Harnessing the Power of the “Me” Generation: Tips for Managing Millennials
“Let me take a selfie!”
It is the rally cry of the “me” generation; Millennials who have gotten a bit of a bad reputation for being self-involved, narcissistic and lazy at work.
These are the newest employees entering our workforce, taking up approximately 35 percent of all jobs today. They were born in the 80’s and 90’s and are the most techno-savvy generation yet. They also care about finding a decent work/life balance, and while they have been viewed as “lazy” in the past, they are actually a generation that is simply intent on working smarter, not harder. Millennials are all about efficiency and using the tools at their disposal to get the job done right in the least amount of time, saving precious hours for other endeavors or personal pursuits.
Companies that can learn how to harness that prowess actually stand to benefit greatly, particularly because Millennials are estimated to be taking over the workforce in the next few years. Learning how to grow and retain these employees is key to the success of organizations moving forward, which means looking past the obsession with self-expression and recognizing the value in what this generation has to offer.
Remembering that this is a generation that grew up being praised constantly for their work by parents who were focused on building self-esteem, managers need to understand the Millennials thrive in environments where they are receiving constant feedback. Annual assessments are not going to be enough for the youngest members of the workforce. They need to be told on a regular basis how they are doing, praised for their accomplishments and guided in how they can improve. That doesn’t mean micro-managing their work, but rather providing strong and present leadership that they can look up to and want to learn from.
Because they do so value that work/life balance, this generation of employees is going to respond to organizations that are willing to look at the work week in a different way. That means being open to flexible work arrangements when possible, including exploring options for working from home and providing opportunities to work longer days during the week in order to get Fridays off. Most of all, this generation wants to know that you value their time as much as they do – that you aren’t just forcing them in the office to punch a clock, but are actually utilizing their time and allowing them to benefit from hard work and quality production.
Mentor Towards Growth
Unlike their older counterparts, Millennials are not going to be content staying in the same job for the next 40 years. They are a generation forever looking for the next big challenge and hurdle to overcome, and they have sights on moving their way up; either through the ranks of your organization, or the next one to take them on. If you want to retain these valuable employees, you need to be willing to invest in their future. The best managers of Millennials will be those who serve as mentors and show a genuine interest in helping these young employees to grow and define where they want to be. Provide new challenges and opportunities for learning, and don’t stifle these employees by assuming they will always remain in the same role they were hired for. They won’t – and you will lose them if you aren’t willing to see beyond that initial vision for bringing them on board.
Millennials can be a valuable asset to any organization, with fresh ideas and an understanding of networking and technology that exceeds anything we have seen before. But companies have to know how to harness that energy in order to survive and continue thriving in the years to come. This generation has so much more to offer than the selfie, and those organizations that learn how to best manage this exciting and innovative group are the ones that are going to find the most success moving forward.