A Simple Guide for Managers to Manage Millennials Effectively
So, exactly what millennials want from managers and work? What makes this generation so important but tricky to handle?? Are millennials really difficult to work with or these are just myths? In this article, we plan to address all these questions about this unpredictable generation.
Managing millennials has been a trending topic in the world of management and leadership. They form an integral part of the present workforce and are the leaders of tomorrow.
Their habits, working style and preferences play a major role in formulating work culture. Thus, understanding their needs is integral for managers like you.
WHO ARE THE MILLENNIALS?
Millennials or Gen-Y is a term used for those who were born between 1981 and 1996. Contrary to popular belief, millennials fall into a wide age-range; this implies that a millennial could be either 22 or even a 37-year-old.
“Millennial values can be both contradictory and oddly pragmatic. Millennials value accomplishment over time logged, inclusion over exclusion, yoga pants over jeans (not literally) and sometimes, pets over kids.”
— Accel & Qualtrics, The Millennial Study
However, what ties them together is their shared traits. They are all tech-savvy, multi-taskers and crave optimum work-life balance. This generation believes in social values, ownership and accountability.
WHAT MAKES MILLENNIALS IN WORKPLACE DIFFERENT FROM OTHERS?
Millennials dominate the US workforce at present. By 2030, this number will increase and they will constitute more than 75% of the total US workforce. Naturally, it is essential to analyze and understand their behavior to predict the upcoming work culture.
There are a few characteristics which make Gen Y or millennials different from their previous generation. Let’s discuss some of them.
- TECH-SAVVY: They were born during the renaissance of the technology. In fact, the younger generation of millennials might not even remember life before the internet.However, all of them rely heavily on technology in the workplace.They are called “digital natives” and are more comfortable with technology than their seniors. Their ease with technology helps them in embracing technical shifts quickly and swiftly.
- ADAPTABLE TO CHANGE: They are the rebels and non-conformists. They are curious by nature and are always looking for new ways to complete a task. This trait makes change management easier with the millennial workforce.If you can convince them of the benefits of a new rule, they are the first ones to adopt it.
- VALUE LEARNING: The millennial generation know the importance of constant up-skilling and learning. Unlike their senior counterparts, they take training sportingly and actively.As a manager, you can always rely on millennials to learn new techniques and bring innovation to your process. In fact, they are always on a look-out for ways to be ahead in the game.
- OPEN TO FEEDBACK: Millennials don’t believe in hierarchical structures and consider their bosses to be their mentors. They take ownership of their work and want constant feedback for their performance.Millennials grew up with instant gratification and quick connections. Needless to mention, this generation has embraced one-on-one culture like nobody else.
Building a workplace for millennials is about striking the right balance between technology and people-centric approach. For them, tech and human relations are complementary to each other.
Understanding them is not as complicated as people have led you to believe. So, we have compiled a few tips to help you manage millennials better. Here they are –
Managing Millennials – Essential Tips for Managers to Understand Them Better
- Provide Leadership and Guidance
While millennials disregard authoritarian attitude, they are enamored with charismatic leadership. They want to work under a leader who treats them with respect and is involved in their growth.Millennials want a guide in their manager and the best way to encourage them is by helping them achieve their best. If you want to manage millennials, you must become their mentor before being a manager.
TIP: Keep aside some time in your one-on-ones to speak to them regarding their persona aspiration and bottlenecks they may be facing. Provide them with genuine advice to mentor their growth.
- Never Miss Constructive Feedback
Millennials are a smarter generation and they can see through both fake compliments and criticism. When they perform a task, they expect their leader to critically analyses it and provide them with a constructive feedback.Sugarcoating doesn’t work for them; yet, they would want their leaders to be polite and friendly. The trick is to strike a balance and provide them with a real response.
TIP: Start the conversation with the positive aspects and then, move on to the improvement areas. Do not use harsh words but suggest a better way of doing things.You could also cite your own experiences to make things more relatable.
- Recognize Their Good Work:
Recognition matters for millennials. A token of appreciation for their hard work would result in even better efforts. In fact, 79% of millennials have admitted that an increase in recognition would make them more loyal to the company.
