Spanning the “Gap” and Managing the Millennials

In our last article, we discovered WHO the Millennials are and why they respond so much differently than their predecessors in regard to the work environment.

Now let’s discuss how we as leaders can adapt and create long term productive staffing from this unique group or workers. In the book Managing the Millennials, the authors identify 9 required managerial competencies to help develop the potential of your Millennial team. Over the next 9 articles, we will review each competency. Competency ONE autonomous. The perceived orientation of the Millennial is that they are autonomous. The millennial intrinsic value is that millennials want a work-life blending. As leaders the competency we need to address this is flexibility.

The Autonomous perception is brought about by Millennials expressing the desire to do what they want when they want, have the schedule they want, and not worry about someone micro-managing them. They do not feel they should have to conform to office processes as long as they complete their work. The ability to demonstrate flexibility gives leaders the ability to modify workplace expectations and behavior. It requires empathetic listening and the willingness to adapt to different ways of doing things.

Remember that Millennials were raised under much different conditions than past generations. While most of us have worked and did not think anything of it. While Millennials DO expect to receive direction, they perceive micro-managing as a lack of trust or confidence. A most likely response from a Millennial would be, “Show us what you expect us to do, then get out of our way.” Once we can accept that Millennials want to feel trusted then we can begin to develop training and set expectations to be achieved, then back away and give our Millennials the chance to earn recognition for accomplishing their goals.

What Millennials Expect from Their Leaders

• Sensitivity to Work-Life Balance (Remember they work to live not live to work)

• Space to do their jobs (Give them training and specific goals and space and freedom to accomplish their goals)

• Taken seriously (They want to be listened to) Take time to hear what they are saying and understand how the way they were raised affects their perception.

• A fun work environment (You will probably find most Millennials to be team oriented so set up some fun competitions that will bring the team to success)

• Rewards (This is a tricky one because most Millennials do not see Rewards the way you and I do. Therefore… you need to find out from them how they define a reward)

• Frequently constructive feedback (Just like their mom and dad used to do) • Career counseling and Development (Remember they were taught differently than prior generations. This is an opportunity to communicate with them on their level and develop an understanding of why certain structures are in place.

• An advocate (Come on Millennials hear the grief all the time about how their perception is different from their predecessors. Show them you are on their team and give them and understanding of how they see things. It does not by any means mean they expect you to do whatever they want, however, understanding and flexibility can go a long way.

What Millennials Expect to Give

• Energy

• Fresh Perspective and Ideas

• Technological Expertise

• Honest Opinions and Feedback

• High Productivity

In summary, developing this new generation is going to require all of us to be flexible and understanding. It will require a lot more interaction than most of us are used to. Feedback will need to be the norm as is the ability to listen to feedback. I am not saying “give them the keys to the office and let them do whatever they please.” Show them from the beginning that you are flexible and willing to listen to new ideas and ways of doing things, and you might be surprised how that will turn into motivation and drive.