Rather than complain about your millennial employees, why not do something about it? Here’s how to manage millennials — swap the dictatorship for mentorship, and give out more praise and "likes" than ever before.
Much has been said about millennial employees, and the stereotype persists because of the horror stories you hear from your peers, or even encountered yourself.
The stereotype usually goes that some millennial employees tend to feel a sense of entitlement, and lack the perseverance and grit that are necessary for any job to be done well.
While this might be the case for a handful of fresh grads, complaining about managing millennials won’t make them any better. After all, we were all impressionable young workers once, and admit it — there were times in our working career that we felt unmotivated ourselves. Being out in the real world isn’t easy for fresh grads, no matter what generation.
The first step to managing millennial employees is taking them under your wing. Yep, that’s a great undertaking, but it’s what they need to be transformed from fresh grads into productive, high-performing employees.
So, ready to get started?
Tip #1: Begin with a clean slate.
Assuming the worst in your new fresh grad hire isn’t the best way to kick off a working relationship. In fact, it might bring out a self-fulfilling prophecy, since you’ll be particularly focused on the negative biases you have rather than the positive side of things. Start things on the right foot by giving them the benefit of the doubt. Remind yourself that fresh grads still lack the skills for the job-but if they are willing to learn, their skillset will grow.
Tip #2: Collaborate with them.
Considering that your millennial employee understands the duties and responsibilities of his or her new job, know that most millennials are into collaboration rather than independent work. Most fresh grads are used to working in teams because of college days, so naturally they’d prefer the same setup at work. While some managers might find this to be “hand-holding” of sorts, treat this as a training ground for them instead. Take this as a way to coach or mentor them to instill the right tools they will need to accomplish their work well.
Tip #3: Harness their “team player” skills.
Perhaps it’s due to the hyperconnected environment that millennials grew up in that they are more inclined to work in a team rather than to accomplish their work on their own. Rather than taking this as a point against them, make it work for your team as a whole. Assign group tasks once in a while alongside their individual responsibilities, and check in on them on which tasks they enjoyed doing the most — it will most likely be the tasks that were done as a group.
Tip #4: Bring out the points of improvement with the praise.
Another point about millennials is that they crave praise more than any other generation. It could be a mix of their parents raising them to think they’re “snowflakes,” or because they grew up getting “likes” and “comments” from social networking sites.
But either way, being recognized for a job well done will do wonders for not just millennial employees, but for employees of all ages, “with productivity, performance, and employee management on average, 14% higher in teams where employees feel regularly recognized for their work,” say Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton, authors of The Best Team Wins: The New Science of High Performance. It especially wouldn’t hurt if you tempered the points of improvement with some praises. It will make all your employees feel seen and valued — and will set them up to do better next time.
Tip #5: Encourage them to find their “why” at work.
Millennial employees are used to and not afraid of change, which is perhaps why a salary or job security isn’t as big of a priority to them as purpose and passion.
Defining their “why” at work will give meaning to the work that they do, no matter how mundane. Finding purpose in each task, and how that task fits into the grander scheme of things, will activate the “team player” mode in them. And of course, remember to give them a pat on the back for a job well done — it takes seconds to do (and can even be done via email and still be as effective!), but the effects will be priceless.
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