Oct 20, 2015

Guest Blog By: David Romano, Benchmarkinc Founder

Don’t even try to MANAGE Millennials.  Seriously.  That tactic, which worked brilliantly with Baby Boomers and Generation X is dead!  What must be done now is for you to LEAD them.

The good news is that Millennials are just people – people born between 1980 and the early 2000s; according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics they now make up nearly 40% of the workforce.  Like most people, they aim to have a job where they are valued, make an impact and develop their skills, all while being interested in what they do and being fairly paid for their effort.  At the same time, they require to be part of a team led by a “Players” coach instead of a coach with an authoritarian style that manages through unrealistic expectations, threats, and sanctions.

Leading is different than managing. While managing is about organizing, coordinating and telling, leading is about inspiring and enabling and co-creating. The number one problem first-time leaders face is failing to understand that leading requires entirely different strengths than does doing or managing. For those willing to change, the successful framework looks a bit like this.

Make the company a place where you always want to be: If your mission is to provide a service better than your competition through working longer and harder than anyone else, you need to make the company a place your employees love to be.

Food means a lot to Millennials: Millennials covet well-prepared food and dine out more often than not; and the reward of a meal can be even more important than the potential commissions and/or bonuses. The productivity gained and the vibe created far outweigh the cost of the food.

A relentless focus on the bottom line will not inspire Millennial workers to be relentless: Your business and financial goals will not be closely aligned with the goals of your Millennial team.  Provide the belonging and self-actualization needs they crave, and Millennials will knock your socks off with astounding performance. If you give them the environment they seek, your profits will soar.

Be specific: Talking in theory can make for an interesting conversation, but coaching specific items and tying expectations to measurable (and attainable) results yields the best outcome. This is especially true when working with Millennials since they have less working experience. Often, your newer employees don’t know what they don’t know, so they aren’t even aware if there are better options available or if their performance is sub par.

Be positive but realistic: Most people appreciate being recognized for doing well. Make sure you stop to point out successes as you see them. This does not need to be formal; just plan to give the “fist bumps” (you can even blow them up) as they arise. In addition, have structured individual meetings with your employees at least twice a month to go over their performance.

In summary, Millennials are people too. They’re just new(er) people to the workforce, and as such, they want and require more direction on a regular basis. Most managers probably have that direction (good or bad) in their heads, but the key is to share this information with your employees in a productive manner along the way. Your team morale and performance will greatly improve as a result of your planning and attention.   You have to ask yourself, is it more important to hold on to the ideals you have formed over your career and stop progress; or, is it better to adapt to the attributes of today’s workforce, embrace change, and lead a company to a greater level of profits and efficiency?  Your call, but the answer should be pretty obvious!