“The vast majority of young workers in the U.S. are feeling a strong level of dissatisfaction with their employers, resulting in an urge to seek more rewarding and validating work outside of their current organizations,” said Rodney Mason, chief revenue officer of daVinci Payemts, a payroll technology firm.
While most organizations believe that their quarterly awards are enough, the employees share different sentiments. Let’s see how you could help.
TIP: Do not depend upon organizational level recognition. A single word of praise in team meetings, a congratulatory e-mail and a pat on the back goes a long way into appreciating someone’s efforts.
- Promote Effective Communication
Millennials grow up in an environment where communication is free-flowing. Thus, an organization which restrains or limits communication never retains millennial employees.They have a no-nonsense attitude and need their team to be transparent and honest.One of the most important factor to keep millennials engaged in workplace is through clear communication.
TIP: Ensure that the lines for communication are clearly set. Encourage everyone to share their opinion during meetings and always remain open for feedback.
- Facilitate Their Learning and Growth:
Unlike the previous generation, millennials are always in the look-out for adding new skills and growing themselves. As per research, around 72% of millennials value opportunities to learn in a workplace more the previous generation.They are more aware of the changing scenario and want to keep themselves updated. For them, a good work culture comprises of opportunities to learn and implement their knowledge.
TIP: As a manager, you must keep track of every individual’s learning curve. When an employee notices that his/her growth matters to the top leaders, they are encouraged to do better and put in more efforts.
One way to ensure this is by including this topic in your check-ins or one-on-ones – ask them “did you learn something new lately?” and take their feedback regarding the training.
- Eliminate Rigid Authority By Embracing Flat Hierarchy
Millennials give respect to the work and not to the designation. This may sound negative in the beginning but it is this trait which makes this generation more productive, ambitious and driven.You will find that they pose difficult questions to authority and toe the line only if they’re convinced.However, most managers find this generation undisciplined because of this reason. But, a great manager would know how to command respect from them.
TIP: The best way to mitigate this is by initiating meaningful conversations. You would want to come across as a coach rather than a boss.
A one-on-one is a great opportunity to let your employee know that you’re there to help them grow and not just get the tasks done. The more approachable you are, the better for your relationship.
- Give Millennials a Chance to Get to Know You Better:
For millennials, their managers are their mentors, coach and trusted friends. They grew up in an environment where people encouraged them to speak freely and gave them constructive feedback.
If a millennial perceives that their manager is genuinely interested in their growth, they tend to be more agile and innovative. Thus, a manager needs to take an interest in every individual they’re working with.
TIP: Embrace one-on-ones religiously. You can speak to your employee about their aspirations, personal growth and expectation from the company.
Your dedicated half-an-hour every week can reap you many benefits in the long run.
- Help Them Achieve Work-Life Balance with Flexibility:
Millennials are task-oriented and not time-oriented. In fact, most of them believe that restrictions at the workplace stifle their creativity. Adding to this, around 69% of the millennials believe that regular office attendance is unnecessary.However, this doesn’t mean that they lack discipline or commitment. On the other hand, they believe that efficiency has nothing to do with spending hours in the office. For them, their work is an enabler, and not a hindrance, for a good life.
TIP: From an employee’s point of view, flexible timings seem like a simpler perk. However, a team leader has to inculcate accountability before allowing this.
Regular conversation and one-on-ones can help you instill ownership in the employees.Once you have set the boundaries for accountability, flexible timings would become beneficial for every party involved.
- Build an Organization That Reflects Social Values
As opposed to what you might have heard, millennials are more aware of social causes and believe in activism. They believe that it is our responsibility to bring about a social change and want to be associated with brands who resonate similar values.You will notice more contribution form them in your CSR activities and they have no qualms about sharing their opinion about culture and politics. Also, they embrace diversity better.
TIP: As a manager, you must consider this social awareness an advantage and encourage this. CSR activities are a major part of any organization at the moment and you can take your young employees’ help in conducting them.
It will help you to understand the real person behind your resource and will eventually affect the brand value of your company positively.
In present times, millennials form the biggest part of our workforce. They are in the entry-level, mid-senior and senior-level positions. Thus, managing them is an integral part of handling an entire organization.
However, managing millennials is not as difficult as people would like you to believe. A generation which grew up with access to information and freedom to express requires transparency, communication and clear accountability. If you can communicate with a millennial, you can manage them well.