How to Manage in the Age of The Millennial [Reverse Mentoring]

Trying to pin down and accurately describe an entire generation of workers using common stereotypes and generalized studies can be tricky (and inaccurate), but as far as millennials are concerned, the situation is pretty straightforward.

Until recently, millennial workers had been deemed lazy, stubborn, and entitled. However, more and more CEOs and managers are speaking up about the unrivaled value that this wild-card generation adds to their workforce.

Authority figures in all shapes and sizes of business are finding that the millennial generation brings a great deal of advancement, innovation, and adaptability to the workplace. If managed effectively, your millennial workers can easily become your company’s greatest asset.

In this article, you’ll learn five powerful tips you can employ right now to alter your leadership style and manage your millennial staff more effectively.

1. Empower Them

Millennial workers shocked the workforce with their ability to thrive in shaky, unstable startup companies.

What is the driving force behind this unconventional success?

There are several, but the most important factor is the empowerment and satisfaction that comes with nursing a startup into a mature and balanced business.

Your company may not be a startup, but you can still empower your employees and give them opportunities to feel true satisfaction on the job. Delegate managerial tasks to them, appoint them to lead projects, and let them assemble their own project teams.

Don’t shy away from giving your younger workers added responsibility and authority. You might be surprised by how well they handle the challenge. This tactic can be especially helpful for improving the work ethic of a disengaged or apathetic employee.

2. Emphasize Purpose

When you begin managing millennials, you’ll learn very quickly that this generation requires details to complete a task or project.

  • “Why are we doing this?”
  • “How will this help?”
  • “Why are you assigning this task to me?”

Back in the day, baby-boomer authority figures would have been appalled by the number of questions this generation brings to the conference table. Millennials would be labeled as difficult—and perhaps even insubordinate.

Don’t make that mistake.

Millennials don’t ask questions to make your job difficult or because they doubt your leadership. They ask why because it’s the why that fuels them.

Gone are the days of keeping your head down and blindly following orders. This inquisitive workforce wants the purpose behind the task and they want that purpose to be meaningful. If you’re shelling out busy work for the sake of running down the clock, they’re going to know, and they’re not going to like it.

Emphasize the purpose behind each task and project, and be willing to elaborate when questions arise. Use this as an opportunity to deliver feelings of empowerment as you explain the importance of the assignment you’re asking them to complete.

3. Offer Abundant Feedback

Point the finger at coddling parents all you want, but that won’t change the fact that millennials need feedback (or more bluntly, validation) as much as you need water. Multiple studies and articles have been published that explore the reasons behind why millennials need so much feedback, but the fact remains that this generation desires and expects a lot of feedback in the workplace.

We’re not just talking about giving feedback upon project completion, either. If you notice that your younger employees present unwarranted or unwanted updates throughout the duration of a big project, it’s because they’re seeking feedback. Take a moment to assure them that they’re moving in the right direction or to redirect them if they’re heading off course.

And if you get the chance to praise and give credit to your employees for a job well done, take the opportunity! A little public recognition can go a long way for all of your employees, millennials and Gen-Xers alike. That said, it’s important to know your people well enough that you understand how and where they prefer to receive praise. The last thing you want to do is provide public recognition to someone who prefers credit to be given in private.

4. Be Flexible

Being able to adapt and stay flexible is a hallmark of a good manager, especially when that manager leads a team that is largely comprised of younger workers. Don’t be afraid to take unconventional ideas from your younger employees, tackle a routine project from a new angle, or mix up the typical workday to refresh your workers and keep them on their toes.

You might even consider updating your office space.

With so many startups being led by or designed for millennials, the standard workplace has seen a sudden rise in flexible scheduling, unique work spaces geared toward creative thinking, and new ways of working.

Why?

The answer is simple: instead of seeking relief from their work lives in their free time, millennials prefer to thoroughly enjoy their jobs. They value an enjoyable day at work over a paycheck, which brings to light an important fact: millennials are much less motivated by money than were previous generations. If your business is stuck in the 9–5 cubicle trend, you may want to think about evolving into a more flexible, millennial-friendly work environment.

5. Play to Their Strengths

One of the top reasons millennials consider leaving their jobs is to pursue work that aligns better with their passions.

This generation is restless, anxious, and ready to be rewarded for their skills and talents. Baby boomers may have been content with working solely for a paycheck, but millennials want more than that. They want to find satisfaction in their work, enjoy what they do, and receive recognition for doing it well.

Take time to get to know your employees and discover their true talents and strengths. Discuss their dreams, five-year plans, and ideal careers. Once you know who they are and how they can benefit your company the most, play to their strengths for a mutually beneficial professional relationship.

Managing Millennials: Reverse Mentoring

The millennial workforce at your company can be of great value to the growth and success of your brand. If you can learn how to manage this young generation successfully, you’ll find yourself surrounded by ambitious, eager, self-driven workers who are loyal to you and your company.

For more leadership tips and expert coaching for improving your management skills, contact CMOE today.

About the Author

CMOE

CMOE’s Design Team is comprised of individuals with diverse and complementary strengths, talents, education, and experience who have come together to bring a unique service to CMOE’s clients. Our team has a rich depth of knowledge, holding advanced degrees in areas such as business management, psychology, communication, human resource management, organizational development, and sociology.

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