Guest Post by Ryan Currie
Working with millennials can be a challenge but you’re just making things harder on yourself by missing valuable opportunities in your interactions. Millennials aren’t as selfish, as tuned-out, or as idealistic as they’re pegged to be and they actually provide a lot of valuable tools you can use to grow your business.
Whether you’re the boss, a manager, or even just a colleague, here are seven ways you’re missing opportunities with your millennials.
1. You’re being too polite.
The best thing about working with millennials is that they’re not all wrapped up in the decencies of workplace etiquette. When dealing with this group you can get right to the point, expect and ask for brutal honesty, and not worry so much about the proper chain-of-command. Not only that, but millennials expect to be connected to work at all times via their smartphones and won’t take a late-night email as an intrusion.
2. You’re boxing them in.
Maybe you’re worried about their lack of experience or perhaps you’re just used to giving employees and coworkers very, very clear parameters. Millennials don’t work this way. You’ll be shocked just how innovative and outside the box they can get if you give them room to take risks – reward your millennials for being outlandish, for having ‘big’ ideas, and for taking chances and they’ll impress you.
3. You’re keeping them too separated.
Thanks to the new college experience and the connectivity of the internet, millennials aren’t just used to working in teams, they work best this way. Maybe you pride yourself in giving everyone an office and ensuring all employees have a specific set of duties but in fact, an open-concept work environment or regularly scheduled collaboration sessions may be serving you better. One millennial plus one millennial equals more than two.
4. You’re not giving them enough social power.
If there’s one thing millennials understand better than anyone else on your staff, it’s social media. Don’t be so protective of your brand that you’re missing the point of the unpolished, engaging nature of social! Your millennials inherently understand how to communicate online and they’ll do your brand a world of good if you just give them the leeway to talk to customers, other brands, and represent the company as themselves.
5. You’re not giving them good reasons to stick around.
Millennials have a reputation for being flaky and yes, it’s true, they only stay at positions about a year and a half, on average. But you can change that! The more reasons you give them to invest themselves in your company (and the more ownership in its growth) the harder time they’re going to have leaving. “Perks” are more attractive to them than “benefits” and they get the value of equity early on. It’s a Catch 22 but the more invested you get in your millennials, the more they’ll get in the business.
6. You’re not giving them enough feedback.
You know what millennials want? Direction. They don’t want you to micromanage and they don’t want to speak to you only at their biannual evaluation. They want you to take them to lunch and openly and honestly talk to them about their mistakes, their upcoming challenges, and what they’re doing right. They’re difficult to insult, those millennials, and that’s a good thing.
7. You’re not letting them work remotely.
Millennials value flexibility in their workplace and they’re surprisingly accountable when given leeway to work from home, take personal days when needed, and ‘work until the job is done.’ The more you let millennials define their own work experience the more they’re going to give back to your brand. Ditch the 9-5 attitude once and for all and watch these employees flourish.
What are you doing to stifle the productivity of your millennials? They’re bright, they’re engaged, and most of all they’re ready and they need you to bend a little to accommodate their style. Everyone will benefit from a little compromise!
How are you building a culture of diversity and strength across the generations?
Ryan Currie is a product manager at BizShark.com, with 5 years experience in online marketing and product development. In addition to web related businesses, he also enjoys the latest news and information on emerging technologies and open source projects.
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7 Ways You’re Missing Opportunities with Millennials
1-4, 7: definitely agree. 5: Perks are definitely more attractive than benefits, but variety of experience is more attractive than perks. Millennials won’t put up with the same thing for long (nor should they, nor should anyone who wants to grow). 6: Yes & no. “Direction” is more a function of being new at a role or task (Situational Leadership “D1”). What Millennials want is constant feedback, regardless of the amount of direction they need.
Great points and thanks for reading. I’ve worked with a number of start ups – and one thing in particular that is very important is goals and expectations. If it’s a project with an end point – it’s nice (not just for Millennials, but for everyone) the expectations of the project and of the team. It’s more of a metric of knowing how and when to pivot and when to stay the course. This may be a product of protecting their “personal brand” – remember Millennials have been sold to since infancy and are very aware of branding not only for a product, but personally.
This is a fantastic list. I have many younger managers on my team. They coached me to dress more casually when I’m in meetings with them. That was easy. Now I have my headquarters attire and my out in the field attire… more comfortable for all of us.
Thanks for your kind words! I completely agree that it’s a two way street when working with any new group: You have a lot to offer them, and a good manager/boss/colleague knows that everyone has something to teach you as well. Even if it’s as simple as workplace casual.
Excellent insights and some would never have crossed my mind – like the late night emails being a part of a 24/7 connected world vs and intrusion. I worked for a company with a lot of Millennials and upper management finally started to talk about giving people the opportunity to work remotely. Problem was that they said “I trust you but not really” all at once. They prohibited work from home on Mondays and Fridays and limited it to two days non consecutive. The rules undermined the spirit of the program and ultimately faded away.
Thanks Alli! The book “Quiet: The Power of Introverts” by Susan Cain goes in depth about how in a modern open work place – some people NEED to have the flexibility of some privacy and that something like one day work from home a week is kind of a “recharge”. I do see the value of a proper balance of work productivity from home and having a set day for meetings in-office, but I agree with you. Trust and empathy are 2 things in a business that can go overlooked, but are really critical.
Well done post, Ryan! I have found that Millennials are an extraordinary bunch and have taught me so much about technology and honest feedback. I’ve been coaching one individual who took my ideas about time management to a whole new level. He figured out ways to restructure his daily load to accommodate all his meetings and unexpected activities. He is so excited about his new found time that he is building in more reflective tasks and opportunities.
Thanks for sharing all the good stuff about a truly motivated generation!
Hi Terri! Thanks for your comment. Some Millennials get a bad name, but just like Gen-Xer’s or Boomers – it’s more of a generational thing. It looks like you hit the jackpot with a very receptive young worker. I think the fact that you acknowledge the value of his work shows him how open you are as well – and that is what makes for a great mentor. With that kind of free exchange, I guarantee he is learning a lot from you as well; those are the best kind of managers.
Thanks for the article!