Millennials are now America’s biggest generation — isn’t it time we started paying more attention to the way we manage them? According to information collected by the US Census Bureau, millennials, who are categorized as being born between 1982 and 2000, now exceed 83 million, outnumbering baby boomers by more than 13 million.
We spoke to career and workplace expert, experienced hiring manager, published author and founder and president of Come Recommended, Heather Huhman, about her top tips for successfully managing millennials.
First things first, when it comes to millennials, forget your preconceived ideas about them being lazy, entitled and difficult to work with. In fact, Ms. Huhman says millennials are not so much different to any other generation in the workplace. Despite that, millennials are not without their own special quirks, which managers would do well to be aware of.
“Millennials want their work to mean something, to believe in the values of their employer, and to feel respected by leaders,” Ms. Huhman says. “When treated right, you can expect hardworking and innovative team players. But when mismanaged, expect disengaged employees who won’t hesitate to leave for better opportunities.”
To engage millennials, Ms. Huhman recommends inspiring them with your company’s mission and values. Among millennials who said they will stay with their employer for more than five years, 88 percent said they feel a sense of purpose. Furthermore, Ms. Huhman says it is essential to show millennials the results of their hard work and to let them know that it is meaningful and that they are valued.
When it comes to motivating your millennials, Ms. Huhman says the key thing to remember is that millennials are hungry for new opportunities. This means that they want to learn new skills and become better professionals. Ms. Huhman recommends professional development programs, which she says have a highly motivating impact. “Empower millennials with the skills needed to move up in their career,” she said. “When you invest in their development, they will be motivated to invest back in the company, delivering their best work.” Currently, 71 percent of millennials say they are unhappy with how their leadership skills are being developed and 63 percent say their leadership skills are not being fully developed.
What to Avoid
Managing millennials requires a unique approach. You can forget about employing the old “earn your dues” mentality — this will only backfire when it comes to millennials. Ms. Huhman says it is important to value your employee’s input, no matter how old they are or how long they have worked for you. “Listen to their ideas and feedback, reward excellent performance at every level, and award opportunities to those who deserve them, not those with the most seniority.”
What You Can Learn From Millennials
Millennials are a mobile generation. According to a Gallup survey, millennials access the internet from their phones more than any other generation. Ms. Huhman suggests managers can learn a lot from their millennial employees’ mobile habits. “Use mobile apps and tools to enable working on the go, speed up paperwork and other HR functions, and keep the team connected,” Ms. Huhman says. “Streamline the office and make flexible work easier — your millennial employees will love you for it.”
With an overwhelming number of millennials now making up the workforce, it is essential for managers to approach their professional development in the right way. Your management approach can either motivate, or send your millennial team running for the hills. Remembering that millennials desire a sense of purpose in their work and letting go of the “pay your dues” mentality will set you on the right path to effectively managing the millennials in your team.