Last week I suggested that perhaps we should change our attitude about Millennials and GenXers. (Do Our Younger Workers Deserve Some R.E.S.P.E.C.T.?) After all, the “older generation” was once the “next generation”. That younger generation always brings fresh eyes and innovation to create new things and solve problems—even if they do create challenges in the workplace.
But What Great Leaders Know About Leading Millennials boils down to understanding that Millennials live in a world where one corporation will not define their career. They saw how devastating it was for their grandfather to lose his job after a lifetime of working at a corporation like IBM, Xerox, or Bethlehem Steel. In a world where the contract between employee and employer has eroded, can we blame the Millennial for being wary of bureaucracy and seeking agility in his or her career decisions?
Leading Millennials may take nothing more than sound management techniques for the whole workforce. Here are a few strategies:
1. Make the work purposeful.
Employee engagement, a culture in which an employee is committed and passionate about the work and company, is the perfect environment for Millennials. To achieve that, determine what an employee does best and then give them plenty of opportunity to do it. When employees feel that their work is meaningful and valuable to the organization, they throw themselves into it.
2. Provide feedback, fast and often.
With their social media connections, Millennials are accustomed to real-time notifications and updates, so their expectations in the workplace are no different.
3. Help them thrive.
Forget the formal “career path” that takes years to follow,Millennials want to develop personally and professionally, so hear where they want to go and what they want to learn, then offer projects that help them achieve their goals. Your personal attention in tailoring opportunities for growth and development will help your employee feel connected and valued.
4. Mentor, don’t manage.
Millennials respond to coaching better than supervising. The corporate hierarchy of their grandfather’s world has been replaced with team work and creative problem solving. Good coaches state a goal and provide an outline, then empower employees to develop solutions and execute.
Being a leader in today’s workplace is hard, for sure, but adopting strategies that help employees care about their work, their team, and their company will help everyone succeed.