Millennials are the generation born between 1982 and 2002 (depending who you ask). Also called Gen Y, they are commonly labelled as overly ambitious, entitled, and somewhat needy. This in part has been attributed to being raised by Gen X, a generation that strives to provide everything they could for their children. And yet, I love hiring millennials. Despite the sometimes negative reputation they get in the business world, they really are an important asset and too often go undervalued. I have, however, learned some valuable lessons over the years from having millennials as part of the team – most valuable of which: how not to manage them.
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Here are the four mistakes to avoid when managing millennials, and how to fix them.
1. Trying to be “hip with the kids”
I listed this mistake first for a reason. One of the worst things you can do when managing a millennial is to try and act like them – you’ll only embarrass yourself and lose their respect. You must accept that there are significant differences between you and your millennial employee (including the fact that you were a real human in 1981). Attempting to adapt to their strange new ways will feel unnatural and it’s best to stick with what you know.
At the same time, don’t let them make you feel old because that is not something to be ashamed about. With age comes experience, an invaluable asset in any business. Simply continue to work hard and demonstrate your expertise, and the younger generation will respect you and seek out your opinions.
2. Not setting deadlines
Millennials, as flexible and carefree as they may seem, do still need structure and regular hours in the workplace. Remember, this is the generation that was raised on organized soccer games, play-dates and other endlessly structured plans designed by their eager parents. Without some structure, millennials can become distracted or have trouble prioritizing what needs to be done. Set hard deadlines and leave it to them to figure out how it ought to be met. If they need help prioritizing, show them the ropes. It might take some time, but they will give back to your company in spades.
3. Not communicating enough
If you’ve ever worked with millennials, it’s no secret that they need frequent communication and feedback. This can be partly attributed to growing up in the Internet Age, where they’ve become accustomed to getting what they want instantly. This need for instant gratification sometimes translates into a need for constant feedback on how they are preforming in the workplace. This doesn’t necessarily mean they want constant praise, but they like to know how they are doing so they don’t have any surprises during evaluations. Communication is a great thing – learn to be honest with your millennial employees.
Setting deadlines and giving timely feedback is one thing, however, there’s nothing a millennial despises more than a micromanaging boss. Despite their entitled reputation, millennials are quite hardworking and can be left to their own devices to get the work done. They will multi-task in a way that you never knew was possible, with their phones out and headphones in, but never underestimate their abilities.
Managing Millennials: Conclusion
Managing millennials is not a simple task, but when you instill confidence in your millennials, it will be rewarded. Give them the chance to prove the stereotypes wrong and you won’t be disappointed.