Millennials: the workforce born between 1977-97 that some estimate make up half the workers in the world. And with this diverse group, many of whom were raised in the “me” generation of the 1980’s, comes new challenges for companies looking to train executives and keep their talented sales teams motivated.
Desire for Strong Leadership
I’ve noticed a shift in how managers need to work with this new workforce. If asked publicly, many of this generation will say that they want their independence so their creativity can flourish. But privately, when I work with them, they say what they most desire is strong leadership and training so that they can accelerate their career development.
A Harvard Business Review article “Mentoring Millennials” confirms that trend in executive development and training. The author states that this generation “did want a constant stream of feedback and were in a hurry for success” but that their “expectations were not as outsized as many assume.” I stress in my executive development training programs that today’s young professionals will appreciate time taken to train them and bolster their career, leading to more loyalty and less “job hopping.”
Tips for Managing Millennials
Here are a few tips that will help you manage millennials so that their success, and your team’s, is bolstered:
1) Observe without bias
This says easy, does hard. We all have pre-dispositions with regard to right and wrong and how a person ought to mature in business. The key is to engage in a training process where you observe and understand their background, personal goals and challenges before you shape their behavior. Leave YOUR ego at the door: listen and observe.
2) Learn their ways
Understanding the “why” of their behavior is as important as the “how” to develop it. It is through genuine listening and probing that you a) discover their frame of reference/value system and b) illustrate your concern/empathy via the time you are devoting to understanding them before you direct them. This commitment of time is essential to earn the right to coach them and pinpoint their developmental areas.
3) Know their purpose
As the Harvard Business Review article authors point out about Millennials, “a sense of purpose is a key factor in their job satisfaction.” Therefore you, as their leader, have the responsibility to know their unique sense of purpose and support the attainment of it. And learning this takes times which, if you commit the time to it, your executives and sales teams will appreciate and reward you with motivated performance.
4) Leave mother out of it
As you coach Millennials, remain vigilant and do not sugarcoat the truth about sub-par performance. In other words, don’t mother them. It is essential to witness their inappropriate behavior, play it back to them with specific examples and then genuinely discuss/brainstorm ways to strengthen behaviors that counter these tendencies. This must be done collaboratively. Establish a developmental coalition so that each person understands you know their sense of purpose and are committed to having them achieve it as you shape their behavior.
5) Don’t leave it to chance. Plan!
To operationalize this methodology you need to create a development plan. The challenge here is to present it to them in an unbiased fashion so they feel they can shape the plan with you. Cognitively, they get on board with the plan because they have a hand in creating their plan, yet you have established the plan’s foundation that in turn can be shaped by them and you, relationally.
6) Stay the course
Stay connected to the plan. Veering off of it can damage the coaching relationship you are forging. Create a series of agreed upon check in times. Make it clear that the expectation is that at each check in time there will be forward movement in one’s behavior from the agreed upon plan. These check-in times are an opportunity to measure and acknowledge your employees’ commitments and to what degree they have achieved the desired behavior.
Once you have seen demonstrable improvement in their comportment its time to stretch their behavior and pinpoint their next developmental area. Throughout this process you are further and further establishing consistencies in behavior and with this consistency your stretch-recommendations will be welcomed versus questioned.
What are your biggest challenges managing millennials? Let me know in the comments. – SG