You’ve probably heard people talk about Millennials. They are sometimes referred to as the “next great generation.”
And, today we are going to look at how to be a leader for Millennials in the office. But, first we thought we’d better firmly define this group so we can figure out how to lead them.
For several years, the definition of this population group has morphed a few times.
In 2014, the Pew Research Center defined adult Millennials has those who were 18-33 years old and born between 1981-1996. They also went on to say that the youngest Millennials are still in their teens and that no end point has yet been set for them.
They grew up with parents who gave them structure as well as constant encouragement. Building high self-esteem was the buzzword in many families.
This group is also the first true digital generation. They have no idea what life was like without the Internet and smartphones.
In order to learn how to be a leader for Millennials in the office, it helps to learn about their general character traits. Let’s look at a few:
- Passion: Millennials believe happiness is found by pursuing their passion and searching for meaning.
- Risk-takers: They aren’t interested in stability but what they find at the end of risk-taking.
- Work-life alignment: They don’t believe corporate America cares about them. It’s important to Millennials that they align their life passion with their career interests.
- Mission-oriented: Millennials pursue objectives and then move on to the next one.
- Mobile: They don’t necessarily want to stick with one job for 10 years. If they’ve met their goals or find a new passion, they will leave to chase it.
- Spontaneous: Millennials don’t want to miss out. The experience wins over the consequence.
- World travelers: They want to push the bounds and explore.
Now that we’ve defined the Millennial generation, let’s look at how to be a leader for Millennials in the office.
Change Manage to Lead
You might think that managing Millennials means throwing all previous knowledge of employee management out the door. This isn’t necessarily so.
You just have to be creative and switch the management aspect to a leadership role.
Since Millennials were managed with play dates, after-school activities and much more from an early age in order that they build character and self-esteem, you might find they rebel from the traditional form of management.
Millennials want to make their own decisions and mark their own path. This is where your leadership comes in.
They don’t want to be micromanaged. They won’t respond well to an outright hierarchy. They want a say in how, where and when they work.
Millennials want leaders who care about their growth, development and well-being. They don’t want to be controlled. In fact, many Millennials will consider the leadership of a prospective job when making their employment decisions.
They want leaders who:
- Respect them. They want their voices to be heard.
- Give them positive feedback. They want their hard work noticed and rewarded, especially if it’s a job well done.
- Encourage them and help them get back up after a failure.
- Talk to them in person. Yes, they are always on their phones, but like other human beings, they like personal interaction.
- Support team work.
- Provide structure. This is a bit complicated because they don’t want to be micromanaged. Give them structure such as deadlines, but then back off and let them do the work.
Millennials want what they want when they want it. They want to create their own schedules, and they don’t want to conform to the regular office schedule as long as they get their work done.
Bottom-line: Millennials want leaders who care about them. Don’t try to manage them, but learn to lead them.
It might seem that Millennials are individualistic, but generally they like working in teams. They want to maintain their own unique part, but they appreciate being part of a larger group doing something that matters to them.
Be flexible with those who want to pair up or work in teams. But, let those who prefer to work independently do that, too.
Work and Personal Mix
Millennials want to feel like they’re making a difference, and they often find themselves being “personal” at work. Don’t confuse this with them taking work home.
Provide them with a mix of socialization at work along with more free time, flexible vacations and flex pay for shorter hours. They can then find the perfect balance for themselves. But, don’t count on them to devote their personal time to work.
Do your best not to constrain the Millennials. They have a different idea than past generations on what work is, where it should be done and for how long. They crave balance.
They see their productivity differently. They don’t measure it by hours worked; they measure by what they do. Consider these options:
- Let them work from home for part of the time. You can set the days you want them in the office and be flexible with the rest as long as the work is getting done.
- Let them set their own hours. Instead of 8-5, let them choose 10-7.
- Let them choose their digital options. Does everyone really have to have the same apps, phone or computer?
- Create a comfortable culture in the workplace.
Keeping Millennials Longer
You’ve probably heard that Millennials are job-hoppers. So, how can you keep them around for the long haul?
You can balance their workload, help them form an emotional connection with your company, give them development opportunities and be transparent. In addition, offer them not only traditional benefits, but extra ones as well such as flexibility, gym memberships and open-ended vacation time.
Positive thinkers, they want their work to matter, so give them the chance to thrive.
Remember to lead, not manage. Do your best to foster and care about them as individuals while fostering a team atmosphere.
Give them a sense of purpose in the workplace and always be genuine with them.
Lastly, we’ve discussed how to be a leader for Millennials in the office, but please remember that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution, and everyone is different.
Personalities are as unique as people’s individual experiences. Keep this in mind as you learn how to be a leader for Millennials in the office.
Are you a leader of Millennials in the office? How have you made it work? Do you have other suggestions? We’d love to hear them.