In handling Millenials, older generations often find it hard because they are very complex, exasperating, technology savvy, talk out of turn in meetings, show up late, address the elders by first name-basis, but somehow willing to pull up all-nighters. They decline feedbacks but conform to difficult challenges. Obviously these traits will irk most of us who are not used to them.
This special generation surely don’t know the rule of “My Way or Highway” (take it or leave it) that was iconic back in the days. Being provided with the rapid knowledge and information in their surroundings with only a click away from a mouse, Millenials surely have a tendency to think they are unstoppable, that is why that rule doesn’t apply to them. After all, they are the first generation who have the access to information and knowledge in a wide scale without an authority figure.
Consultants and professors Chip Espinoza, Mick Ukleja and Craig Rusch offer the strategies and tactics by laying out the most suited terms that are used to describe Millenials. Because Millenials have different standpoints about what working is from their predecessors, practice these nine core management competencies to make them work with their highest potential:
1. “Being Flexible with the Free-spirited”
For people who prioritize work-life balance, like most millenials are, as managers, you need to be flexible around them. Because you have different prioritization, where you would abandon your personal life to get your work done and them doing the opposite, it is wise for you to give them a sense of freedom as long as they meet their obligations at work. Flexing is very doable with Millenials so that you can work together toward mutual goals.
2. “Encouraging the Entitled”
Growing up, Millenials received both recognition and appreciation, and they expect the same at work from their higher-ups. However, they don’t like incentives such as program, plaque, or titles. That is why, you should reward them based on their achievements tallied up, in a transparent, fair and timely manner.
3. “Cultivating the Imaginative”
Millenials are imaginative and evocative in expressing oneself. Because of that, managers have to be able to give them the space and time for them to naturally produce and indulge in their own creativity without being disturbed by the organizational policies.
4. “Engaging the Self-Absorbed”
The cause of Millenials tend to be self-absorbed is because of the nurturing method used by their parents in raising them up instead of training them. This makes them expect the same attention and engagement from others, but themselves. While this harms the traditional workplace culture, where one should refrain from building personal relationships with subordinates, Millenials are more likely to be loyal and work much harder for managers whom they like and like them in return.
5. “Disarming the Defensive”
While this apply to all humans, where we have the nature instinct to be defensive when we sense an oppression, Milennials have a lower threshold for this to occur. Remember these seven strategies to disarm their defensiveness whenever it emerges:
- Don’t argue.
- Recognize their emotions, grant their points and honor their competence.
- Rather than bargain over blame, discuss mutual problem solving.
- Avoid embarrassing them or hurting their pride.
- Give them a chance to offer “constructive criticism.”
- Tell them how much you value your work relationship with them.
- There is no “win”; your goal is a more effective workplace.
6. “Self-Differentiating from the Abrasive”
Cockiness is a given for Millenials, however, this shouldn’t affect you to a personal level. Remember that most Millenials are growing up in a different manners from their predecessors. In the past, even looking back to parents was considered as defying them. Millenials, got themselves raised as equals and encouraged to speak up their minds. That is why their attitude, being critical they are but cocky they seem to be, is something that needs to be perceived differently. Managers should be able to separate their professional position from their selfhood to maintain a better equilibrium.
7. “Broadening the Myopic”
The boldness of Millenials produces a flaw for them, which is their lack of awareness about the consequences of their actions. Managers should take advantage of their interest in creative thinking and problem solving to raise this awareness. To put it simply, by listing three approaches to a certain challenge and giving them three possible outcomes to considerate, this will generate scenarios that helps them to connect the dots between their actions and its outcomes.
8. “Directing the Unfocused”
Millenials hold pride in their ability to multitask, which contradicts the reality on what they do at workplace. Because of the inevitable distractions that they are facing (social media, music, drastic mood swing), managers often find it very concerning. On top of that, the difference in your frame of reference hinders you from relying on common sense when you assume that they understood your implicit message.
Millenials need to be directed, and in instructing them you need to:
- Ask clarifying questions.
- Quickly provide feedback in conversation and as per company procedures.
- Let them go do it when you know they know what you want.
- Make sure everyone understands the goals and necessary outcomes.
9. “Motivating the Indifferent”
In motivating Millenials, you need to lay out the values in their work for them. Millenials feel greatly motivated when they find meaning in their work. Appreciate them and tell them directly that they are doing great, and what they do matter for you. The responsibility and role that are given to them will act as their foundation to keep them going.
Espinoza, Chip, et al. Managing the Millennials: Discover the Core Competencies for Managing Today's Workforce. New York, United States: John Wiley & Sons Inc., 2010.