Millennials get a bad rap. While some criticisms are warranted, some are plainly unfair. As tempting as it is to think of millennials as exotic unicorns who are disrupting the workplace with their ideas and their way of working, not only is that kind of thinking wrong because it’s based on a broad generalization, it also affects a manager’s ability to manage people.
Like every other generation before them, millennials are simply adapting the workplace to suit them. The baby boomers did it, the gen xers did it, the millennials are doing it and the next generation will probably do so as well. It’s only a natural progression of events.
And like with every other generation, millennials respond to different types of motivation and engagement. What worked for the generation before might not work for them.
If you find that there are a number of millennials on your team, and you seem to be at a loss when it comes to managing millennials, then this article should help you.
Provide Them with the Big Picture
One way to motivate millennials is to provide them with the big picture. Millennials want to know what role they are playing in an organization and how their involvement makes a difference. You don’t have to lay bare your organization’s secrets. But it certainly helps to let them know what the organization’s current roadmap looks like and what are the organizations immediate goals.
Work-Life Balance Is Important
Millennials believe in a good work-life balance. At least most of the millennials I know do so. Plenty of millennials are willing to work hard during the week but would like to pursue their own interests during the weekend. Most employees are sensible and do understand that there are times where work bleeds into their personal time. But managers should also understand that asking millennials or anyone else for that matter to put in absurdly long working hours will only lead to a lack of motivation and unhappiness.
Don’t Cut Off Access to Technology
Limited or no access to technology can definitely put off millennials from a job. It is important to remember that currently, we live in an age where technology plays a big part in our lives. And this phenomenon is not just limited to millennials. All of us depend on our phones, social media and enjoy being connected on a virtual level. Unless the job really requires it, there is no need to limit access to technology. And you find that employees spend more time on social networks as opposed to work, the answer to that problem lies in investigating the cause of disengagement, not limiting access to technology.
Build Workplace Culture
Workplace culture has come a long way. Once upon a time, offices used to be fairly standard and doing anything out of the norm was frowned upon. But now, the current trend is to build a workplace that people enjoy being in. You don’t have to be like the big guns and offer perks that you cannot afford. But neither should you make an office seem like a silent graveyard. Millennials thrive on communicating with others, taking part in group activities etc. Ensure that there are a decent mix of team activities and fun initiatives that people can be a part of.
Respect Their Way of Working
It’s important to understand that everybody has their own way of working. Unless yours is a terribly formal office or has a lot of visitors, give employees the space to breathe and work in a way that makes them seem comfortable. Just because someone is slouching down in their seat and typing away, they are not any less interested in their work. And just because someone wears headphones and shakes their head to a beat, it does not mean that they are unfocused. Judge an employee based on the quality of their work, not the way they do it.
Feedback and Recognition Are Important
Millennials thrive on feedback and recognition. They like to know how they are progressing and how they can improve. Similarly, millennials appreciate recognition, so much so that a lack of recognition or feedback at their current places will lead them to find other places.
Be a Mentor, Not a Boss
With millennials, it is important to recognize that they don’t respond very well to authoritarianism. Some of them might deal with it, but the majority of them don’t. Instead of being a boss or an authoritative manager, be a mentor. You don’t have to be their best friend (and you really shouldn’t either) but you can be someone who can guide them, teach them and show them the way.