Ok so without really admitting my true age to the masses, I will let you know a few things about how I grew up and I will let you figure it out.
I used to go to Blockbuster when I wanted to see a newly released movie
I would spend hours reading books at the library when writing a paper
I used this thing called a payphone when I needed to call someone remotely
I would wait outside the CD store when new album came out
Sound familiar? Things are so different now, so convenient and technology rules the world. So, it can be difficult to relate these “old times” to a lot of the people I work with today. “The Millennials” By most definitions, millennial’s were born between 1982 and 1996
It can feel as if this new wave of young people creates some friction for older management, but as the IT leaders of the future, I learned to embrace my millennial counterparts, make them feel welcome, and more importantly, keep them engaged. Barely knowing a time without using email, these managers of the future will be more diverse, and have a vastly alternative outlook to many trends like technology innovation, security, management style and career planning.
They are either driving me batty or impressing the crap out of me! They can be hard to manage, easily frustrate with protocol and just plain lazy, or their creativity is absolutely brilliant and they don’t let the threat of failure bother them. Its really all in how you manage them that allows them to be most effective for your business.
Why We Love Them
Millennials have no fear and aren’t afraid of hard work. If you set the goal or target and release the reigns, they will find a way to get there and produce a pretty creative result. In my business, I employ a 26-year-old who is extremely tech savvy with a change-focused work ethic. It helps us old folk who are set in our ways, and provides a fresh outlook on things I may have overlooked. They have grown up learning that they need to constantly adapt to ever changing times especially when it comes to technology.
Working with millennials means taking on an appropriate management style, while being selective about what personalities will fit your specific working environment. I have learned that taking the time to find out what motivates them will pay off in the end!
Millennials by nature don’t really like rules. They grew up in an environment where parents asked their opinions, allowed them to make decisions, and rarely pushed something on them that they didn’t like. If you press too hard on them to comply with the company’s position on things like hours or attire, you could very easily find yourself losing a good employee.
Millennials are not good at interpreting what you meant and very rarely succeed when put into a situation to “wing it”. Though they want responsibility and authority, they are uncomfortable without having some sort of framework for the task at hand. Good instructions and a lot of flexibility in how you get there. They need to be kept engaged to produce a real value for the company. They crave a sense of ownership and purpose, so working towards the specifics of a certain goal is key.
One major pitfall that Gen X and baby boomers often fall into is trying to be cool and hip to attract and inspire younger workers. I myself fell into the trap when I was caught typing my virtual assistant. I used a couple of new age trendy words to the reaction of, “I am sorry Diane, I do not understand what you are saying”. Fail! Often this muddies the waters between leaders and their employees who would prefer clear direction.
It seems that Millennial’s want authenticity, and they’re craving the traditional values of a good leader. It’s okay to be old school! It’s about being a mixture of old and new, by being open to the new ideas but still being able to leverage that experience.
Good communication is also paramount to keep the culture open and considerate of individual needs. Millennials want to feel that their voice is heard and valued when it comes to working conditions and decision-making. If they’re unhappy about something they will have no fear about vocalising their frustration. It is important to listen to your employees and ask them what they would like to do and how they would like to achieve success. That way, you can adapt, change and modify based on that feedback.
Managing The Gen “Y” Staff
Ensuring that Millennials are working on interesting projects and feeling like they’re developing their skills will ensure greater interest in what the company has to offer.
If ambitious millennials do leave to see if the grass is greener, it’s important to treat that as a new form of talent management, ensuring they depart viewing the company and its leaders in a positive light. They may sometimes hone the “lazy millennial” rap, but in my experience they can offer immense creativity to your brand, you just have to know how to harness it!