7 tips for managing Millennials and younger employees

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A few of us were at a mentoring event at the Nashville City Club recently where how to manage the younger generation of employees came up.

One very successful (middle aged) businessman, as an aside and half in jest, complained: “I am old enough that I want them to do things my way. Or go work somewhere else. Period.”

He’s very successful because he knows better – or is learning. That attitude is so last century. Businesses can adopt it but they’ll lose top talent, potential thought leaders and future industry giants. Managing Millennials is different – just as managing the generation in grade school will be a decade from now.

The biggest difference, of course, is that younger workers want to know why. Treat them like stakeholders with something to offer rather than toddlers with annoying questions.

A few other suggestions:

Involve them in decisions. Shared decision-making makes getting buy-in easier regardless of age for Millennials it’s vital. Employees who feel they are heard, even on little stuff like what’s in the vending machines, help create an environment they like.

life work balance

This is not the balance Millennials are looking for.

Respect work-life balance. Younger workers watched their parents give everything to their jobs and, in many cases, lose them anyway. They remember how parents missed ball games, school plays, never seemed happy and always seemed tired. For them, work is part of life and does not define it.

Make work stimulating and valuable. Sure, nearly every company has important work that seems mundane. It doesn’t mean the people tasked with it are mundane or lack creativity or don’t appreciate praise and encouragement.

Manage, don’t dictate. Coaching and mentoring are in. Dictating and directives are out. One recent Gallup survey found an employee’s relationship with the boss is more directly linked to retention than pay or perks.

Provide growth opportunities. Younger workers want to learn more. Because they don’t stay in the same job or company for 20 or more years like their parents, younger workers will stick around when their employer provides training and career development.

Money isn’t everything. In one survey of food companies, 92 percent of respondents said a $10,000 annual salary increase would not prompt them to change employers if their current jobs offered personal and professional development coaching.

Flexibility is priceless. True, a hoodie in some work environments is vastly inappropriate, but tomorrow’s leaders aren’t clones. They value their individuality, so think about schedules, telecommuting, benefits and flex time. The company that does builds loyalty and improves retention.

We “get” these “kids” – who, by the way, already are moving into management. We’re only a phone call away: 615-399-5101.

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