The youngest members of the millennial generation are attending college and the oldest are pushing 40. While that’s a large range of people to generalize, there’s no arguing that workers in this generation require a different management strategy than one that might have worked with their parents and grandparents.
Millennial workers accept that they are part of a gig economy, like it or not. They don’t expect to remain with the same company for their entire career, yet they long to feel engaged for however long they remain with an employer. As the manager of a millennial worker, you can meet this essential need by adopting the following principles:
Millennials desire a coaching relationship: It’s unfair to say that millennials have no respect for authority simply because they’re not always comfortable with a boss and subordinate relationship. They just prefer to work a bit differently. You can get the best performance from younger workers by inviting them to be part of a contributing team rather than simply give them orders. This style provides the engagement and empowerment that millennials often crave. When you need to give constructive feedback, do so privately. Make sure that you support their career goals the best you can and ask for their feedback on significant job issues whenever possible.
Allow millennial workers to form meaningful connections: It’s true that you need to focus on work during the day, but that doesn’t mean you can’t encourage employees of all ages to form friendships with one another. Consider that this generation is the first one to be so hyper-connected. They naturally expect this at work as well. Millennial employees often want to meet with management regularly to monitor their own progress as well as offer their feedback on management’s performance. If you’re open to receiving this input, your workers will be happier for it. Let your employees know you care about them as individuals while still expecting hard work.
Encourage millennial workers to pursue growth: Workers in their late teens to their late 30s are generally more committed to personal growth than older people. They see their role at work as an essential aspect of personal growth. It’s common for millennials to balk at traditional paths to promotion as they see them as roadblocks to their growth as an individual. This can seem frustrating when you’re managing someone with this attitude, but you can work with it. Try to offer your millennial workers projects that enable them to learn at a faster rate. People in this age range are more likely to look for a different job if they feel stuck in a rut with little to no growth opportunities.
Remember that everyone wants to matter: All people thrive when they have meaningful work to do, but it’s especially important for those in the millennial generation. This can conflict with your desire for efficiency and profit as a manager. Because they tend to derive more personal meaning from work, one thing you can do to help is learning their values and strengths. This enables you to assign work that appeals to a millennial’s sense of purpose whenever feasible.
Of course, every employee is a unique individual no matter what his or her age. The people you manage may meet all of these characteristics or none of them. However, incorporating these principles is a good starting point for establishing a working relationship that’s satisfying for you and your millennial employees.
Read more articles on Small Business Management