"What’s up with the kids these days?” Let’s face it: this expression is as old as time itself. You can imagine caveman dad saying to caveman son, "We didn’t have the wheel when I was growing up! You have it easy!” Yet now, more than ever, this timeless expression is infiltrating the workplace in response to millennial employees.
For the first time in history, four generations are present in the workplace. Each has their own skill set, communication styles, work habits, and values which inevitably clash and create a challenging dynamic for traditionalists, boomers, generation X-ers, and millennials alike.
Perhaps the biggest clash is that of millennials and other generations. Employees struggle in dealing with this group calling them, "tech-savvy, entitled, high maintenance, silver spoon-fed brats.” The fact is, millennials are not better or worse than any other generation – they are just different. They have an enormous skill set, and they will shape the landscape of business in years to come – if we learn to work with them.
Here are five tips for managing and engaging your millennial employees:
- Provide feedback – early, and often. Millennials may give the air that they are confident,but this doesn’t mean they don’t want to improve. Millennials want to learn, grow, and develop.Unlike boomers, they will not benefit from only an annual review. They expect to be given constructive feedback on a daily basis. Be open, honest and direct and meet face-to-face. Share your management philosophy and style.
- Give them structure. Unlike boomers and Xers, millennials want to be
told exactly what todo. Their entire lives, their days have been
structured while parents, teachers, tutors, nannies,and coaches have
told them exactly what to do. In the workplace, they struggle with
taking initiative and prioritizing. Now, don’t give them a step-by-step
action plan for each of their tasks, but do schedule "check points” for
their assignments, and make time to answer their questions.
- Tell them why. Millennials have been taught to ask why. Growing up, when
they asked their parents and teachers "why?, they got answers other
than "because I said so.” As a result, they genuinely want to know the
reasoning behind why things are the way they are at work. When they ask
why, they expect an answer. Never give them a project without explaining
the big picture. Tell them why it’s important, even if it seems obvious
to you. Give definitive reasons for policies and procedures.
- Offer career advice. Not all millennials are job hoppers. It is
important that you offer opportunities for growth and development
according to their individual needs. Show them away that will allow them
to change paths within the same company. Encourage them to join
industry and professional organizations.
- Offer flexibility. Millennials value a parallel life, and work-life
balance is incredibly important.They are digital natives who believe
that technology allows work to be done anytime,anywhere. Consider
flexible work hours and trust them to work from home on a
Remember: millennials are not better or worse, they
are just different. Take advantage of their positive attitude, ability to
multitask, technical skills, and multicultural awareness. Don’t be
afraid to defy the golden rule and treat them the way they want to be
treated, as opposed to the way you want to be treated.
Brad Karsh is President and lead trainer at JB Training Solutions. An accomplished public speaker and author, Brad has been featured on CNN, CNBC, and Dr. Phil and has been quoted in The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, New York Times, USA Today, and many others. Brad is an advice columnist for Yahoo! and he is author of Confessions of a Recruiting Director (Prentice Hall Press, 2006). Prior to starting JB Training Solutions, Brad spent 15 years at advertising giant Leo Burnett in Chicago. He began his career in Account Management, working on clients including McDonald's, Procter & Gamble, and Pillsbury. He then moved into HR where he was responsible for hiring and training hundreds of employees.