Managing through the generation gap

Millennials bring fresh perspectives and work habits to the office.  Just like all other generations, they  are a product of their environment.

Consider the use of technology. Most generations learned to use a computer in high school, in college or even on the job. Millennials, however, grew up playing computer games, using e-mail and talking on a cell phone at a much earlier age than prior generations. While new technologies can still make a baby boomer’s head spin, to a millennial, they’re second nature. Technology doesn’t present the “fear factor” to millennials that it does to Baby Boomers and even to some Gen Xers.

Here’s a few more characteristics of millennials:

·         Developed work characteristics and tendencies from doting parents and structured lives.

·         Like to work in teams and want to make friends with people at work.

·         Look for feedback about their performance frequently – even daily.

·         Seek leadership and structure, from their older and managerial co-workers, but expect that you will draw out and respect their ideas.

HR Daily Advisor offers the following ten tips to on managing millennials and helping them thrive in your organization.

1.       Provide structure. For example, reports with monthly due dates, jobs with fairly regular hours, certain activities scheduled every day, meetings with agendas and minutes, goals that are clearly stated, and assessments of progress.

2.       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.

3.       Encourage the millennials’ self-assuredness, can-do attitude, and positive personal self-image. Millennials are ready to take on the world. Encourage — don’t squash them or contain them.

4.       Take advantage of the millennials’ comfort level with teams. Encourage them to join. Millennials gather in groups and play on teams; you can also mentor, coach, and train your millennials as a team.

5.       Listen to the millennial employees. They are used to loving parents who have scheduled their lives around their children. These young adults have ideas and opinions, and don’t take kindly to having their thoughts ignored.

6.       Provide challenge and change. Boring is bad. Millennials seek ever-changing tasks within their work. What’s happening next is their mantra. Don’t bore them, ignore them, or trivialize their contribution.

7.       Expect multitasking. Millennials are multitaskers on a scale you’ve never seen before. Talk on the phone while doing e-mail and answering multiple instant messages? Yes; it’s a way of life.

8.       Take advantage of your millennials’ electronic literacy. The computer, mobile device, and other media 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. Millennials text him in his meeting for an immediate response. (How about reverse mentoring—youngest workers train oldest workers?)

9.       Capitalize on the millennials’ affinity for networking. Not just comfortable with teams and group activities, millennial employees like to network around the world electronically.

10.   Provide work-life balance. Millennial employees are used to cramming their lives with multiple activities. Although they work hard, they are not into the 60-hour workweeks defined by the baby boomers. Balance and multiple activities are important. Ignore this at your peril.

Do you have any millennials in your office? Share your thoughts on how you have or haven’t had to change your management style to keep your office running as efficiently as possible.  Also, take a look at “A millennials view on working with millennials.”



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