Google “Millennials at work” and you won’t find much positive commentary – even from Millennials themselves. It’s easy to pile on to the negativity, but it’s unproductive to jump on this bandwagon. A business without a Millennial is a business without a future, so now’s the time to learn how to help Millennials thrive on your team. And you’ll find that when Millennials thrive, so do their older colleagues.
Here are ten things you can do to help Millennials – and the rest of your team – thrive.
- Reject the negative stereotypes. It’s statistically impossible for an entire generation to be terrible. Be the one who becomes the champion not the condescending boss.
- Don’t let them be wrong for long. They will make mistakes or do something that seems rude to you or is just wrong. Tell them – constructively – as soon as you can, and provide specific alternatives for their behavior or performance. Do NOT let them be wrong – keep on coming in 20 minutes late – over and over again so that when you do talk with them, they’re embarrassed that you let them be wrong. Trust me on this.
- Ask for their input. The number one thing you can do to demonstrate that someone matters is to ask for, and then listen to, their ideas. Apply ideas that you can. Explain why you can’t apply the ones you can’t.
- Make sure everyone understands their roles on the team. Entry-level Millennials may think their work doesn’t matter, or that no one will notice their effort. Disabuse them of that fact by making sure everyone on the team understands their own and everyone else’s roles. That way everyone knows who’s counting on whom to get the job done.
- Context is King Kong. Always provide the context for the work at hand. Explaining why the work is important, what success looks like, what success enables, and how this work ties into the company’s overall goal is critical for your team to understand how they and their work fits in. “Just because I said so” may have worked for you when you were this age, it won’t work for you to say it now.
- Set expectations early and often. What do you expect? By when? In what form? With what behavior. Do not assume that anyone knows what “should” be done. “They should know” is useless as an excuse for not setting expectations every time.
- Create a mentoring program for your younger employees so that they have another, more experienced person (not their boss), to learn from. The number one request from Millennials entering a company is for mentorship.
- Be explicit in setting deadlines. Missing deadlines is a huge complaint about Millennials. Don’t be vague. What time on what date by what medium (paper, email, text, etc.) every time you set a deadline.
- Learning and Training. Millennials have heard from their parents about the perils of not staying current and relevant. Hard skills, soft skills – communication especially, and management/leadership training will a) help your Millennials to succeed and b) improve your team’s overall performance.
- Ask them for help. Millennials know things you don’t. Ask them for help and watch engagement soar.
CEO Lee Caraher is the author of the new The Boomerang Principle: Inspire Lifetime Loyalty From Your Employees and Millennials & Management: The Essential Guide to Making it Work at Work.