By: Nicole Hitch
What I often hear from leaders that predominantly are from either the Gen X or Baby Boomer generations are as follows; “I have no idea what they want or how to communicate to them, they expect the world on a silver platter, it is never their fault, they haven’t put in their dues but expect recognition”… you get the idea. They are referring to the generation known as the Millennials. So how does one lead a Millennial? Let’s start with, what is a Millennial? The “Millennial Generation” also known as “Gen Y” are individuals that were typically born between 1982 – 2001. Some words that have been used by various articles on Generations to describe the Millennials include: Special, Confident, Sheltered, Generation Me vs. Generation We, Achieving, Expectant, Tech-savvy, and Social. Not all individuals born in this specified time frame fit the type of individual who we are addressing in this article, and yet there may be some “Gen X” (born between 1960 – 1981) individuals may also fit into this category. Either way, the question remains, how does one lead individuals who seemingly know it all, expect recognition and don’t care to put in their time? The following are the best ways to approach this generation
Millennial’s live by their value system, not only in their personal lives, but also in their work life. In order to engage a Millennial they need to feel that their value system is in sync with their place of employment, including the style of management. Savvy managers and executives will look to build in pieces to their corporate policies and procedures that hit on the following values.
- The ability to express themselves and their skills – Give them projects that are interesting and challenging. Give them opportunities to utilize their skills, the autonomy to do their jobs and trust that they are the professionals you hired them to be.
- Millennial’s need to feel you have earned their respect (regardless of your age, title or status). Get to know them and earn their respect, don’t demand it. After all, they expect the same in return.
- Collaboration – Give them opportunities to collaborate with their peers, supervisors or other team members.
- Work/Life Balance – This blends well with the next bullet point as well. Give them an opportunity to have a life outside of work. A 50+ hour work week can happen from time to time, but it definitely shouldn’t be expected to be the norm.
- Flexibility – Weather this means, flexible hours (come in early, leave early, come in later leave later) and/or telecommuting options, Millennials think the idea of a 9-5 job, at your desk all day is extremely archaic.
- Affirmation (Millennials want to know when they are doing a good job and want to be appreciated) – During their reviews as well as when appropriate, let them know where they are doing well, they also respect constructive feedback and mentoring (see the tab on learning)
- Social Responsibility – They expect the company they work for to be socially responsible, many Millennials will not work for companies that are not. So, give them opportunities to help with corporate philanthropic and social responsibility initiatives, and if your company doesn’t have anything now, give your Millennials the opportunity to collaborate with you on setting something up!
- Learning – They want to do well and improve. They are hungry for mentorship and professional growth opportunities. This goes along with the feedback, if they are doing something wrong, they want to understand why it is wrong and how best to fix it.
- Making a Difference – Millennials don’t just want to work for any company, nor are they interested in “climbing the corporate ladder,” they want to feel like their work is making a difference, that they are leaving behind a legacy of positive change.
Millennials are the Tech Savvy generation, and in being technology savvy, they are extremely use to communicating in a variety of different forms and can easily transition between all of them. That being said, the easiest way to get a hold of a Millennial the quickest is by far, texting them. Millennials are not opposed to calls, but if you really want to communicate with them in the way they communicate most frequently about things that need a short and quick answer, get busy and text them. In terms of communication style, Millennials could care less about corporate hierarchy, and this reflects greatly in their style of communication. Speak to them as a person with whom you respect and you will get the responses you are looking for. Millennials are extremely good at picking up on anyone who is talking down to them, feels they are more important than them, or in general treating them in any other way that that of a person who is respected, so that golden rule of “treat others the way you wish to be treated” or shall I say “communicate with the Millennials the way you wish for them to communicate with you” applies directly here.
As I alluded to above, Millennials don’t just give out respect because you may be older, have more experience, have a higher title or be their boss. They view respect as something that is earned no matter who you are. So, as I said above, get to know them, see their value, and let them earn your respect. You showing you honor their values and communicate with them as a respected professional will go a long ways in earning their respect.
In conclusion, I have covered three main areas that when understood and applied makes it possible and even enjoyable to lead Millennials. These include: Values, Communication and Respect. By understanding and honoring the Millennials’ values, understanding the best way to communicate with them and knowing how to and not being above earning their respect will also earn you an employee that will be willing to go above and beyond to accomplish your goals and mission.
Best of luck to you in your future endeavors and as always if you have any questions or wish to work with me as an executive coach, please feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Author:
Nicole Hitch is the Founder and Owner of Blue Wave Professionals. As a Certified Professional, Career and Executive Coach, Nicole has been extremely successful in helping professionals, in all levels of their careers, reach their goals. Nicole offers an unusual mix of pragmatism and emotional intelligence in her coaching and offers coaching packages for both corporations and individuals. For more information visit: www.bluewaveprofessionals.com