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Millennials – The New Employment Pool

SOFT SKILLS MATTER)

Whether we like it or not, our new employment pool is mostly Millennials and so if we are going to be able to manage them effectively and leverage the skills they bring to the workplace, we need to understand their needs, concerns, and advantages.

“Technically, a Millennial is someone born between 1980 and 2000.”

Certain characteristics seem to define a Millennial: openness, expressiveness, confidence, and liberal thinking.   There is also another point of view about this generation: they are narcissistic, entitled, lazy, coddled, and even a bit delusional. In addition, by and large, their expectations are rather unrealistic and so often get discouraged when things do not turn out as they expected or hoped. This generally has to do with how they have been raised….everything they have done they believe is terrific and they have been told over and over that they can do whatever they wish. This repetition of reward and compliments has also become their expectation and organizations that do not recognize this and manage it effectively will experience turn over from this group.

All of this makes them a bit challenging to manage, however they do have gifts that can be leveraged and so if you want to experience the advantages of those gifts and approaches, you must find the means to handle them appropriately so that you can keep them happy, productive, and creatively contributing to your organization.

Here are some tips to consider when dealing with this generation of individuals.

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  1. You need to be the leader. This generation has grown up with structure and supervision, with parents who were their role models. Millennials desire leaders with honesty and integrity, because they expect a good role model. This means that you must be able to communicate with clarity, honesty, impact and influence as well as “walk the walk” not just “talk the talk.”
  2. Challenge me. Millennials want learning opportunities. They want to be assigned to projects that challenge them in new directions so the work will help them to learn new strategies, skills, and approaches. They are looking for growth, development, and a clear career path. The best way to approach this need is to offer supportive and encouraging coaching in areas where you see potential. In addition, either in-house or outside training would certainly be welcomed. Be sure to reward results and comment on progress as this is very important to Millennials.
  3. Let me work on a team with friends. Millennials want to work with people they can relate to. They like being friends with their co-workers. Employers who provide social aspects of work will find their efforts well rewarded by this newest cohort. Some companies are even interviewing and hiring groups of friends to satisfy this desire. They also really enjoy working in teams. They want to be involved and ultimately share their experiences as widely as possible. Organizations that value teamwork and seek to instill a spirit of advocacy for their brands, can definitely learn from their Millennials in this area.
  4. Let’s have fun. Millennials enjoy a little humor, a bit of silliness, even a little irreverence in their work environment. So if you can allow and provide for this, it will make your organization more attractive to them. In any event, a fun workplace can be inviting to more than just the Millennials, happy employees are more efficient and creative and sick less often, too.
  5. Respect me. Millennials want to have their ideas treated respectfully. Even though they may be young and new, their perspective should be listened to and considered when offered. Who knows, they could provide some insightful and innovative contributions that you might not want to miss.
  6. Be flexible. Millennials are loathe to give up their various activities just because of work responsibilities. Therefore, a rigid schedule is a sure-fire way to lose them. Better, if possible, to offer them the opportunity to work remotely, or a come in early/stay later option , as long as they fulfill their obligations and their time lines, you should not be concerned about when or how they actually accomplish their tasks.
  7. Culture is critical. Millennials are collaborative and relationship heavy, so the workplace culture plays a large role in their decision to accept a position.  Millennials are notorious for leaving a company because of a lack of cultural fit. So, when managing Millennials, you can prevent this turnover by communicating with clarity, and building trusting relationships with them. You can try to do this by identifying a common interest in such areas as sports teams, hometown, university, hobbies, food, or pets.
  8. They are restless: Millennials want to see growth and immediate results. This impatience pushes them to achieve more by working smarter, not necessarily harder. They are doers and like to get things done. Don’t expect them to stay too long if you aren’t fulfilling promises. They want to be shown that they matter, and that what they are doing counts. They want to be part of the bigger picture. This knowledge will motivate them to work harder.
  1. Embrace Innovation. Millennials are equipped with fresh, current capabilities and are driven to innovate and make an impact. In order to leverage this strength, you want to develop a strategy for managing Millennials around these tips, so that you can ensure their engagement and creativity is encouraged and then you will reap the benefits of their expertise and unique perspective.[/message][su_spacer]

At first blush it might seem like a lot of hard work to hire and keep Millennials, however in the end, they are likely worth the investment. In their rush to achieve personal greatness, they can prove to be a good choice for any company. The best part about them is that they are dreamers and creators, and they truly believe that nothing is impossible!

