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The reputation of the newest generation in the national workforce may have preceded it – perhaps unfairly.
Millennials – those born between 1982 and 2000 – are widely believed to be entitled know-it-alls who are difficult to manage. But there are challenges inherent in management that span generations. Most traditional leadership skills still apply, even when supervising the youngest generation. Don’t ever assume there’s a one-size-fits-all management philosophy. That being said, it’s good to understand some inherent traits of the generation, which will soon be a dominant percentage of the entire workforce. Many, in fact, are already in managerial roles. Here are five tips to managing Millennials you may encounter by way of a staffing service or franchise like AtWork Group:
- Provide feedback early and often. Millennials are the first hyper-hardwired generation and are used to processing layer upon layer of information. They are used to positive feedback from engaged parents, and need to be admonished carefully. They want to be part of a team, but also want their individual contributions recognized.
- Allow flexibility. Generation X strives for work-life balance. For many Millennials, there is no such dichotomy. They are always on. Life is work, and work is life, but it must be undertaken on their own terms. Allow telecommuting when possible, as well as fairly flexible work schedules. They tend to fill their time away from work with fun activities and can be surprisingly community-centered given their hardwired ways.
- Keep them engaged and challenged. They are always looking ahead to the next task, and bore easily. They are also notorious for job-hopping when their needs aren’t met or they don’t feel valued. So keep a steady and varied workload headed their way, but too much monotony can lead them out the door.
- Use and value their technology skills. Again, they are the most connected generation in history. Networking is second nature, and they have a wide knowledge of computers, mobile devices and applications. Millennials are master multitaskers, and it is said multitasking is best avoided for optimal focus, but let them find their own way forward. Again, they’ve had more screen time with more potential distractions than any young workforce in history.
- Provide metrics and roadmaps. They often recognize and respect the skills and experience of older team members and managers, and they crave solid leadership and management by example. You run the risk of losing their interest and respect, however, if their own feedback and ideas aren’t acknowledged. They also want definite metrics and clearly stated goals and missions. They tend to take a broad view of the world and their exact role in it, so make them feel trusted and in the know. One approach is to let them know why a specific task is important to company goals.
Again, no employees are the same, be they Baby Boomers, GenXers or Millennials. There is no blueprint for managing any individual, let alone an entire generation.
But with 75 million Millennials in or about to be part of the workforce, some generational deference is definitely needed. Just remember: They want clear-cut goals; they want to contribute; they want the big picture; and they want flexibility and fun in their work. Most importantly, they want, and deserve, respect.