As our world and culture changes with the addition of technological advancements, new concepts in social interaction and acceptable cultural norms, there's a large gap that has been formed between the Baby Boomer generation, typically consisting of the 20 years following WWII, and the Millennial generation, typically counted as the 20 years from 1985 to 2004. As we're hitting the point where Baby Boomers are in management positions hiring relatively new-to-employment Millennials, this gap is becoming more and more apparent, with the gaps in technological knowledge, workplace values and approach to projects often leading to tension and strife between these two groups. Here are some things you should know if you're managing Millennials in the work place.
- They'd rather have a mentoring relationship than be given a career guide, so don't be disrespectful if they want to discuss a decision with their parents. This generation has been raised to believe that they have a lot to offer and don't expect to stay at the same job their entire lives, so respect is the best way to hang onto their loyalty.
- Offer flexibility. Millennials believe that there's more to life than work, so be flexible in some areas. Don't enforce rules just for the sake of rules, plan on explaining that loose clothing is dangerous on the production line. They were raised by work-committed parents, so they want flexibility in their schedule or permission to work from home occasionally.
- Let them contribute. They want to be part of something bigger than themselves. To get the high performance expected of this generation, let them be part of the solution. Because of their unique insights and technological experience, they're great at coming up with a workable solution that involves serious outside-of-the-box thinking.
- Communicate expectations. Because Millennials are often slowing down the transition to adulthood, they expect flexibility as the norm. You're going to need to clearly communicate your expectations and the minimum standard so they know you're talking about a minimum, not the average.
- Ask for their input. This goes along with letting them contribute and showing respect, because going to them for input shows your respect for them and lets them help solve the problem.
- Value their contributions. Did one of them spend an extra couple hours a day for the past two weeks helping keep things up for a large order? Mention it. This shows them that they're not just giving up their free time or getting overtime, they're being valued for their contribution to the company.
- Expect them to communicate differently. Though you may need a cheat sheet to track all the acronyms, these terms are common because Millennials grew up texting, Tweeting and posting about anything they've done. They may choose to communicate electronically topics you would usually think important enough to warrant a face-to-face discussion.
- They view adulthood differently. They're part of a generation that's seen rampant unemployment, high college costs and their parents raising them while caring for aging parents at the same time. For this reason, they don't see a stigma in staying at home, getting advice from their parents on managing their career and similar concerns.
By taking the time to consider the differences between these two generations and make allowances for each generation to act to their best potential, you'll be able to take advantage of the high performance that can be expected from this group. Take the time to reach out, be flexible and offer respect for their opinions, contributions and ideas and you'll have a great relationship with employees that have a lot to offer.