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Eleven Tips for Managing Millennials

The millennials in your organization are employees born between 1980 and 1995, or 1981 and 1999, depending on the author. Unlike the Gen-Xers and the Boomers, the Millennials have developed work characteristics and tendencies from doting parents, structured lives, and contact with diverse people. Millennials are used to working in teams and want to make friends with people at work. Millennials work well with diverse coworkers.

Millennials have a “can-do” attitude about tasks at work and look for feedback about how they are doing frequently – even daily. Millennials want a variety of tasks and expect that they will accomplish every one of them. Positive and confident, millennials are ready to take on the world.

They seek leadership, and even structure, from their older and managerial coworkers, but expect that you will draw out and respect their ideas.

Millennials seek a challenge and do not want to experience boredom. Used to balancing many activities such as teams, friends, and philanthropic activities, millennials want flexibility in scheduling and a life away from work.

Millennials need to see where their career is going and they want to know exactly what they need to do to get there. Millennials await their next challenge – there better be a next challenge. Millennials are the most connected generation in history and will network right out of their current workplace if these needs are not met. Computer experts, millennials are connected all over the world by email, instant messages, text messages, and the Internet.

Eleven Tips for Millennial Management

  • Provide structure. Reports have monthly due dates. Jobs have fairly regular hours. Certain activities are scheduled every day. Meetings have agendas and minutes. Goals are clearly stated and progress is assessed. Define assignments and success factors.
  • Provide leadership and guidance. Millennials want to look up to you, learn from you, and receive daily feedback from you. They want “in” on the whole picture and to know the scoop. Plan to spend a lot of time teaching and coaching and be aware of this commitment to millennials when you hire them. They deserve and want your very best investment of time in their success.
  • Encourage the millennial's self-assuredness, "can-do" attitude, and positive personal self-image. Millennials are ready to take on the world. Their parents told them they can do it - they can. Encourage - don't squash them or contain them.
  • Take advantage of the millennial's comfort level with teams. Encourage them to join. They are used to working in groups and teams. In contrast to the lone ranger attitude of earlier generations, millennials actually believe a team can accomplish more and better - they've experienced team success. Not just related to age, watch who joins the volleyball match at the company picnic. Millennials gather in groups and play on teams; you can also mentor, coach, and train your millennials as a team.
  • Listen to the millennial employee. Your millennial employees are used to loving parents who have scheduled their lives around the activities and events of their children. These young adults have ideas and opinions, and don't take kindly to having their thoughts ignored. After all, they had the best listening, most child-centric audience in history.
  • Millennial employees are up for a challenge and change. Boring is bad. They seek ever-changing tasks within their work. What’s happening next is their mantra. Don’t bore them, ignore them, or trivialize their contribution.
  • Millennial employees are multi-taskers on a scale you’ve never seen before. Multiple tasks don’t phase them. Talk on the phone while doing email and answering multiple instant messages – yes! This is a way of life. In fact, without many different tasks and goals to pursue within the week, the millennials will likely experience boredom.
  • Take advantage of your millennial employee’s computer, cell phone, and electronic literacy. Are you a Boomer or even an early Gen-Xer? The electronic capabilities of these employees are amazing. You have a salesman in China? How’s the trip going? Old timers call and leave a message in his hotel room. Or, you can have your millennial text message him in his meeting for an immediate response. The world is wide, if not yet deep, for your millennial employees.
  • Capitalize on the millennial’s affinity for networking. Not just comfortable with teams and group activities, your millennial employee likes to network around the world electronically. Keep this in mind because they are able to post their resume electronically as well on Web job boards viewed by millions of employers. Sought after employees, they are loyal, but they keep their options open – always.
  • Provide a life-work balanced workplace. Your millennial employees are used to cramming their lives with multiple activities. They may play on sports teams, walk for multiple causes, spend time as fans at company sports leagues, and spend lots of time with family and friends. They work hard, but they are not into the sixty hour work weeks defined by the Baby Boomers. Home, family, spending time with the children and families, are priorities. Don’t lose sight of this. Balance and multiple activities are important to these millennial employees. Ignore this to your peril.
  • Provide a fun, employee-centered workplace. Millennials want to enjoy their work. They want to enjoy their workplace. They want to make friends in their workplace. Worry if your millennial employees aren’t laughing, going out with workplace friends for lunch, and helping plan the next company event or committee. Help your long-term employees make room for the millennials.

These are desirable employees. Make your millennial employees happy in a fun, yet structured setting, and you are building the foundation for the superior workforce you desire. You are developing the workforce of your future.

As always, when I characterize a group of employees based on age, or any other characteristic, some employees will fit this description; some employees will fit part of this description; some employees will not fit this description. Yet, I believe that, if you heed these tips, you will steer your organization forward, more times than not, with a positive approach to managing your millennial employees.

Reprinted with permission. 'Managing Millennials: Eleven Tips for Managing Millennials" by Susan M. Heathfield, From http://www.about.com/

This article may not be republished without the express permission of the copyright owner identified in the article.