Leading and Managing Millennials

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Millennials, the nearly 80 million young adults born between 1980 and 2000, will comprise nearly half of the U.S. workforce by 2020.

Exposure to constantly updated technology, unlimited access to information, instantaneous connection to peers, and hands-on parenting approaches are all chief influences that shape and define the generation as a whole.

To effectively manage millennials, you must take into account the factors that set their generation apart from previous ones, while also working to understand the things that motivate and inspire each unique individual.

5 Things to Keep in Mind When Managing Millennials:

Focus on Mentoring and Coaching

Every salesperson you have will benefit from regular, well-executed coaching, but Millennials in particular will appreciate a guiding presence in the workplace.

Belonging to a generation of hands-on parenting and close connection with peers gives this group the expectation for mentorship, and providing that opportunity will satisfy their need for advisement while developing their skills and job effectiveness.

Approach mentoring and coaching with the individual’s unique motivators and behaviors in mind. Identify their strengths, and work to improve their developmental areas. This time you set aside for guidance can be used as the framework for making an individual connection with them.

Provide Continuous Feedback

No other generation in history has had the immediate and far-reaching access to the opinion of others as Millennials have today. Social media has conditioned the new-era employee to solicit and expect feedback, as well as to value the concept of open communication.

Provide these salespeople with continuous feedback and transparency if you want your interactions to be meaningful. Communicate with them in an open fashion to which they are accustomed in order to make your message that much more influential.

Provide Flexibility Inside of Structure

A flexible work environment is appealing cross-generationally, but for Millennials, the ability to operate in a comfortable, adaptable setting is more necessity than benefit.

It is important to offer opportunities for collaboration, as well as being open-minded to input they might have on projects. Flexibility must occur within the confines of a structured framework in order to be successful, however.

While they value freedom, Millennials also crave direction, so providing boundaries and parameters is crucial.

Communicate Purpose Behind the Job

Possibly the most acute difference that exists between Millennials and their preceding generation is the importance they place on meaningful work. They typically place less value on high levels of pay because what this emerging workforce is really after is a career that allows them to engage in work they find genuinely meaningful.

In a study by Levit and Licina, when asked how important meaningful work was, 12 percent of managers said it was important versus 30 percent of Millennials. Since this group looks for work that can be rewarding and enjoyable, it is crucial that you communicate their role in the company and the value that they bring.

Acknowledge and encourage individual contributions so that they feel a real purpose behind the job they are doing.

Demonstrate an Appreciation of Diversity

Each year we are experiencing an increasingly diverse workplace that goes beyond racial implications. Diversity itself is becoming more diverse, and it is no longer relevant to identify individuals in terms of race, culture, gender, education, generation, etc.

Connecting with workers on an individual level has become more important now than ever before. A good leader will recognize that no two employees are the same and appreciate the value that comes in the full spectrum of diversity that exists in today’s workplace. It’s about adapting to the individual, harnessing their unique strengths, and bringing together a group of varying personalities into a cohesive, productive team.

Multiple generations always have, and always will have to coexist in the workplace—and there will always be differences between them. Long before people complained about hip-hop, they complained about Elvis, and that hesitancy to embrace change can create a negative tone to the conversation around managing Millennials.

A good leader will recognize the strengths that the new-era employee brings to the table, and harness their talents in the most effective ways possible.

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Published on July 13, 2015

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