Millennials – Five tips to Lead Them More Effectively

By James Burroughes

Feb 13

It’s estimated that by 2025 Millennials will make up as much as 75% of the workforce.

Leaders across organisations have realised that they need to adapt and embrace the changes occurring because of this.
 
Let’s dispel the myths about Millennials. Whilst they are often termed “entitled,” “lazy,” “narcissistic,” and “disloyal job-hoppers”, research from Gallup indicates that millennials are not so different from previous generations of young people.
 
So what is important to millennials in a job and how can you lead and inspire them more effectively?

1. Career Development is their number one priority

The careers of millennials will be more like webs than ladders, so offering diverse and broadening experiences will give them new perspectives and keep them engaged. Aim to offer them experiences across your business, so they can expand their networks based on their interests and contribute to a wider cause.

On-the-job experiences are most the effective (and cost effective) method of development. When there’s real challenge involved, if you think a team member is ready to try something new, let them try their hand. Show them you have confidence in them and are willing to step in to help if they need you to.

The opportunity to shadow you and others around them in action can be as effective as formal training. It also helps team members gain additional skills to step in and help when pressure ramps up.

Change your mindset from one of time-served to equipping them with experiences. The average tenure of millennials in roles is 15-18 months before they look for a new challenge or diversification. A mindset of 3-5 tenure years won’t work. Providing stretch experiences based on their potential can offer business value for you and retain them longer.

2. Help them connect to the purpose of your organisation through their work

Millennials don’t just work for their salary. They want to be a part of an organisation that they feel is making a difference in the world. They value social responsibility and are loyal to organisations that are providing specific solutions to social issues. 

Position work linked to the values and purpose of your organisation. More than 50% of millennials say they would take a pay cut to find work that matches their values, according to a Fast Company article. In this study, by PWC millennials who have a strong connection to the purpose of their organisation are 5.3 times more likely to stay.

3. Be transparent with them

There are still plenty of leaders out there who believe that information is power. Millennials seek information and context. Not communicating with them erodes their trust and makes them more likely to look elsewhere for transparency.

Involve them in discussions about their future in the organisation. If they are able to openly discuss their desired career path and feel you are working to enable this they are more likely to stay.

Be clear on expectations and be prepared to offer help. Share with millennials what outcome you are looking for and ask them how they believe they can achieve that. Then ask what help you can offer and what they need from you to be successful.

4. Be prepared to let them know how they’re doing – regularly

The Millennial generation is defined by heavy debt and uncertainty. Never has a generation entered the workforce with such debt already incurred from university education. This was only to find out that the average house costs nearly 10x the average family salary where they will be, on average, 36 before they can afford their first home.

They also endured the GFC and many will have experienced the stress of parents being made redundant and things being tight at home. This adds to stress levels about performance but also steels them to be more determined to succeed.

Use strengths focused micro-coaching and mentoring (not the same as constructive feedback). According to Gallup workgroups that receive strengths-based development see 14% to 29% increase in profit.

Millennials are constantly “beta testing” behaviours and actions whilst assessing whether they get the positive response they hope for. They grew up in a world of social media likes and comments. They were educated using frequent assessment and provided with regular course corrections. Validate areas where they are on the right track quickly and often, and discuss their ideas for how they might adapt their approach where they aren’t.

5. Embrace technology

Flexible work is no longer a unique selling proposition or a fad in the recruitment process, it is an expectation. If you have a remote team, your management style will need to change from facetime management to performance driven management. Learn to manage without being able to see them in person. 77% of millennials say flexible work hours would make the workplace more productive and enjoyable.

10% of millennials would rather permanently give up a body part than their smartphone according to research by Tappable. Growing up with so much technology has made millennials the pros at mastering new tech quickly. They love to work through issues and improve efficiency with the use of tech.

Leverage their skills to upskill yourself. Millennials love to share what they know. One successful company initiative, involved inviting new graduates to tour the company for a week. It showed workers how to setup and use Instagram, WhatsApp and other apps; quickly upskilling executives and senior leaders who had previously avoided technology through fear and ignorance. It also allowed the millennials to meet staff and form relationships as part of their new network.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this, 
James.


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