Sandy Chernoffhttp://softskillsforsuccess.com/
SANDY'S 30 years of didactic and clinical teaching in study clubs and continuing dental education, coupled with her almost 40 years of Dental Hygiene practice bring a wealth of experience to her interactive soft skills workshops. With her education background she easily customizes interactive sessions to suit the specific needs of her clients. Her energetic and humorous presentation style has entertained and informed audiences from Victoria to New York City. Sandy’s client list includes law firms, teaching institutions, volunteer and professional organizations and conferences, businesses, and individuals. Her newest project is turning her live workshops into e-learning programs using an LMS platform. Her teaching and education background have helped her to produce meaningful and somewhat interactive courses for the learners wanting the convenience of e-learning options. As the author of 5 Secrets to Effective Communication, Sandy has demonstrated her ability to demystify the complexities of communication so that the reader can learn better strategies and approaches which will greatly improve their communication skills and ultimately reduce conflict, resentment, disappointment, complaining, and confusion. As a result, the reader will be able to increase productivity, efficiency and creativity, improve all the relationships in their lives and ultimately enjoy a happier, healthier existence! Sandy blogs regularly on her two websites on the various soft skills topics that are featured in her workshops and e-learning programs.

13 COMMENTS

  1. When millennials enter the work place, some get a rude awakening. There are many I run into that want respect without earning it. At one of my clients, the marketing officer was really excited to meet the new mobile device team. We were a key component to the digital strategy. We all showed up to the conference room and the executive was there standing with open arms about how glad he was to meet us all. This initiative was very important to him. The entire team except for myself was a team of millennials. And each millennial was there looking down at their device and clicking away. The executive was confused and was being to get a little ticked. The millennials didn’t even notice.

    Then there was that long awkward silence.

    To get the meeting back on track, I knocked my fist on the table like a gavel. That got them all off their devices. I apologized for the disruption, restated what the executive said and asked very nicely if the executive would continue.

    The strongest frictions I see is that there are quite a few millennials that believe that people should respect their feelings and their ideas when they haven’t really done anything to deserve that respect. Respect works both ways.

    People talk about we need to change our environment for the millennials. Change doesn’t work that way. For change to happen, all parties involved needs to change.

    Please note not all millennials act this way. I groom those into leaders.

    • Once again, some very wise advice, Chris….I agree with you that not all Millennials are problematic and certainly some can be trained to be better employees…..but only if they really want to be. Those who do not embrace the way the business world works are going to have a hard time out there. They are usually pretty smart, though and if we can hold their attention long enough we do have a good chance for helping them change appropriately so that we can all win!

  2. John: I agree that every company should treat their employees as individuals, no matter the age grouping, and those that don’t suffer from a lack of employee engagement.

    Sandy: One of the expectations/demands of this young group is for flexible schedules and the right to work from home so as to avoid work infringing on their play time. The vast majority of jobs simply can not be structured to accommodate those desires. The retail, service industries, and most manufacturing require a physical presence at specific times. A dental technician can hardly clean your teeth when she is home or during hours when the office is closed. The bottom line is there are not enough “flex time” jobs to accommodate the entire generation. Then we go back to accepting responsibility. When one takes a job and takes an employer’s money then the employee has some responsibility to perform as the employer requests, not always as the employee prefers.

    • Again, you are correct…..I guess in the end, it boils down to the fact that we have to teach them more about the “real world” so that they can be successful. If they do not comply, then yes, we cannot afford to keep them. However, it does not mean that they cannot learn to be accountable and a bit less flexible regarding their “me time.” Not all Millennials are problematic, however many do not understand the expectations they need to fulfill if they are going to remain gainfully employed. I believe many of them are “trainable”.

