The first hint I can give you is this – DON’T CALL THEM MILLENNIALS! The majority of them really don’t like it. They often think that term has bad connotations and it boxes them into a stereotype. And its true- it does. But so does “Baby Boomer.” Millennials, however, were raised to feel like each person is an individual with special talents. Putting them all into one category can seem offensive and near sighted– especially the one’s that don’t fit any of the stereotypes. So let’s just keep “Millennials” as our secret term and move on.
Here’s the 5 tips for working with Millennials:
- Nothing “goes without saying”: Millennials are accustomed to challenging the social and corporate norms. This may derive from the fast pace of technological and societal change they have experienced in their short lifetime. What it means for management is that nothing “goes without saying.” You will need to establish clear boundaries and structure if you don’t want them to create their own. It’s the idea of “if they didn’t say I couldn’t- I can!”. To them, this may be thinking outside of the box and ambitious. To you, this will likely be a human resources and management two-month headache. Just tell them the rules, honestly.
- Understand their need for information/feedback: They grew up with instantaneous information. It’s not surprising that they expect a similar flow of information from their coworkers and supervisors. They are used to the instant feedback of social media. They have adapted to expect that from everyday interactions. Be prepared for this and schedule time for them to receive feedback on their progress and development. This goes back to our previous point- if you don’t they will likely assume what you think. This could be a problem.
- Be transparent in your culture and expectations: Millennials are very aware of the different types of corporate cultures and what their peers are experiencing at different companies. This can cause them to come to a position or organization with preconceived notions of what “work” will or should be like. Be explicitly clear up front about what your culture is (and is not) and the expectations of their position. They consider this training and professional development. It will be appreciated.
- Understand the new financial burdens they are facing: Millennials are without a doubt the most financially handicapped generation to enter the workforce. With 50% of them leaving college with twice the amount of student debt as the previous generation, they are having an incredibly difficult time establishing a strong foothold on adulthood and independence. Understand that they may exhibit some erratic reactionary behavior due to their financial stress. Take time to understand the situation each Millennial that works with you is in and help them develop a realistic plan to achieve their career vision.
I have worked with many reliable, hardworking, and dedicated to high performance Millennials. People like our newst Executive Coach, Courtland James, Samantha Steidle, Aerial Lev with the CoLab, JD Sutphin, Scott Duvall, Joseph Carleno, and others in our community. There are too many standouts to name them all here. Millennials are people. They have strengths and weaknesses. They have preferences- some stereotypical, some personal. Sometimes they are difficult to understand and communicate with. Sometimes they let us down. Sometimes they do really stupid things. I think that pretty much describes any one of us. I think we can all relate to that.
A BIG THANKS to Courtland James for his major contributions to the creation of this article.
This picture is from this morning when I was with Ruth Cassell, Chief Development Officer of Family Services of Roanoke Valley live on Fox 21/27 discussing their Celebrity Tip Off fund raiser.