Millennials are an increasing portion of the workforce in America. But employers aren’t sure quite how to handle millennials in the workplace, and often times they can be misunderstood. They are often viewed as job hoppers (but it might just be because they have a constant fear of being let go), they are viewed as overconfident (but they’ve actually had more experience prior to graduation than any previous generation) and employers have a hard time helping them reach their full potential.
Fast Company has offers strategies to help millennials in the workplace in their article, How to Bridge the Gap Between Potential and Performance.
Here are my top three:
- Exude Mutual Relationship Value: Yes, millennials need to generate revenue and help the company meet goals, while they meet their own performance goals. However, if you want to motivate millennials to their full potential, show them that their employer and manager will invest in them if they invest themselves in work. This motivates better performance, higher efficiency and long-term employer loyalty. Pair this relationship value with hard results
- When Expectations Aren’t Met, Have the Tough Conversation: Employers should have high expectations of even their most junior employees. If employees aren’t meeting these expectations harsh feedback can and should be given to help get that employee on the right track. However, positioning that feedback is critical to a successful outcome for all parties. Especially with millennials who can be more sensitive to professional feedback, keep the conversation in context of high expectations. There is a lot expected of them, and they should know that as long as they “right their ship” they can adjust their performance to meet those expectations.
- Teach Soft Skills: Interpersonal skills are a dying art and professional practice. Millenials have grown up in an environment where they were often more focused on their GPA than their etiquette, trying to get ahead harder than doing so nicely. The importance of soft skills like eye contact, positivity, collaboration and honest communication in the workforce may be something you as a manager need to teach or tweak about a millennial in the workplace. However the ROI of making those small changes and mentoring your junior level peers pays off in dividends.
Millennials are a tough population but invest in them and they will invest right back in your business. They work hard and have the “right stuff,” it just may need to be finessed and trusted. Grooming young employees is mutually beneficial to both the employees and the mid-level management who are doing the grooming.