“Invest in yourself before you expect others to invest in you.” -Chip Espinoza
Your success as a leader is not always about how well your team understands you; it’s about how well you understand your team. One of the trending and highly debated topics in project management today is Millennials. Roughly 80 million Americans are in the Millennial generation, meaning they were born between 1980-2000. Statistics show that they are currently the single largest generation in the workforce, and they are projected to be more than 50% of the overall workforce by 2020. They’re here now. Are you really prepared? Every generation has expectations for their careers and lives. For example, millennials’ grandparents took it for granted that loyalty to an employer would pay off in a guaranteed pension. A little compassion for millennials’ points of view goes a long way.
Leaders of millennials will need coaching in order to adapt to the different style of leadership these young workers desire and respond to best. As a coach myself, I have researched a lot of studies to understand how to work with millennials and here are the best ways (in my opinion) a leader can succeed in managing and mentoring millennials.
Provide structure. Reports have monthly due dates. Jobs have fairly regular hours. Certain activities are scheduled every day. Meetings have agendas and minutes. Goals are clearly stated and progress is assessed. Define assignments and success factors.
Provide leadership and guidance. Millennials want to look up to you, learn from you, and receive daily feedback from you. They want “in” on the whole picture and to know the scoop. Plan to spend a lot of time teaching and coaching and be aware of this commitment to millennials when you hire them. They deserve and want your very best investment of time in their success.
Encourage the millennial’s self-assuredness, “can-do” attitude, and positive personal self-image. Millennials are ready to take on the world. Their parents told them they can do it – they can. Encourage – don’t squash them or contain them.
Take advantage of the millennial’s comfort level with teams. Encourage them to join. They are used to working in groups and teams. In contrast to the lone ranger attitude of earlier generations, millennials actually believe a team can accomplish more and better – they’ve experienced team success. Not just related to age, watch who joins the volleyball match at the company picnic. Millennials gather in groups and play on teams; you can also mentor, coach, and train your millennials as a team.
Listen to the millennial employee. Your millennial employees are used to loving parents who have scheduled their lives around the activities and events of their children. These young adults have ideas and opinions, and don’t take kindly to having their thoughts ignored. After all, they had the best listening, most child-centric audience in history.
Millennial employees are up for a challenge and change. Boring is bad. They seek ever-changing tasks within their work. What’s happening next is their mantra. Don’t bore them, ignore them, or trivialise their contribution.
Millennial employees are multi-taskers on a scale you’ve never seen before.Multiple tasks don’t phase them. Talk on the phone while doing email and answering multiple instant messages – yes! This is a way of life. In fact, without many different tasks and goals to pursue within the week, the millennials will likely experience boredom.
Take advantage of your millennial employee’s computer, cell phone, and electronic literacy Are you a Boomer or even an early Gen-Xer? The electronic capabilities of these employees are amazing. You have a salesman in China? How’s the trip going? Old timers call and leave a message in his hotel room. Or, you can have your millennial text message him in his meeting for an immediate response. The world is wide, if not yet deep, for your millennial employees.
Capitalise on the millennial’s affinity for networking. Not just comfortable with teams and group activities, your millennial employee likes to network around the world electronically. Keep this in mind because they are able to post their resume electronically as well on Web job boards viewed by millions of employers. Sought after employees, they are loyal, but they keep their options open – always.
Provide a life-work balanced workplace. Your millennials are used to cramming their lives with multiple activities. They may play on sports teams, walk for multiple causes, spend time as fans at company sports leagues, and spend lots of time with family and friends. They work hard, but they are not into the sixty hour work weeks defined by the Baby Boomers. Home, family, spending time with the children and families, are priorities. Don’t lose sight of this. Balance and multiple activities are important to these millennial employees.
Provide a fun, employee-centered workplace. Millennials want to enjoy their work. They want to enjoy their workplace. They want to make friends in their workplace. Worry if your millennial employees aren’t laughing, going out with workplace friends for lunch, and helping plan the next company event or committee. Help your long-term employees make room for the millennials.
Now that you’ve learned more about millennials, their differences may seem less glaring than you previously thought. Approached in the right way, millennials have more positive attributes than flaws, and they have plenty of energy, knowledge and inspiration to offer employers. Yet, I believe that, if you heed these tips, you will steer your organisation forward, more times than not, with a positive approach to managing your millennial employees.