Managing Millennials

5 facts about millennials that will affect your management style.

There are nearly 80 million young adults born between 1976 and 2001 who have already joined or are preparing to join the workforce, with that number expected to grow to 46 percent by 2020, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This age group, known as millennials, views the world differently than previous generations, which can lead to misunderstandings in the workplace. But they also possess unique competencies. To best harness these strengths, keep these traits in mind.

1. They are committed to personal growth

A recent survey from Adecco Staffing found that career growth ranks as the most important aspect in a first job for young professionals. This should indicate to employers that to effectively recruit younger workers, interviewers should clearly articulate opportunities for growth such as: the process for promotions, career and skills training (in-house or through third-party vendors), and formal and informal mentorships, says Sherry Dixon, senior vice president, Adecco Staffing U.S.A.

This commitment to personal growth will also benefit your business, as millennials tend to be eager to cultivate new skills, including their leadership capabilities.

2. They’re tech-savvy

Millennials are not only comfortable with technology, but expect their higher-ups to be, too. As digital natives, they are used to communicating via email, text and social networks, and they tend to be skilled multitaskers. They also expect the organization to keep up with the latest workplace technology. Their unique ability to thrive in a constantly connected world allows millennials to easily touch base with coworkers and make use of collaboration tools, notes Dixon.

3. They embody entrepreneurship

This technology prowess lends itself to an inspiring entrepreneurial spirit. Millennials know how to use today’s tools to help reach their career goals. They are accustomed to the quick work pace that technology advancements facilitate. They also tend to be open to risk-taking and eager to learn new skills, observes Dixon.

4. They prioritize work-life balance

Millennials value work-life balance and often seek job opportunities that will allow them to maintain their relationships and interests outside of work. In part because of their tech fluency, they tend to be able to work well remotely. This can be an asset for your office, especially if you have team members in various locations. It might also lend itself to certain expectations: Younger employees may expect to have more flexibility when it comes to their schedules.  

To them, money is not necessarily the be-all and end-all; they’d give up money for personal satisfaction or flexibility, says Robin Throckmorton, president of Strategic HR and co-author of Bridging the Generation Gap.

Many millennials are also passionate about volunteerism and corporate social responsibility — a trait that can have positive ramifications for your office culture.

5. They expect feedback

Young professionals expect frequent feedback from their managers on what needs to be improved and on what’s going well. Managers should communicate regularly with these employees and provide constructive input as well as praise.

This generation needs to have clear expectations spelled out from the beginning, including what needs to be accomplished and by when, says Throckmorton. She also notes that millennials like to understand why you want a particular task completed. Share the business reason with them, and it’s done, she says.

Remember, millennials have grown up in an age when information is readily available. They work quickly, love to learn new things and thrive on a challenge. Empower your millennial workers with the tools and input needed to get the job done and advance their career goals, and both your business and your employees will benefit.


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