Managing Millennials: Not For the Faint of Heart
The group of people called millennials, generally defined as those born between the early 1980s and the early 2000s, now represent the largest generation in our nation’s economy. They are the children of baby boomers, but more importantly, they are the children of the internet. Late-stage millennials, just now making their way into the workforce, are products not of the early iterations of the world-wide-web, but of social media platforms that have revolutionized society. Their app-driven approach to life is forcing employers to adjust their hiring techniques to interact more effectively with a generation of workers that is still being misunderstood, and in many ways, mismanaged.
To effectively recruit, hire, and manage millennials, organizations should first establish communication lines that they identify with. There is absolutely no point in communicating with a millennial in a manner that cannot be delivered through a mobile device. Develop the ability for your company to connect with millennial recruits or employees via social media, text marketing, or app-based integration. Understanding the role technology plays in millennial employees’ lives is crucial to managing them effectively.
Once communication systems are in place, employers should make decisions about balancing the needs and wants of millennials with respect to other groups in the organization. Millennials have entered the workforce with unique expectations that many companies do not anticipate or prepare for. For instance, millennials tend to be the most competitive generation, preferring to square off against coworkers rather than working collaboratively. Also, they are often less concerned with compensation than they are with the ability to grow and develop in their own role and to secure opportunities for advancement. They expect these advancement opportunities in much shorter timeframes than older generations are accustomed to, and will happily and eagerly take advantage of opportunities with another company if they are not satisfied with those presented by their current employer.
So how do managers of millennials utilize the largest portion of the workforce without falling into the pitfalls presented by mismanagement of this unique group of people? They do so by exhibiting bold, inspiring leadership that includes making strategically firm decisions and setting clear expectations for all employees. Employers should accommodate some needs of millennials, while molding them to the organization’s structure. Managers should give millennials a flexible work schedule in terms of hours and location, but also be direct with work product expectations and the time in which they expect a task to be completed. Goals, deadlines, benchmarks, and metrics should be used to reward millennials when they succeed and to firmly correct them when they come up short.
Clearly, no organization can exist and grow in today’s economy without relying upon the ever-increasing importance of the millennial generation. Harnessing the power of their skills and ingenuity while maintaining a healthy balance of goals and structure in the workplace can be the difference between success and failure for many companies in the 21st Century.
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