How A Manager Can Love Working With Millennials

February 15, 2016

There’s often a lot of chatter about how to effectively manage younger generations such as the Millennial generation. How do you work with them? What do they want? What drives them? What makes them so different from anyone else you’ve hired and worked with?

Let me say that I’ve reached a point in my career where I don’t fear, question or dread the idea of hiring a Millennial at all. In fact, I love working with Millennials. You may be wondering how you could possibly embrace and maximize the opportunities that this generation brings to your organization and subsequently your company’s culture.

Are Millennials frustrating at times? Absolutely. They can be (although I think you could say that for certain people of any generation, really). Yet, if you can stay open-minded and appreciate the nuances of Millennials in the workplace, you’ll find it worthwhile to make a concerted effort to understand what drives them.

-They want responsibility and to be included.

Some managers believe that Millennials won’t do anything unless they’re explicitly told. However, with the staff members I’ve worked with, it’s clear they want opportunity and to have an influence on the direction of the company. Plus, by nature, they’re very comfortable with technology. So if someone on your team has the ambition and initiative to contribute, why wouldn’t you explore that?

-Don’t babysit them. Treat them like adults.

The Old School method is to say, “Listen to me because I’m going to teach you everything.” The New School method is to explain, observe, let them do their work, review and mentor. I’ll provide a lot of explanation as to why we’re going in a certain direction and what my goals are – but then I’ll give you the full trust and freedom to do your job. With that structure in place, it’s not unusual for one of the new hires on our team at GForce to be given significant responsibilities in their first few weeks.

It’s my job to be a mentor to a young professional. When I share my point of view, it comes from over 20 years of experience. I will stop them and say,

“ OK, let me explain this. It’s a learning opportunity.”

We’ll often bring in professionals in other fields from time to time for mentoring. But it’s always about learning. Never hovering or lecturing.

Provide an entrepreneurial environment of safety.

An “everybody does everything” environment caters very well to an ambitious, young employee who craves opportunity, responsibility and inclusion. You also need to provide some degree of latitude to make mistakes (within reason). It calls for an entrepreneurial-minded culture that is open to new ideas. Be candid and talk about the good, the bad and the ugly. What did we learn from our mistakes so we can do it differently and better next time?

All the while, give them the liberty to find solutions to business challenges on their own. Not only will they likely pick up new concepts quickly, but they’ll often surprise you with shorter and more efficient ways of doing things.

Authenticity matters to them – in other words, be yourself.

For many years, I thought I had to act a certain way because I was a manager. But I wasn’t being true to myself. When I let my own personal guard down, I found it fulfilling for both myself and my team.

That’s because Millennials want someone who is authentic and enjoyable to be around. They don’t need you to be their best friend. They want a captain on the bridge they can relate to and who understands where they’re coming from. They need to know your door is always open to listen to their challenges as well as your goals.

If you’re a mentor and not just a manager, this is a natural role for you. And if that means being humble and sharing some of your own mistakes you’ve made in the past to help them learn today, so be it.

Show them your company occasionally “lets its hair down”

It’s important to have the right chemistry, a culture where people believe they can have fun in between the seriousness. At GForce, it goes beyond qualifications when we consider bringing someone on board. The criteria for being here is enjoying each other’s company.

Case in point: When the Cubs made the playoffs, I bought tickets for a game because I wanted my team to see potential history in the making. The things you do outside the office as a team can speak to how much you care and enjoy each other’s company. That applies to a lot of different folks, but Millennials surely appreciate it as much as anybody.

Don’t keep them completely in the dark on the future.

While you don’t have to tell them everything, paint them a picture of what’s going to happen down the road if your plans come to fruition. They want to envision a tomorrow where they can stay challenged and things don’t become mundane. Let them be a part of the vision.

A cultural match matters. Now more than ever.

Staffing isn’t just about finding a fit based on qualifications. It’s also very much about identifying a true match based on company culture. At GForce Staffing Services, it’s why we invest in top-of-the-line technology and a rigorous process to connect hiring managers with resources made for that company’s environment.

Whether you’re looking for a single solution or an entire division, feel the power of GForce going to work for you by calling 312.424.0500 or emailing [email protected].