For the workplace and the economy, Millennials are often seen as the most disruptive generation in history.
Millennials are those born between 1981 and 1996, meaning that they are in their early 20s to late 30s. Their work style, lifestyle, and habits vary significantly from the generations of the past.
Most Millennials are in the early part of their career or moving into more senior roles. It’s important to understand their values and operating modes in order to nurture these Millennials into becoming successful leaders for your company.
What You Need to Know about Millennials
It’s hard to categorize an entire generation of people across countries, cultures, and even ages. However, Millennials are the most studied generation in history and that means we have a lot of data and information on them. Discover the most important trends that ring true for managing Millennials in the workplace.
They are impatient and easily discouraged
Lets get their not-so-great qualities out of the way first. Millennials grew up in the age of instant gratification, so they tend to be impatient. They need to be taught how to slow down, give things their proper time, and wait for results. At least when the results come in, they will be agile in their response! Another thing that characterizes some Millennials is their tendency to become frustrated or give up when working in adverse conditions, with challenging tasks, and little guidance. This just means that your company needs to nurture them a little more to get them fully prepared.
They value self-development and lifelong learning
As people who also grew up during an economic recession, Millennials understand that the more skills you have, the better off you’ll be (especially soft skills). They want to better themselves and they expect their company and co-workers to share in this goal by having a specialized plan for training and development.
They want to be workplace advocates
Organizational values and corporate culture are important to this generation. They won’t take a job that feels like “just a job”. Millennials want meaning and growth from the work they do at your company. They want to be able to advocate for the company and share about their job on social media or with family and friends. They actually do believe in company loyalty, but only if they feel like they can grow at your company.
They can't thrive without feedback and input
Millennials like to know where they stand; they value feedback in order to improve and recognition when they deserve it. They also like transparency in workplace operation, salary, etc. More than this, they want to feel involved in the company on a deeper level. They want to have a say in things, trust their higher-ups and co-workers, and share their ideas freely.
They favor a flexible work environment
The Millennial generation understands the importance of a flexible, collaborative workplace environment. This means flexible working schedules, remote work, and freelancing or the use of freelancers. Millennials are open-minded and rely heavily on technology in all aspects of their job (and personal lives). Businesses that aren’t adaptable to these traits will lose great Millennial leaders to other companies.
Tips for Managing Millennials in the Workplace
In the coming years, Millennials are going to make up the largest portion of workers in the global workforce. If we don’t start preparing them to be leaders right now, our businesses and economies will suffer. But how do we cater to our traditional ways of working to the innovative, evolving (sometimes unpredictable) preferences of Millennials to enable them to become our future business leaders? We give you 5 steps:
1. Let them experiment
Millennials adapt well to new tools since they grew up in the age of the Internet, technology and apps. Instead of having them do repetitive, menial work, engage them in improving processes or efficiency. They will thrive in a more creative environment where they’re given freedom to innovate and experiment. Let them multi-task, utilize new tech tools, do A/B testing, etc. They may end up creating a better way of doing things.
2. Put them on cross-functional teams
With their diverse skill sets, Millennials make a great part of small, cross-functional teams. They are scrappy and resourceful, and don’t necessarily need to be an expert to get things done. When they work in a collaborative environment with a supportive team, they will thrive. You can also give them more control and responsibility over time, letting them manage other employees, projects, and even budgets. They’ll be working as an independent manager in no time.
3. Make them contribute more
As your Millennial employees gain more independence, make sure they’re actively speaking up at meetings or even leading the meetings themselves. Encourage brainstorming sessions and mind-mapping, anything to get them sharing ideas with their colleagues and higher-ups. Assign them a mentor within the company and foment this close relationship with constant contact, feedback, meetings, after-works, etc. When Millennials have the leeway to freely express their creative thoughts and ideas, they’ll be excited to contribute to the company and take charge of their own projects.
4. Help them become advocates
A company should always have diverse opinions and mindsets, but a leader needs to truly believe in what the business is doing. Ensure you have an established corporate culture and let Millennials help it evolve. Also make sure that your future leaders are dedicating enough of time doing what they’re interested in and inspired by. They’ll be more engaged with their work and more excited about the job. They will talk up the company online and encourage potential recruits to join the company.
5. Accommodate flexible schedules and work spaces
Depending on your business, you can offer remote work or not. However, if you can’t let your employees work from home at times, there are other things you can do, like flexible work hours (with a rolling start and end time). The key to a great remote workforce is trust and communication. With your Millennials, start off with a morning or day doing remote work. Monitor their activities/results and see how they interact with their teammates, always followed by constructive feedback.
Every Millennial is different, but by simply communicating with the Millennials on your team, you can discover their wants, needs, and aspirations and develop a leadership plan for each individual. Our 5 tips above will certainly help get them started on their path to becoming Millennial Managers. If you want to find out else we can be of help to your company, discover mbudo or download our new infographic on Millennials.