The millennial generation has become a media phenomenon that is difficult to escape from. In an era of multigenerational workforces, it’s paramount that today’s leaders consider tactics that will empower and embrace the unique needs of this age bracket.
So, who are the Millennials? Broadly speaking, if you were born in the 1980’s or 1990’s- you fit into this category. While it is important not to over- generalise, millennials as a generation do possess certain traits and behaviours that differ significantly from previous generations such as, they are tech savvy, highly educated, extremely efficient, hardworking and adapt well to change. They also value authenticity and meaningful work, they want to make an impact in what they do. There is also a negative stereotype that surrounds this generation such as, they’re lazy (the ‘armchair activist’!) have a sense of entitlement, can be narcissistic, have a distrust of bureaucracy but most commonly, that they are extremely difficult to manage in the workplace.
Given that there are an estimated 82 million millennials in the workforce today, developing this generation is something that requires investment and a considerable shift in mind set to empower them in their roles. Business leaders play an important role in the process of adapting and supporting this dynamic group and have an opportunity to flex their own style driving growth and development for their staff. Recently, I spoke at an event whereby I shared my tips for managing millennials in the workplace, using the acronym ENGAGE as follows:
E is for Empathy
In order to support this generation, we need to get to understand what drives them. This starts with empathy. Simon Sinek talks about the importance of understanding the environment they grew up in relative to two key points; technology and parenting. While technology has transformed the way we work, it has also transformed the way we connect with each other and our ability to form meaningful relationships and cope with stress has been negatively impacted. Technology has fostered an environment for immediacy reducing our patience and ‘will’ to persevere.
Relative to parenting, the majority of this generation has been in receipt of empowering messages such as ‘you can be whatever you want’ which has contributed to a sense of entitlement that does not transfer to the workplace. In fact, employers report that while this generation will see the ‘summit’, they don’t see the ‘mountain’ and invariably, the millennials ability to innovate and persevere greatly decreases. They can disengage and in some cases, hand in their notice.
N is for New Leaders
According to forbes.com, by 2025, the millennial generation will occupy 75% of the overall workforce. As such, one of the primary responsibilities of today’s leaders is to create a leadership pipeline. While this generation are highly educated, they lack in the areas of soft skill development. Supporting them in the ‘Human Skills’ such as Personal Impact, Influencing, Communication, Situational Leadership and Managing Stress is critical in the development of a leadership skillset. Bespoke leadership programs add immense value in this space.
G is for Grow Relationship
‘Be a mentor, not a boss’. There is an opportunity for business leaders to evaluate their own role in building relationships with their teams and ask questions of themselves such as, how am I currently communicating? What works well? What’s not working? How can I flex my own style?
Aim to foster engagement with inverse mentoring tactics. This can lead to a more reciprocal relationship and openness when heading advice and guidance from senior team members.
A is for Action
We know that this generation are hardworking and favour results. Leverage from this, provide structure and/or process around achieving short- term goals. Offer them flexibility (where possible) in the manner in which to complete tasks. It is important however, to be mindful of the fact that this generation are characterised by impatience so, they will need support in having patience and perseverance in dealing with any obstacles.
G is for Give Feedback
Research suggests that the annual review model does not empower the millennial generation and that a more dynamic feedback model is favoured. There are some high impact feedback models in existence that we, in Change Grow Succeed support businesses in implementing. The coaching model is also high impact. Not only does coaching inspire action and focuses on results but it is a highly individualised form of learning. Supporting leaders in their coaching skills can often yield high results and allow for richer communication within teams.
In addition, share how their role fits into the overall strategic plan or process, knowing how and where they fit in relative to their role is important to them (indeed, to us all!)
E is for embrace
And enjoy! The arrival of this generation is an opportunity to learn about ourselves and also the world in which we live. So, do take ownership of your role in this process and aim to do one small thing differently to effect positive change within your team and your own leadership style. This generation are here to stay- let’s make the most of it!
Gillian McGrath is a Cork based Life and Business Coach and Master Trainer. She regularly coaches and supports businesses with intergenerational workforces. For more information, contact her directly on Gillian@changegrowsucceed.com