverse of any prior generation. They also have a stark distaste for bureaucracy, and aren’t silent about their distrust of traditional hierarchies, whether in politics or business.
Sounds like enough to give leadership a case of the crazies, doesn’t it?
But there are two sides to every coin. If you want to cash in on the progressive attributes of this generation, how you manage millennials could determine your company’s future.
Before tackling new management strategies for this cohort, it’s imperative to face one non-negotiable fact. If they don’t feel treated right, they will go somewhere else.
So how do you harness that millennial energy to inspire growth and loyalty? Here are 5 unexpected ways to manage millennials by opening your mind, shifting your thinking…and embracing the one constant in life: change.
- Understand who they are.
Millennial workers are looking for more than just a paycheck. They’re looking for an experience. They aren’t willing to zipline from first job to retirement, content with traditional benefits and structured rules. They expect to believe in and connect with the brand they represent.
They expect to have opportunities to grow personally and in their careers. And they are passionate about making a difference — not just in the workplace, but in the world.
They’re not content to sit in a cubicle for nine hours, deriving stats and changes-on-paper. They want to be in the trenches, participating in and experiencing the expression of their values and passions.
Truthfully, that’s an authenticity that warrants respect and admiration. And if they don’t get it with you, they will move on to where they will.
- Share the company vision by connecting to and including them.
If you’re going to manage millennials to your company’s benefit, you need to embrace the concept of connection.
Connect the employee to the mission of the company and its brand. Connect to the employee’s values and concerns. Connect the employee with other employees. Connect the employee to his/her own creativity and give it a canvas for expression.
And most importantly, include your employees in the establishment of clear goals. If something affects them or expects something of them, they want to be included in it.
You have a rare opportunity to stretch and be stretched when you manage millennials.
- Help them learn and grow on an ongoing basis.
Millennials can challenge you with the same qualities that make them indispensable employees. They are willing to work, but they expect you to help them move forward and upward.
Creating “‘tweener” steps and titles will help them feel recognized and in touch with their increasing potential. It will also afford you both the opportunity for ongoing training that creates a more organic enrichment model than traditional approaches to promotions.
Important in this strategy is regular feedback. Millennials aren’t content with the “annual review.” They want to know how they are doing now, and they crave the engagement with those for whom they perform.
The upside for you is that ideas and performance corrections are on the table before there are negative consequences.
- Get ready to give back.
Again, it’s imperative to understand your employees. This generation, more than any other before it, cares about making a favorable impact on the world.
They look for companies with a socially-conscious brand and philanthropic commitment. But they are also watching to make sure charitable companies aren’t using their goodwill to hide irresponsibility behind closed doors.
They’re looking for authenticity and meaning because they’re bringing them to the table.
- Be flexible.
This area may be the biggest stretch for you and/or your company.
Keeping track of employees and their performance may seem easier when they are dutifully in their seats, lined up in a matrix of cubicles. But you can’t have your passion while penning it up.
Millennials are very aware of life outside of the office. And that’s really where they would prefer to work — at least part of the time.
How you handle the time-commitment component of your employment agreement could be the stay-or-go deciding factor.
Shift your thinking to an emphasis on consistency of performance and communication. You just may see your brand getting more exposure in the real world, and your millennials enthusiastic about the next tier of goals for your company.
In order to manage millennials to the benefit of everyone and the company at large, take stock of their strengths. You hired them for a reason. Even if you “need” this generation for its second-nature tech skills, there are globally impactful qualities that drive its talent.
Technology is here to stay. And so are the young people who know how to optimize it.
As the saying goes, the only thing constant in life is change.
If you need to better manage millennials for your company’s next generation of success, we can help you optimize this unique talent pool. You can reach us here.