What to Expect When Working with Millennials
Whether you’re managing them or they’re managing you, much can be said for the work ethics and attitudes of the Millennial Generation, that group of people born roughly between 1980 and 2000. Navigating the differing attitudes, work styles and problem-solving techniques of millennials can prove to be a challenge, but certainly not impossible with the right information and preparations in mind.
Of course, there will be a vast number of variations in personalities and work approaches across this group of people, and predicting behavior is always slippery. But it might help if you get familiar with a few of the basic tenets of this generation, so you can be prepared for anything.
Provide Open Communication
In other generations, you might have found it startling for an early-20s new hire to speak up in team meetings or present ideas as forcefully as the company veterans. But millennials value open communication, and have been encouraged, by parents, teachers and advisors, to insert themselves into conversations at all levels.
Balancing your own view of the inherent hierarchy in a company with respect for the new methods of communication introduced by millennials can be a delicate act; make certain that you don’t dismiss a millennials opinions flippantly or without considering their points first.
Provide Plenty of Feedback—Both Good and Bad
Because millennials grew up in an environment where they were constantly affirmed and encouraged, their work places need to offer regular feedback on their performances, and expound clearly and succinctly on the reasons certain criticisms, or compliments, are being given.
Millennials need communication and regular critiques of their performance. They need to know that they are contributing successfully, or that they aren’t measuring up. Regular performance reviews, weekly check-ins and other iterations of feedback will benefit both the millennial and the supervisor. The millennial will feel more in tune with their professional efficacy, and the supervisor will have the opportunity to keep everyone on track.
Be Willing to Admit to Mistakes
As much as millennials crave to be held accountable for their successes (and critiqued fairly in their failures), it is important that their superiors are accountable, as well. Refusing to acknowledge your own role in a mistake and off-loading responsibility solely on your subordinates will serve as a serious kink in your relationship with millennial employees. You need to prove that you’re in it alongside them and are willing to take responsibility when you make a bad call.
Learn About Meaningful Work
Unlike the generations that came before them, millennials aren’t keen on putting their heads down and doing the grunt work. They want meaningful work that provides them with self-expansion and a little bit of adventure. They don’t value a high paycheck as much as they value a work environment that stimulates and rewards them, creatively, inter-personally, and more.
Creating a corporate culture where your millennial employees feel stimulated and rewarded might seem like a tough equation; but as a manager, you have to know when to compromise with the busy work and when to explain, thoroughly, that some jobs just have to get done.
Collaboration is Key
Group work and collaboration are tantamount to many millennials’ work styles; creating an environment where group projects, open-floor discussions and other collaborative situations can help your millennial employees feel adjusted, appreciated and powerful in their sector. Thriving off of real-time feedback and exchange of ideas, millennials will feel embraced in a culture where they are familiar with their co-workers ideas’ and have the opportunity to engage in discourse about issues.
The future, while inevitably different, doesn’t have to throw you for a loop, especially when it comes to working effectively alongside the millennial generation.
Photo Credit: Cydcor Offices