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Bruce Mayhew


Eight Tips for Managing Millennials at the Office

Posted: 08/08/2013 5:26 pm

They're in their twenties; they're hungry. They're coming for your office.

They're "Millennials" (also known as Generation Y), and many will want to wear flip-flops to work, don't care about spelling, have zero discipline, and expect the keys to the C-Suite. Despite the fact that their managers likely raised Millennial children of their own, those managers frequently find themselves at a loss as to how to train and retain Millennial malcontents.

Don't panic, I have a plan.

It's called "The Masterclass for Millenitude Motivation," a crafted a solution to ease generational office obstacles.

We can't simply chalk it up to helicopter parenting -- a number of factors have created a generational chasm between employers and Millennial staff. Fortunately, it's not a hopeless situation. You can cultivate a great working relationship by slightly altering your approach to motivation, mentoring, feedback and on-the-job training.

Like it or not, managers have to find a way to help Millennials. According to Time Magazine, by 2025 three out of four workers worldwide will be Millennials. With the high cost of hiring and training new talent, companies cannot afford to lose employees, and this new generation of workers seem inclined to quit over a perceived slight and then search for greener pastures later. The average Millennial stays at a job for a median of two years.

Here are a few techniques for mitigating millennial migration:

Millennials are like bears: You will both be better off if you know each other's boundaries and what motivates them to move. Be clear about your parameters and expectations of these employees.

Throw treats ("peanut praise"): Provide your Millennial a daily boost, however small it may seem. While Boomers and Gen Xers expect kudos at the end of a project, Millennials benefit from smaller and more frequent comments like "that was a helpful idea you had in today's meeting."

The kill is more important than the hunt: Millennials focus more on the results rather than time in office. They're also great multi-taskers -- they might have their headphones on listing to the newest indie band while concentrating on work.

Make the office feel like their natural habitat: Without sacrificing professionalism, create a livable dress code. Be clear with what's appropriate -- if they want to attend client meetings, formal business attire is mandatory. Let them choose and be responsible for that choice.

Use carrot and stick instead of a whip: To get the behaviour you want, show why "the way we do it" is best for the client, company, staff and themselves. If they don't understand, Millennials will try to change arbitrary rules based on their own (incomplete) perception and experience. Consider what you can do to better train or challenge your Millennials; they'll be more likely to stick around.

Don't Run!: Much like encountering a lion in the wild, running away from the situation is never a good call. Millennials are flexible and curious. Usually, smaller problems can be solved with dialogue and constructive feedback before they become an ongoing struggle.

Millennials want to run with the pack: Millennials grew up working on teams to get school projects done, sports teams or dance classes. If you keep them isolated they'll not perform at their best and they'll find another pack.

Someday, they might lead the pack: Just because Millennials are junior employees now doesn't mean they can't climb the corporate ladder and be your boss in five years. As a Boomer or Generation Xer, help them see your point of view and learn to communicate and motivate you. This will make Millennials better workers today and leaders in the future.

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  • You Think You Can't Make Money While Pursuing Your Passion

    Twenty-somethings often think that their career is an either-or choice between fulfilling a passion or earning a lot of money, Dr. Meg Jay, a clinical psychologist who specializes in 20-somethings, told The Huffington Post. But 20-somethings should be looking for a career that can fulfill their passion <em>while</em> meeting financial needs. It's possible.

  • You Stay On A Path You Know Is Not Right For Too Long

    Twenty-somethings should be building a career that they want for the long haul, said Alexis Grant, an entrepreneurial writer and digital strategist. "If you realize you are not doing the right thing, figure out how to get on the right road as soon as possible. Don’t worry so much about lost time or lost investments," she said.

  • You Think 'I'll Really Start My Career At 30'

    Young professionals often think that the jobs they have in their 20s "don't matter," Dr. Jay said. But employees in their 20s should be in jobs that are helping them build "identity capital," so they can figure out where they want to be at the next stage of their career.

  • You Compare Yourself To Your Peers

    In school, students find themselves doing roughly the same things as their peers, which makes it easy to compare their accomplishments to others. But after college, comparisons are "just too complex to be useful," Dr. Jay explains. People also tend to only compare themselves to those who seem to be doing better than they are, which can lead to feelings of depression, she added.

  • You Act Entitled

    Twenty-somethings who had <a href="http://www.forbes.com/sites/susanadams/2012/08/02/the-biggest-mistakes-20-something-job-seekers-make/" target="_blank">over-involved parents can sometimes think that they deserve an easy ride at work,</a> Dani Ticktin Koplik, an executive and performance coach, told Forbes. This can have a devastating effect on their career, not to mention their relationships with superiors.

  • You Aren't Mindful Of Social Media Use

    Twelve percent of hiring managers said it's a mistake for millennial job candidates to discuss a job interview on personal social media sites, according to a recent survey by Adecco, a human resources consulting company. Not being professional on<a href="http://mashable.com/2011/06/16/weinergate-social-media-job-loss/" target="_blank"> social media can cost people their jobs</a> as well.

  • You Are Not Building Something For Yourself, Just Your Employer

    In today's working world, 20-somethings really need to be thinking about what they can walk away with when they inevitably switch employers, Grant said. "Throw yourself into your day job, but also build something for you because you will likely not be in your job forever," she said. Grant suggested writing a blog or working on obtaining a Twitter following.

  • You Worry Too Much About Current Work-Life Balance

    Young professionals will sometimes think that they are working too hard now and that it will be like that for the rest of their career, Dr. Jay said. What young professionals should really be thinking about is if they are in a job that will provide them with work-life balance in the future when they will be thinking about starting a family and other life decisions.


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