Impatient and Entitled: Why You Need Strong Millennials in Your
By Joanne G.
Retail manager Sonia DeSilva finds it increasingly
frustrating to manage her youngest employees. She complains that the
Millennials who work for her store, “continually show up late for
work, ask to leave early, always turn down overtime requests and
wonder why they haven’t been promoted after just one year on the
job.” She’s not alone in her concerns.
As the Millennial generation begins to enter the workplace
they are bringing a new set of skills and a different kind of work
ethic than previous generations. They’re already ‘shaking up’ the
organizations that have hired them and will have a profound impact
over the next five years. In the US alone there will be more than 58
million Millennials employed in various organizations by 2014!
But, will that impact ultimately be productive or disruptive?
Will Millennials continue to frustrate and stymie their supervisors
or will they transform the workplace into a dynamic, creative
environment? To gain some perspective on the answer to those
questions, you have to look at the events and circumstances that
influenced these “Generation Y” employees as they were growing up.
Millennials are the first true “children of technology.” They
grew up with cell phones, smart phones, video games, CDs and DVDs.
Between the “instant” communication of cell phones and the
highly-charged feedback of video games, Millennials are used to a
fast-paced and energy-filled environment. They’ve shaped the
Internet with their enthusiasm for social “networking” through
Facebook, MySpace and Twitter. They’ve also turned instant messaging
and texting into a new form of communication, complete with a new
vocabulary (“Thx 4 the msg, C U L8R 2nite”).
Given their obsession with technology it’s understandable
that Millennials often seem impatient to other generations. Their
preferences for texting and instant messaging frequently frustrate
others, who may be more used to email and voicemail.
Perhaps no previous generation has received as much positive
feedback and encouragement as Generation Y. Millennials are used to
receiving a great deal of positive feedback from parents and
teachers, and they expect to continue receiving that type of support
on the job. Millennials are also far more oriented to teamwork and
collaboration than previous generations. Millennials are used to
doing things in groups, whether in team sports, school projects or
group “dates.” Some have likened this trend to a type of “herding”
behavior unique to Millennials, but it’s certainly indicative of a
“team” mentality that’s important to this generation.
Finally, you cannot understand the Millennials unless you
grasp the phenomenon of “helicopter parents,” obsessive people
who’re known for making major decisions for their children,
completing school projects and even doing their homework. Even
following graduation helicopter parents will accompany their “trophy
kids” to job fairs, employment interviews, and even new employee
Has all of this attention spoiled numerous members of the
Millennial generation? Perhaps. But we also have to recognize that
Millennials enjoyed a much closer relationship with their parents
than Boomers did with their parents. This bodes well for
those managing a multi-generational workforce, because it suggests
that Millennials won’t see Boomers as “the enemy” and will be able
to forge close relationships with co-workers.
So, what does an organization stand to gain by hiring and
developing Millennial employees? Plenty, as it turns out. Many
organizations are learning that Millennials bring a new energy to
the workplace. Managing Millennials may require supervisors to take
a different approach, but the payoff should be well worth the
Millennials are very task-focused when instructed clearly.
Plus, their grasp of technology can make them highly efficient. Once
you make sure they understand the mission before them you can
generally count on Millennials to deliver. When an employer creates
the kind of culture in which Millennials flourish – fast paced and
energetic – all employees tend to benefit from that
Their strong grasp of technology also makes Millennials
natural mentors for other generations. Lets face it … some Boomers
have taken to technology only grudgingly. Generation Y employees may
well be able to raise the level of expectations and expertise
regarding technology, helping more mature workers to really leverage
Besides, those businesses that are focused upon capturing
younger customers have little choice but to recruit and train
Millennials. Who better to “speak the language” of Millennials and
relate to their needs? Likewise, if you are looking to recruit
younger employees to your organization you’ll want Millennials to be
part of that effort, for the same reason.
So, what can managers do to attract, retain and train
Millennials to their organizations?
Make expectations “crystal clear”
–Boomer managers shouldn’t sit back and wait for their younger
employees to “get it.” Make sure Millennials understand what’s
expected of them and set concrete goals. They’ll appreciate the
clarity and they won’t want to disappoint you.
Provide plenty of feedback
– It’s not really handholding to compliment your Millennials on
a job well down, however minor the task may be. They thrive on
that type of feedback and will work harder for you when they
Switch it up – Give your Millennial employees a chance to tackle new
responsibilities and special projects. The experience will help
“round them out” and give them a feeling of contribution. It’s a
great way to build loyalty among a group of employees who aren’t
necessarily known for loyalty. By the way, if they ask for more
money because they are doing more or higher-level work tell them
why they can or cannot have it.
Discuss long-term career plans and goals
– Millennials tend to be very confident and they expect to do
well. This accounts for the sense of entitlement that
Millennials are often accused of possessing. They won’t bide
their time and wait for promised promotions as their parents
did. Let them know what’s required for them to move to the next
level and make sure they feel in control of their own destiny.
Create an environment that is engaging and exciting
– Fresh ideas, new thinking, team challenges, creative
recognition and fun activities all contribute to the type of
atmosphere that energizes Millennials. In the long run all
employees will benefit from the effort.
employees begin to take their places alongside other generations,
the potential for conflict and culture shock may run rampant.
Without doubt, Millennials are going to shake things up and they may
represent a frustrating challenge for supervisors. But look past the
obvious differences and shortcomings, and you’ll find that your
Millennials offer you a chance to create a fresh, more dynamic
workplace culture that promises higher levels of productivity and
Read other articles and learn more about
Joanne G. Sujansky.
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