From Dissertation to Director: Are Millennials Manageable?

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Millennials make up a massive chunk of our current workforce, not to mention the number of successful startups that have been founded and are thriving by savvy Millennials. So, how can businesses engage and retain the workforce that is key to the success of their business?

Business owners must look to embrace a culture that not only accommodates Millennials but nurtures them. Part of this culture is about having people at all levels of the business who are passionate about helping others, as well as the business, grow. And that goes hand in hand with being a good leader. But we all know it’s not always easy being a leader, especially when you are a Millennial managing other Millennials. While we are a group of hard-working individuals, our generation needs a slightly different management style, so here are some attributes on what it takes to be a good leader.

Treat everyone as an individual

Taking the time to understand what drives and motivates each of your employees on a personal level is the key to a motivated and engaged workforce. No employer should see their employees as numbers on a spreadsheet, but instead individual pillars to the success of the organisation. What makes one pillar stand strong will always be different to another, and the support that pillar will need will also vary. Millennials, from experience, are often driven by a work/life balance that allows them to succeed in all aspects of their life and fulfil personal goals that may include travelling, family life, new skills or just taking time to focus on themselves. So understanding their needs, personal milestones, as well as career-driven ones, and helping them to achieve them will make a huge difference.

Show them they are valued

All employees like to feel valued, but Millennials, in particular, are driven by the value they can contribute and how that value is shown. They are often not just content with a paycheck at the end of each month and come to work for more than that. They want to know they can make a difference, not only at work but in other aspects too. They often thrive from being given more responsibility or business critical tasks/roles that fall outside of their existing remit. But don’t forget to thank them for it and show them what value they as an individual are bringing to the business.

Millennials thrive on reassurance and praise as well as reward, so for some, the softer recognition is more valued than the physical reward. Make sure to take the time to sit them down and tell them when they are doing a fab job; it might take just 10 mins of your day, but it will stay with them for a while longer.

Be human

Employees are humans too. You know how you would like to be treated so you should treat your team with the same respect, compassion, care and tactfulness. Everybody has bad days; everybody makes mistakes, so make sure you take the time to find out the bigger picture before flying off the handle if something isn’t done how it should be. I also think it’s important to take some time each week, even if it’s just five minutes, to talk to your team about them. Their life, what they have been up to, how their weekend was. Just anything that helps you build a rapport with them that stretches past being just colleagues, the fact that you care enough to make an effort will go a long way.

Gain their trust

This is an important one. Millennials want to know that their managers have their backs and they want to feel supported. Gaining trust is key when it comes to a good manager relationship as it allows for more open conversations and lets colleagues share things they may have otherwise been hesitant to raise. Some of those conversations highlight the most significant things and can allow for monumental changes to be made, not just for them, but for others too. So make sure they know they can trust you with any piece of information and that you will handle it with respect and diplomacy, even if it’s a tricky one.

Be transparent

Millennials value the truth, however brutal it may be. Of course, there are ways in which you need to tailor what you deliver to different individuals, but the most important thing is to be transparent. Millennials are savvy, and they will read straight through you if you are trying to pull the wool over their eyes. You must be honest and tell them the real situation, and they will respect you far more for it and are more likely to understand the decisions that are being made.