MILLENNIALS ARE BETTER THAN YOU THINK!
WHEN I HEAR PEOPLE GO OFF ON THE MILLENNIAL GENERATION AND THEN VENT THEIR ANGST TOWARD IT—I’M REMINDED OF A CARTOON I ONCE SAW THAT READ-“IF YOU ARE GOING TO TRAIN A DOG YOU MUST BE SMARTER THAN THE DOG”.
With the “Greatest generation” mostly gone from the work force, there are three left. The Boomers-Gen X and The Millennials. If for no other reason that the fact that millennials are the largest and growing segment of the workforce it is incumbent that leaders learn how to work with and accomplishment the results needed through them.
Sadly they are often stereotyped as the entitled generation. They are portrayed as being obsessed with themselves, proven by their passion for taking selfies and being self employed. So why would companies want such needy, self-obsessed, tech-savvy, career-driven, creative, knowledge-hungry Millennials working for them? Well, it’s pretty simple. Nothing is more complex than a human being and characterizing them as all the same is both ignorant and fatal to a leaders chances of success. So let’s look at why you MUST learn how to lead them!!!
1. Millennials are the largest segment of the workforce today!
2. Millennials are the most engaged workers today when the conditions are right. But they do like to work on different terms. Up to 60% of them will bring work home with them to get it done and even work while on vacation.
3. They are creative and very good at conceiving new ideas.
4. They are so tech savvy and that often gives them the ability to be much faster where the work involves the use of technology than the other generations who generally possess far fewer skills in the use of technology tools.
5. They have less fear of learning new ways and means as they grew up with something new all the time as a way of life.
Millennials have learned to challenge the status quo and like to ask the question, “Why?” Because “I said so” is not an acceptable answer to them and often means “I don’t know” to them and your opinion doesn’t count. They want to know the value upfront of the projects they are working on and the vision of the companies they work for. They won’t waste time on things they don’t believe in, and won’t give up on the things that they do.
So let’s look at some solutions to getting them to achieve the goals and needs of a business.
1. Autonomy: The ability to achieve one’s own way, as long as the goal is reached.
Millennials want independence. They want the ability to work from home and manage their own time. When done well, offering Millennials autonomy can result in: Higher output due to motivation from responsibility; truly creative problem-solving; lower turnover over time from higher engagement with projects; and stronger employer-employee relationships.
One thing to be aware of: Avoid promoting a lack of quality control and freedom without direction. Make sure you hold Millennials accountable for their actions and work to make sure quality doesn’t suffer.
2. Social Connectivity: An environment where Millennials connect with each other in such a way that fosters greater business results.
Millennials don’t see a line separating work relationships from personal ones. Offering Millennials social connectivity in the workplace can lead to enhanced collaboration derived from stronger relationships, greater tenure due to personal investment in company, and higher levels of peer accountability. Regardless, you must make sure the work environment is still first and the social environment second. A leader will know how to communicate this in an acceptable way that get’s their cooperation.
3. Growth Opportunities: Opportunities that expand the production capacity of the employee in a way that benefits the Millennial and the company.
Millennials are more concerned with their career growth that most of the prior generation. And after this last generation opportunities for growth are a huge factor in retention. Loyalty alone is no longer sufficient since they grew up in a world where corporations and companies treated people as line items on the balance sheets and no longer rewarded tenure and loyalty. Tenure is seen as a thing of the past; Millennials believe that if they work hard enough, they can start moving up the corporate ladder immediately and allowing this in smaller increments is a great solution. Sort this issue out before you hire and make certain their desire’s to grow are not unreasonable and that they understand growth requires achievement and than spell out what that means before you hire.
Motivating Millennials with professional development opportunities can lead to: Faster learning, as long as there is a mutual understanding of growth requirements; a results-oriented culture that promotes a fast growth of skills; and increased ambition, as Millennials don’t “wait around” for their turns.
4. Company Perks & Benefits.
The best of companies understand that small conveniences can be huge rewards. The tech industry and companies like google have mastered this through small perks that make life more enjoyable by having things like a laundry or day care or various types of food and so and so on available during lunch, break time, etc. When they feel valued by their employers, they work harder. At best, they will become an employer brand champion. Offering Millennials meaningful, everyday lifestyle conveniences will make their everyday lives much easier, make employees see the employer as key to that ease, and encourage Millennials to spend more time at work because she/he won’t have to do as many mundane tasks. However, do not pamper to spoil your employees. Providing lifestyle conveniences is about demonstrating that you value employees, not fostering a sense of entitlement.
5. Purposeful Work: Work that clearly relates to the ultimate output of the company and matters to the individual.
Millennials want to believe in their company’s vision and mission. Simon Sinek spoke to the Vision issue in a book entitled, Start’s with the Why and explains the power of Vision. It is innate in most of us to want to believe in a purpose or cause and when that is tied to the gifts and skills so unique in each of us we will excel. In fact this is far more important to them than it has been to any other generation. Not only does a company have to make its corporate vision known to the team, but it must communicate how each employee is helping to reach it. By offering Millennials purposeful work, employees will know exactly how their work relates to larger business outcomes. They’ll unite around a clear, powerful company vision, and company core values will be seen as exciting and not boilerplate.
Be careful not to encourage the “It’s all about me” syndrome. This is when employees think their personal interests override business goals. When this happens, employees aren’t committed to the company’s long-term goals. In fact, they are more likely to make decisions that make themselves feel better even if it means trumping sound business decisions. Getting this right begins with the recruiting and hiring and not through change that comes after an employment agreement is entered into.
Learn to master these few items and you will quickly ascend to the top in your ability to develop and retain high performance teams that lead to success! And because they are people just like us in many ways it’s important to treat them right because it is the right thing to do.
So the question remains-WILL YOU CHOOSE TO BE SMARTER THAN THE DOG? YOUR ANSWER WILL DETERMINE YOUR SUCCESS!