Ah, Millennials. This generation may be the most broadly stereotyped, yet often misunderstood. As managers, we may be Millennials ourselves trying to figure out how to manage and build relationships with older peers, or we may be struggling with how to manage this unusual cohort which seems to “know everything,” and “demand autonomy.” What is really going on with Millennials and what does it mean for managing every generation in the workplace?
This week’s guest is Lee Caraher is the CEO of Double Forte PR & Digital Marketing; she’s known for her practical solutions to big problems. Lee’s the author of Millennials & Management based on her experience with failing and then succeeding at retaining Millennials. Her second book, The Boomerang Principle: Inspire lifetime loyalty from your employees, was published in April 2017.
Lee and I talk about various cohorts of Millenials, the experiences of Gen-Xers and Boomers in the workplace, how to manage new graduates who are just entering the workforce, and management practices that work for everyone, whether you’re a young manager with older team members or an older team member with a younger manager.
Read the related blog article: Successfully Manage Millennials and Other Generations in the Workplace
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- The term Millennial technically only tells you what age cohort they belong to. Pew Research says that a millennial was born between 1980 and 1997.
- There are three cohorts of Millennials that are grouped based on what was happening in the world when they were young. (1) The oldest group which joined the workforce shortly after 9/11 and grew up with minimal technology; (2) The middle group which entered the workforce in the late 2000s which was the same time that work was becoming digital; and (3) The youngest group which learned with iPads in the classrooms and grew up as digital natives.
- One challenge recent graduates face in the workplace is the experience, often for the first time, of being told their work isn’t “A+” and that they have to do it again. In a schooling environment, the directions are typically very clear on how to get an A+ and rarely do you re-do work once it’s done, even if it’s only B+ work.
- Set expectations for a new hire right from the start. Be clear that you want them to spend the first 30-60 days getting to know the job and doing the work “your way” and then you want to hear their ideas for how to improve it.
- Be clear about deadlines – the day, date, time and timezone. This eliminates ambiguity and decreases frustration within a team.
- Each generation has its own expectations of work, behavior, access and opportunity.
- It can be emotionally hard for Boomers and Gen-Xers to have fought for greater rights in the workplace for decades to now see Millennials and Gen-Zers “waltz in” and express a sense of deserving of these rights.
- Millennials want the same things as other generations, they’re simply willing to be vocal about it from a younger age. When you address the needs of Millennials, you can address everyone’s needs.
- Be clear about your company purpose and values, clarify and engage people in defining projects and what success looks like, be explicit about roles and expectations.
- Gather input from those around you who are closer to the work. Synthesize and make decision, and share the decisions with context for why this was decided. Without context, the team will never stay aligned.
- A boss that is younger than you is no different from any other boss. They’re not a child, they could be great or terrible regardless of their age. If it makes you uncomfortable to have a younger boss, talk to them about it. Let them know you have a lot to offer based on your years of experience and that you hope to learn from them too.
- As a manager of any age, you will be measured on the contribution of those around you, not necessarily your own performance on the owned tasks that you have.
- Your job as a manager is to understand the people on your team: what motivates them, what they hope to get out of a project, what their career goals are, and then outline how you can help them do that through the work, and then also to guide the team on the rules of engagement and behaviors you’re going to tolerate and not tolerate.
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