Ah, Millennials: the generation that has received more press than any other in the past few years. They’re perpetual job-hoppers, they’re entitled, they’re not driven, they don’t have real goals, they’re lazy. One big Millennials headline that we’ve left out? They’re hard to manage.
It may be true that some Millennials require different management techniques than other age-groups. But just because they have a different way of working doesn't make them hard to manage. You may just have to take the time to understand them.
Check out our list of ways to mis-manage millennials, written by (surprise, surprise) a millennial:
1. Don't give them opportunities to learn
One of the number one qualities millennials look for in a new employer? Opportunities to grow.
Some millennials are coming into the work force right out of college, but weren’t necessarily taught everything they needed to know about life. They especially weren’t taught everything about the professional fields they’re entering.
Giving millennials, even those above entry-level, chances to develop their knowledge and skills continually, will benefit both you and your team.
When your employees are constantly learning, they can be better at their jobs, and make more informed decisions, which in turn benefits your business.
Those who complain that millennials are fickle and don’t stay at jobs long enough are probably not offering enough growth momentum and a future that their young employees can believe in.
2. Don’t give them opportunities to branch out of their usual duties
Often the expectations and parameters of a specific role are set and outlined before the job even begins.
But that doesn’t mean a millennial doesn’t want the opportunity to try their hand at cross departmental tasks, or take on a pet project of their own.
A new hire who comes in for a sales job or operations may have a hidden passion for writing and can help contribute to the company blog. Or maybe your new account executive has an interest in the environment and can lead the charge on making your office more green.
These days, limiting your employees to the confines of their specific role can lead to missed opportunities: missed opportunities to find the strong suits each of your team members has that can make your working environment fun, inclusive, and dynamic.
Additionally, cross training opportunities between departments can help you to create well rounded employees who can contribute on multiple levels to your business.
Especially if you run a small business, finding and hiring millennials who can become jack-of-all-trades will help you immensely when there is a pressing issue and it’s all hands on deck to navigate a solution.
3. Assume they have nothing better to do than spend 80 hours a week doing menial tasks
Don’t want your company to be a revolving door of young 20-somethings who seem to leave as soon as they start?
Then be a company that values each and every employee, entry-level employees included.
We talked recently about how top talent wants to work with other top talent. To attract top talent you have to give responsibility and fulfillment to your workers, at least some of the time.
When you treat millennials as dispensable, or give them all the menial tedious tasks, they’ll get the hint and quickly begin the hunt for more meaningful work.
Recent studies have also shown that millennials are caring increasingly about work-life balance.
Blame it on all those Instagram inspirational quotes about travel and freedom, but the newest additions to this country’s work force want to work to live, not live to work.
If your expectations are that your young team is young, and therefore have the time and energy to slave away for you, you couldn’t be more wrong.
If you absolutely need people who are willing to put in overtime, make sure they can see what they will be getting in return.
4. Only delegate to them
Millennials can take direction, sure.
But in order to see them reach their full potential, it’s a mistake to simply delegate tasks to them instead of asking them for input or allowing them to take part in the whole process.
Hand-holding on the job is what plagues companies with inefficiency and overlapping duties leading to redundancy.
By letting millennial employees take decisions on their own, or operate with minimal oversight, you can create strong colleagues who you can trust, and who take pride in their work.
Of course initially there may be some sink or swim moments. But by teaching millennials that failure isn’t necessarily bad, they will continue to take risks, learn along the way, and potentially come up with some great ideas from their unique perspectives.
We also wrote recently about how trust is so important in top-down corporate structures.
If you want to be seen as a leader, and not just a manager, trust that you are setting up your millennial employees for success by giving them the tools they need to do their jobs well.
5. Assume they are entitled/lazy/(insert stereotype here)
Millennials sometimes get a bad wrap.
We’ve all seen the open letters penned by self-righteous millennials who whine to the CEO of their company about pay and hours.
But these people are the exception, not the rule. Remember that the current millennial generation is the most highly-educated generation in history.
They were told that if they went to good schools and graduated with good degrees, they’d be guaranteed good jobs. But the market became oversaturated, and many Millennials find its much harder to find a good paying job than what they were led to believe.
It’s not a sense of entitlement that most of them hold, it’s a feeling of being tricked. Because of this, most of them are willing to go above and beyond to secure a job and excel at it.
Lumping any group of people together under an umbrella of stereotypes is unfair.
Millennials are no different.
Treat them as if they’re different from anyone else
Ultimately, the biggest mistake you can make when managing millennials is to assume they need to be managed or treated differently from anyone else!
It’s not just millennials who want learning opportunities, unique responsibilities, a work-life balance, self-direction, and the benefit of the doubt. We would argue pretty much all members of the workforce want these things; it just might be that millennials are the most vocal about it.
The US job market is undergoing a transformative period. With more jobs and companies being digitized, and with company culture shedding the rigid expectations of corporate America, millennials are simply the ushers of the new working culture that affects all of us.
With so many diverse backgrounds, incredibly impressive educations, and unique experiences, millennials are a force to be reckoned with and will continue to be so.
Value their knowledge, listen to their needs, and then do that with all of your employees no matter their level or generation.