Much Ado About Managing Millennials
“The idea that those born from 1980 to 2000 are a decidedly different generation, influenced by the age of the Internet and constantly told they are ‘special,’ has been widely embraced and disseminated by the media, and it has saturated our perception of this group’s behaviors when it comes to work. Many leaders have bought into the idea that millennials just aren’t like the rest of us when it comes to what they want in the workplace. But we’ve erred in paying so much attention to the issue of birth year when it comes to managing people. … millennials do differ from baby boomers and gen Xers in that they are, as a group, more highly educated; they are more likely to have more student loan debt; and they were hardest hit during the Great Recession.
… the data shows that millennials, on average, buy their first home at age 31, compared to their gen X counterparts, who bought their first home at 30, and their professional turnover patterns by age group in 2013 mirror that of gen X in 2005. They also found that once millennials fully enter the workforce, their attitudes toward their employers looked similar to those of previous generations …
What the baby boomers or gen X want from their leaders doesn’t strike me as all that different from what millennials are seeking. … these are common threads that can increase engagement and commitment across all age groups:
1. Demonstrate your integrity. Part of the reason that millennials in particular seem dismayed with corporate life is that they don’t trust business leaders to do the right things. … Leaders display character and demonstrate integrity by going well beyond not lying, cheating, or stealing. It’s a more active kind of honesty, and includes dropping corporate-speak, doing what you said you would do, providing direct and candid feedback, and a willingness to share bad news, even when it’s not popular.
2. Connect the vision and mission of the business to the every day, even sometimes-mundane work. … For leaders to inspire and motivate anyone as a means to create loyalty and drive high performance, it’s crucial to establish a connection to the reason we do the work. Gallup Poll data reveals that 70% of U.S. workers are not engaged at work, so clearly employees from every generation want more than only trading time for money. Companies that can create a clear line of sight from the mission of the business toward day-to-day operations will win hearts and minds.
3. Empower people with the ability to make decisions that influence their work. … ‘The problem is that bosses use hierarchy to tell those below them what to do.’ Instead, when leaders focus on results and outcomes, give clear definitions of roles and responsibilities, establish boundaries and provide information required for decision-making, the hierarchy fades in to the background.”