Leading talented people is challenging. Managing Generation Y (‘Millennial’) people – typical those between the ages of 18 and 25 – has many managers frustrated and confused!
From discussions with a wide range of leaders who attend Greenbank programmes they often talk about needing a different approach with the latest generation of team members. One style definitely does not fit all! And given that Millennials will soon make up the largest share of the working population, if you aren’t managing a Millennial person yet, you soon will be….
Based on some latest research – and our own personal experience of a near-Millennial salesperson son! – here are our top 10 tips on how to manage Millennial people successfully.
1. They want feedback in real time
Millennials are used to constant feedback, from social media ‘liking’ to gaming where incorrect strategies can have immediate results…Not unreasonably, they therefore want regular ongoing feedback from their managers, not just a couple of times of year during a performance review. Keep in mind that they have been raised with continuous (usually supportive) feedback from their Generation X parents and teachers. So – they have a desire to know exactly how they are doing at all times in the mind of their manager. Are you doing this – for example either face to face or through real-time dashboards?
2. They ARE money motivated – but there is more to it than that…
It’s easy to assume that Millennials aren’t ‘all about the money’ compared with their 1980s -1990s Generation X predecessors but recent research suggests this isn’t the whole picture. Millennials are money motivated (especially given the rising price of housing in most cities!), but they have other motivations too…. probably linked to the rapidly changing world of technology.
For example, Millennials are more likely than Generation X people to worry about their personal development – they have grown up in a world where then can clearly see that today’s skills and knowledge won’t work tomorrow. So show them and help them build transferable skills they can use in the future as well….
3. On-the-job training
If your training programmes consist of the people sitting in a room and listening to a lecturer or following a non-interactive e-learning course, it is unlikely to be effective. We find that Millennials are very action-oriented – even more so than previous generations – and prefer experiential learning (again think gaming) in other words, doing it rather than reading about it. They are used to learning things rapidly and immediately putting those skills to use.
4. Tell me what to do, not how to do it
Millennials want very clear objectives and want to know specifically what you expect from them. But they do not want to have to follow a rigid process or one way to achieve their goals. On our programmes we find that they just love to try out their skills in short, frequent role-play or real-play situations so that they can come up with their own style that feels authentic to them. Telling them what to say and how to say it feels “fake” and ineffective to them. Think “mentor,” rather than “micro-manager.”
5. They are not necessarily “job jumpers”
While Millennials in general have been tagged as “job jumpers,” that isn’t necessarily the case. A 2012 Vorsight and The Bridge Group research study found that 75% of Millennials answered “yes” to the question, “Do you see yourself at this company in 2 years?” Their study showed that this was the same percentage as Generation X and Boomer respondents. However, you do have to make sure you are discussing career growth with them on a consistent and regular basis to earn this loyalty.
6. They want your job
Yes, Millennials sales are impatient and many feel they should be a Manager or even Director after a year of experience. The key is to channel that ambition to get the most out of them. Use that thirst to challenge them with more and more responsibility. Find additional areas and ways for them to continue to learn new things and grow.
Millennials are about “fairness,” not “seniority.” They do not believe in “paying dues” or ‘time serving’ to get advancement, rather, they expect their skills and performance to merit promotion. So let them know exactly what is expected of them in order to move up and advance in the company.
7. They are risk averse
We continually hear about Millennials and how they are natural entrepreneurs. This doesn’t mean however, that they are natural risk takers – many are actually risk averse. This probably stems from having ‘helicopter’ parents to catch them when they fall (or even before they fall!) and also from seeing the effects recession on their parents. For instance this generation of sales professionals tends NOT to be comfortable with commission-only compensation. They want a base so that they know their basic expenses are covered.
8. Reward me
Remember that this is the “Trophy Generation” that has been raised (in some parts of the world at least) on being rewarded just for participating. Money is therefore not enough. Millennials respond to rewards that are personalised – a day extra vacation – or a later start in the morning might be even more valuable than cash. Some creativity may be needed here. We know of call centres where reaching a certain target is rewarded with time away from the phone for gaming. Or you can choose to reward them by boosting their visibility within the company to help them become more marketable internally rather than externally.
9. Build the relationship
Millennials want to have a strong relationship with their manager. They want to look to their boss as a mentor and someone who is genuinely interested in them as a person and the success of their career. You have to be available to them and build trust. Yes, they are digital natives, but they need face-to-face contact, not just emails.
10. Listen to me
Your Millennial team members are likely to be collaborative by nature. So they expect that their ideas and input are being listened to and valued. So ask for their opinions and feedback regularly. Organisations who take this seriously also leverage the digital experience of their Millennials through reverse mentoring schemes – an initiative in which older executives are paired with and mentored by younger employees on topics such as technology, social media and current trends.
Of course, the best way to know exactly what your Millennial people want is to ask them! Take the time to find out their expectations, motivations, and career aspirations, and you’ll be well on your way to successfully managing your talented young people and harnessing all the energy and talent they can bring to your business.
Find out how we can help develop your leadership ability, drive sales growth and achieve your business goals.Get in touch