Your business almost certainly has seen an influx of new millennial workers, and some managers have driven themselves crazy trying to figure out how to handle this generation. Some guides on how to handle millennials pooh-pooh this generation as arrogant, flighty people who cannot take criticism, look for any excuse to get out of work, and waste all their time on their phones or electronic devices.
There are certainly some millennials like that, but the New York Times points out that Generation Xers (individuals between the ages of 35 to 49) actually spend more time on social media than do millennials.
That millennials are not that social media obsessed relative to their peers is an indication of how millennials are not that different from everyone else. While there are certain aspects which employees should emphasize while managing millennials, these aspects are generally things which a manager should do with any employee.
Here are some strategies that can work better with millennials, but try not to think of millennials as a new generation with completely different values. Think of how these strategies can be used for everyone, and remember that your employees are individuals.
Older generations may complain that millennials will not just do a task on being ordered to, but will argue about why they should do said task. But while a manger can feel like they are being disrespected, often millennials just wish to learn. Given the years that they have spent in the classroom, they are still used to being educated.
Instead of being offended by “why,” use it as an opportunity to instruct millennials on how things work. Sure, some millennials will use “why” to try and be a know-it-all, but that is true of any generation. However, by showing that you want to help them learn, you show millennials that they are a valued part of your business.
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A classroom is a structured environment where one enters largely knowing what he or she will be learning that day. Millennials may no longer be in that environment, but they still want that structure to some extent. The order of the classroom and an orderly workplace can be a refuge from the confusing and chaotic world in which we live today.
This means that your business needs to publicize your hierarchical structure to make clear who is in charge of what. But this does not mean trying to define yourself as some all-wise leader above the lowly millennial workers. Given the well-documented millennial obsession with feedback, a manager must be easily accessible and willing to show workers how they can do better. The annual performance review should be discarded in favor of more regular, informal meetings where managers can both hear and understand employee complaints and talk about how they can improve. This give-and-take relationship promotes a stronger corporate culture.
If there is any particular thing about millennials that can drive a manager bonkers, it is how millennials seem to constantly have one foot out the door looking for their next job.