Managing Millennials

Basic CMYKAs a Gen Xer I find it amusing that both my generational colleagues and more often Baby Boomers, discuss how to handle the Gen Y crowd like they would a batch of spent nuclear fuel. Perhaps it’s my inner latchkey kid talking, but I just don’t understand all the fuss. Yes, they grew up with technology. Yes, they were given trophies for breathing in and out correctly near a sporting event. And yes, they have a different view of rewards, work/life balance, and just about everything else from social responsibility to professional development. But in the end, they are simply another stakeholder group in our ever-evolving workforce.

Despite their size, buying power and remarkably nimble thumbs, it is possible for the generations to productively co-exist in the workplace. So fear not. To ensure you get the most out of the working relationship follow these simple guidelines.

  1. Don’t Generalize: While there are several traits typically associated with Millennials, don’t be so quick to lump them into a single characteristic pool. The nuance of personal style always trumps the vagaries of the cultural or generational monikers so get to know the people you are actually managing. Use tools like Situational Leadership to gauge what they need as individuals, or better yet, ask them.
  2. Delegate Whole Projects: Don’t waffle. If you intend to delegate something, do so. Don’t feel they are up for the challenge just yet? That’s okay. Switch gears and delegate intact project parts to give a feeling of ownership. Then let them know you are around for support if needed.
  3. Provide Face Time: They, like most, want to see the results of their efforts and be rewarded. Let them play a part in presenting the findings.
  4. Share the Big Picture: Most people like to be involved – to understand and have some control over the work that they perform. Take time to explain how their efforts tie to the boarder strategy or goals. Share your vision and tie their efforts to a greater good. Work has to have meaning.
  5. Let them fly…with a Net: Creativity, collaboration, and enthusiasm are hot commodities. Give them runway to use those tendencies, but establish a trusting relationship so they know they are supported. 

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