Managing Millennials: A Crash Course

If you are struggling to make the most out of your relationships with Millennial employees, here is a quick guide to turning those born between 1980 and 1992 into some of your biggest fans and assets.

Communicating: Veterans like face-to-face meetings, boomers like phone calls, Generation X prefers email, and Millennials do most of their communicating via cell phone, text messages, and social media. Millenials’ interpersonal skills and presentation skills often need work. But be open to letting them develop relationships through the channels they’re most comfortable with. Their informality can often lead to more frequent contact and faster relationship building.

Recruiting: When you set out to hire younger workers, consider your employer brand. What does your company stand for? What are your values? Young people want to work with those they like and companies they believe in. Also understand that what they learn about your company online—from LinkedIn, your website, or customer reviews on Yelp—will shape their opinions and interests.

Inspiring: Don’t assume that the job itself, let alone a paycheck, is enough to keep Millenials working at their full potential. You have to motivate and inspire them. Showing concern for their happiness and well-being will go a long way.

Training: Turnover rates are higher among younger workers, so consider breaking up training into segments delivered over time. Link training with increased responsibilities and compensation or benefits so that you both see ROI. Also integrate as much experiential learning as possible, such as going to meetings or conferences together and talking about what works and what needs to be worked on.

Rewarding: Money is important to Millennials, but it is not what drives them. Before you start writing checks, find out what motivates them. Maybe it’s a 401(k), a gym membership, flex time, or the opportunity for travel and advancement.

Mentoring: This generation has been coached more than any other. They require attention and frequent communications. Focus instructions on what you need done and suggest how, but give them the freedom to try new ways. Review and judge the results more than the methods.

Parenting: Millennials are extremely close with their parents. It is a fuzzy line these days as to what is the appropriate level of parental involvement in interviews, discipline, contract negotiations, etc. It’s up to you to set boundaries, but making helicopter parents your allies can pay off as well.

Retaining: Don’t expect Millennials to be lifers. They typically change jobs every one to three years. But there are exceptions. Show them possible career paths, milestones to different levels in your company, and how staying with you will build their careers. Give them big goals to achieve, then big rewards if they deliver.

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