Who are Millennials? Anyone who is born between 1980 – 2000 is known to fit into this classification. Are you working with them? Of course you are! According to Charles Day from Lookingglass, about 60 % of the workforce comprises them. How difficult or easy it could be to work with them? How are they different from any one of us?
Some of the formed ‘opinions’ about Millennials at work basis individual experiences are:
- Millennials are called trophy generation. They expect high grades for very little effort, just for showing up.
- You may find them expecting, promotions, monetary benefits every 2 years or faster.
- Millennials are more interested in knowing what the organization can do for them before proving, what they can do for the organization.
- You may find them asking early questions about hikes, promotions, leaves and other benefits. They are direct, upfront and fearless. They are known to work on clear terms.
- You may mostly find them super enthusiastic about sharing ideas on changing most of the things around them on day 1 of their job but when it comes to implementation, there could be slack observed.
- Millennials are Informal and are often not a constraint with the old-fashioned ways of doing things.
- They demonstrate an unprecedented level of self – infatuation hence, is seen to be self- involved. In other words, they are also called the 'Me Me Me' generation.
- Most of them are hungry for instant gratification and need virtual affirmation such as ‘likes’/ ‘comments’ on everything that they do in their lives. Therefore, if their efforts are not given instant feedback their motivation goes down.
- They could be seen as super lazy. Unless there is a push from the environment they may not move fast with tasks.
- Millennials hate processes that involve wait time and try to find their own ways of speeding up things for their benefit.
- You may find them glued to their small screens more than focusing on the person physically present. Therefore, some of them may find launching a relationship, very challenging.
On the contrary, according to a survey conducted by Deloitte on about 8000 millennials across 30 countries, about 31% of the Millennials stayed back in their organization for 5+ years in the year 2017 with a desire for certainty. Unfortunately, their long stay was perceived as low levels of confidence by the Managers.
Considering these opinions and research results, we may want to ask ourselves, are Millennials as different as they are perceived or there is a witnessed difference between them and other generations? While some opinions about them could be true due t the availability of technology, some of them could be just the way they are seen or expected to behave. Some of these behaviors could simply be a part of being younger people.
The good news is; like any other generation, Millennials can show the strength of being excellent contributors to their organizations today and in future. Hence, irrespective of any generation we associate ourselves with, working with Millennials can be very easy if we could follow a few tips while we interact with them. Here are 5 of them:
- Mirror their energy: A Millennial’s ideas could be brilliant at times and not feasible sometimes as well, but they mostly look for your interest in what they are saying. Ask them constructive questions until they complete the journey from articulating an idea and implementing it for good results. If you do not reciprocate to their energy, their motivation may show a downward trend. So, when they are super excited about sharing an idea, listen to them with similar spark in your eyes that you see in theirs.
- Understand their motivation: Instead of going on a tell mode, be more on an ask mode with a Millennial, as it brings out the best in them. Fortunately, there are wise leaders who start their conversation with a millennial by asking questions like: What interests you the most? What excites you in a job? What would retain you in this job? How would you contribute and add value to the organization? How can I support you in achieving what you want to in the organization? These questions can make anyone feel important wanting to contribute more for someone who cares about them.
- Compliment confidence with competence: While you may observe a reasonably higher confidence among Millennials, it is imperative that this confidence is channelized well by complimenting it with their competence. After you find out what excites them and what they are good at, make use of their know-how through methods like reverse mentoring where A Millennial mentors a Gen X (Born between 1965 – 1979) or Baby boomer (Born between 1946-1964) on things like technology, design, social media etc. This may make the Millennials feel empowered and bring out the best in them.
- Articulate high expectations: Millennials love to be challenged with targets that are slightly stretched. Work with them, support them but do not lower your expectations from them as they may feel not valued to the best of their potential until they are intellectually challenged. Making targets slightly challenging raises their confidence to do more with less, faster and quicker.
- Enable autonomy: While you raise your expectations for a Millennial, praise them with some independence and unconventionality. This multiplies their self-assurance and they are more prepared to take risks without fear of failure. Enabling experiential learning and giving them autonomy does ensure their preparedness to face success and defeat with ease.
Millennials: The generation shaping our future want to make a difference and impact. And, this is possible only if we progress our approach towards them. Hence, I invite all generations to believe, that with a little effort, Millennials, also called Gen Ys, can be excellent contributors today and in the years to come.
(Disclaimer: “The views expressed in this article are mine and my employer does not subscribe to the substance or veracity of my views”)