The things that come to mind first when you hear the word millennial are generally: A bunch of highly individualistic people who are unconventional, need some sort of inspiration to drive them constantly, love people and collaborating with them, and don’t like to be restricted by boundaries. Millennial’s are overly sensitive folk, they empathize. It has been researched that by the year 2025, millennial’s will constitute nearly 75% of the entire world’s population! So to work with them, managers will have to adapt accordingly to their strong characteristics and work ethos.
The term ‘Millennial’ refers to people from the age group of 22 to 37 born between 1981 to 1996, and the previous generation referred to as the Generation X constitutes people from age group 35-50 born between the years 1965-1980.
John o’Leary who interviewed top business leaders for the Harvard Business Review came to the conclusion that millennial’s as individuals look for respect, mentor-ship, collaboration and professional development in their lives. Their approach a far cry from the top-down management approach of Gen X.
Let’s see what makes millennial’s different from the previous generation.
Approach to Learning
Millennial’s favor internet based learning rather than the primitive classroom approach. They try to seek knowledge from more creative mediums and look for answers on Google, YouTube and such platforms. Their approach to learning is more through unique and interactive ways rather than attending long classroom sessions. Millennial’s grew up during the boom of social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Skype, and these have become an integral part of their lifestyles.
Millennial’s are curious and always willing to learn different aspects of their job resulting in loss of interest in stagnant work environments. This generally leads to job-hopping within a span of 2-5 years. This is a stark difference between the previous generations which customarily stayed on in a company for their entire working lifetime, leaving them redundant as they did the same thing for years at end. A survey conducted by Gallup discovered that half of the millennial’s believed that they might not be working for their company in 1 years time from now whereas almost 60% of the non-millennial’s would continue to work for at-least 1 year. The only way to retain the millennial workforce is for the leaders to effectively learn how to manage them.
Empowerment rather than management
The biggest difference between the previous generation and millennial’s is in the way they expect to be lead. Millennial’s need to be respected and given authority, they need the opportunity to be leaders in their specific roles. Hence they prefer empowerment rather than management. They work to their full potential when given the authority and space without much restrictions. Managers need to take this into consideration and ensure that the millennial’s are given this opportunity while making sure they have a safe place for failure. As the author Craig Groeschel said “If you delegate tasks, you create followers. If you delegate authority, you create leaders”. By empowering them, millennial’s can be lead to become great employees and greater leaders.
Millennial’s tend to see the bigger picture and work and work towards a goal that is part of something big. They want to know that they are making a contribution to the world with their work. While growing up, they have always been appreciated for all their achievements in school and college. They appreciate being acknowledged for their efforts. Millennial’s wish to be reassured that their efforts have meaning and are making a difference to the world. Regular feedback is what keeps millennial’s motivated.
Importance of balance between work and professional life
Research by Pew Center shows that millennial’s prefer quality of life. They prioritize their family, marriage and time with kids. Millennial’s are achievers and don’t like to be confined with 9-6 day jobs, they much prefer working freelance. Millennial’s wish to take ownership of their work! They prefer flexible working hours and paid vacations which is very unlike the previous generation who believed in long working sessions. Millennial’s prefer having a healthy work–life balance and prioritize health and family.
Money is secondary
Millennial’s aren’t squarely focused on the monetary compensation and enjoy other things that come with the job – like meeting new people, interesting work roles, and a flexible and relaxed working environment. Although they do care about the monetary aspect, but it is not the primary driver for them. They are more attracted to the cross-functional roles and executive positions that make an impact to the world. Since the millennial’s like learning from and working alongside interesting people, they aren’t interested in vertical promotions. They crave for interesting experiences from their career paths.
How to lead millennial’s
Millennial’s prefer counselling and mentoring leaders rather than bosses. They wish for collaborative work where they regard the boss as a team mentor rather than a team captain. So, leaders must be open to learning as well and not just leading. Keeping the communication lines open with the millennial employees proves incredibly beneficial. Millennial’s need to be lead not from a sense of leadership but from a sense of service for they constantly seek for guidance and feedback from their managers. In case, they don’t receive such treatment, they are quick to move someplace else.
Millennial’s are incredibly good at promoting themselves publicly. To nurture that skill it’s beneficial to expose them to job fairs, branding and marketing groups etc. They have the prowess to use their personal experiences and promote them as powerful marketing tools. Leaders need to be able to identify such socially dexterous millennial’s and promote them as brand ambassadors for their company or team.
The millennial’s are a very different bunch. They are young, dynamic and creative. They have a wide range of opportunities and expect more than monetary compensation for their work. A Gallup survey threw up that one of the reasons a millennial chooses a company are the learning opportunities that they get. Millennial’s are the future and if the organization uses new age training methods that are frolic and enticing, they would really appreciate the investment the organization is making in them.
Imbibing cultural values, commitment and vision of the organization in innovative ways are critical to the organization’s success, growth and their ability to face perils.