      • Shouldn’t they have been taught accountability and responsibility before they got out of school? I find the percent of “trainable/salvageable” of this group are the older ones…those born 1980-85.

        • Perhaps, but I do not think those sorts of skills are taught in school….they probably should but few professional or vocational programs teach any soft skills, so I would not expect high schools to do it. Personally I have given a few workshops to high school students and had teachers & parents thank me.

  3. If I had to pick a single issue that much of management has with them it is their lack of taking personal responsibility. You note that too. They simply want all the accolades and pats on the head without taking any responsibility for their actions or lack there of.

    They often want a trophy for just showing up. The real world doesn’t work like that even if little league does.

    • I totally agree with you, Ken, however this is a result of the parenting they have had, when they are always told that everything they do is fantastic. Again, these young people definitely have skills and perspectives to offer, we just have to abide by the best ways to manage them effectively so that we can leverage their gifts and get around their drawbacks….we need patience & tolerance to do it!

  4. In short, and as a group, they are high maintenance. Not all industries, companies or top management are willing, or even able to deal with that. One of the problems is their conflicting expectations. They want to work as teams of friends, yet each wants individual recognition. When a team succeeds the accolades go to the team, not usually to an individual. They bring all their “wants, needs, and demands” to the table with little or no experience to trade for them.

    Consequently they often come across as spoiled brats. So many living in their parent’s basements is not all about the poor job market. There are a lot of jobs out there, but they don’t come with flex time, or working from home.

    • Hi Ken,
      There is no question that their expectations are a bit different from most of us….does not mean they are all like that and I think gaining their trust and respect can go a long way toward helping them to see your point of view (which I happen to share with you).

      My experience with them was when I was teaching in a Dental Hygiene program. Not only was I required to upload the class notes for them before my class, (did your profs do that for you?) but I had to provide a grading rubric (outline) for each project so that they knew just what should be included. Even so, few read it, so complained when they did not receive as high a mark as expected. When I pointed out that certain required elements were not included, they then had their parents call and complain. After that it was a call from a lawyer to the school complaining that the instructors were not doing their job. Really is there no accountability for students any more? Our fall back position was that each student was assigned a mentor who was available to help them with any problems, in addition we had regulations set out by the government regarding curriculum requirements and levels of achievement which had to be met in order to protect the public once they graduated.
      There is no question that the entitlement issue is a problem, however, in the end, most of the students did get the picture and started reading their outlines and doing better. Especially when they realized we really were on their side and wanted them to do well. Many are still in touch with me, either through our professional organization or via LinkedIn groups.

      We need to employ patience, and offer support and encouragement to guide them toward higher achievement so that we can leverage their gifts. This is not an easy task, but if the individual shows potential, it would be a shame to lose them.

  5. Sandy, I guess millennials have something in common with us boomers, such as getting increasingly annoyed that we are lumped together into a single category – and treated homogeneously.

    As a boomer – I see myself as open, expressive, confident, and liberal in my thinking. I also have my narcissistic moments – and the crass assumptions of the establishment (which is generally managed by boomers) that the media writes about every day suggests to me that *we* (since we are homogenous and not individuals) are indeed entitled, lazy, coddled and definitely delusional.

    One change of behavior that would help its all would be to treat people as people – and not as a ‘pool’ – ready for the corporation to exploit.

    I think you will then find that the list of 9 will work with other ‘gens’ .. including Boomers. I certainly want to have fun – it’s just that we are emerging from a world where the corporation has generally crushed the spirit of their employees – which in turn has likely affected how our children – the millennials – feel about the world we live in.

    #PeoplePower :- )

    • Hi John,
      You are absolutely correct…..it is stereotyping and of course everyone is different and should be dealt with accordingly. Just like raising kids, just because they are yours does not mean they should be dealt with in the same way as each one reacts to situations differently. We definitely need to try to get to know people and then we can manage them and work with them more effectively. That is the role of a good manager or leader….get to know your people so you can leverage their gifts and find ways around their drawbacks. Keep having fun!! 🙂

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