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Nurturing And Managing Millennials

Don't teach them but help them learn!

Millennials, also known as Generation Y, are a dynamic and talented generation. They are taking over the workforce, but have workplaces changed enough to accommodate their needs?

Advances in technology mean that Millennials needs vastly differ from previous generations. They require a distinct managerial style and culture in order to thrive. They want to be part of an exciting and creative work culture in an evolving environment where fresh ideas are supported and encouraged.

With Millennials placing a greater emphasis on their personal needs and values, companies need to address that offering purely a financial reward is not as important as a good work-life balance. This generation also has particular expectations when it comes to career development and learning. Despite sometimes being labelled as easily bored and impatient, they are extremely ambitious, forward-thinking and innovative. One of their key expectations is to keep on learning. They are known to spend a high proportion of their time gaining new experiences and absorbing new information.

Millennials expect more engagement with their managers and have a strong desire for feedback and praise. As a result, they value and embrace the opportunity to work with coaches and mentors. Research shows that while they respond well to mentoring by older or more experienced employees, most would like to see their boss as more of a coach, who supports them in their personal development. They generally prefer to learn by doing, than by being told what to do.

This generation feels that rigid corporate structures, hierarchies and traditional outdated management styles fail to excite them. They constantly express that managers do not understand them which can leave them frustrated, anxious and disconnected in the workplace. If they are not happy and feel that the organisation’s values are not aligned to their own, they will look to leave.

Millennials are forward-thinking, innovative, have a ‘can-do’ attitude, are highly ambitious and as a result they ultimately want to make an impact. They will thrive in an environment where they can be challenged and are encouraged to learn and grow. They are motivated by feedback and praise.

It has always been noted that different generations require different styles of management. However, for a millennial audience a coaching management style seems to be far more effective.

Below are a few tips on how to effectively manage Millennials:

  • Provide very regular one-to-one feedback. Early and often is the key. Consider brainstorming and additional session in between projects rather than waiting until the end phase.

  • Look to give them regular praise, either individually or in a team environment. This meets their need to always be learning and growing and also motivates them by giving them a sense of progress.

  • Take notice of their efforts and provide encouragement. You can do this by sharing your own failures, struggles and victories. This shows them that the path to success is not always smooth and can make you appear more approachable.

  • Have a flexible approach, set targets and deadlines but allow them to have the flexibility they desire. Whether they want to work from a coffee shop or home.

  • Be a good listener, foster open communication and ask about their interests and hobbies outside of work. This encourages a good rapport and builds trust.

  • Encourage reverse-mentoring. Some organisations have used this as an effective tool where senior management and a younger employee have been paired so that they can both learn from each another to complement their different styles of working.

  • Explain the companies vision. Make them feel as part of the bigger picture. They feel motivated if they know their work matters and that they are a part of something larger.

In summary, coaching support can help bridge the gap between generations at work and also fulfill the desire for the ongoing personal development that Millennial's desire. Coaching can go a long way to reduce the anxiety, frustration and the impatience that Millennial's encounter. It is not just Millennials that can benefit from coaching, but managers can also develop their leadership and mentoring skills so that they can attract, develop and retain Millennials in their workplace.

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