Every day, there's a new gripe about Millennials making headlines. The complaints usually come from previous generations: Baby Boomers and Gen Xers, I'm looking at you. They say we're lazy, entitled and narcissistic. They complain about our work ethic. They claim we don't want to work at all—and if we do, we have no loyalty to our employers. While these complaints may be true of some members of this generation, many Millennials are hard workers for whom none of the stereotypes apply. And what generation doesn't have some members who fall into these categories, too?
Like it or not, the Millennial Generation makes up a large percentage of the workforce. In fact, according to Forbes, Millennials—people born between 1980 and 2000—will make up 75 percent of the working force by 2025. So much for the "unemployed" generation.
That means many managers will be tasked with managing Millennials. In fact, many Millennial workers are managers themselves—and are often managing other Milennial workers.
No member of a single generation is exactly the same as another. (I'm sure Baby Boomers don't assume they're all the same, do they?) So if you're looking for a one-size-fits-all managerial style for every single employee you encounter—Millennial or not—you're probably not going to find it anywhere. However, there are some general trends about the Millennial Generation and managerial styles that will help you and your reports do your jobs well that you might want to keep in mind as a manager. Of course, these are not true about all Millennial workers, and you should adapt your style according to the job and the worker—not just to the Millennial workforce in general.
1. Give feedback.
Contrary to popular belief, many Millennials want to learn and grow. But we can't read your minds. Employers need to tell their employees how to to do their jobs better. That doesn't mean you should criticize and nitpick every mistake. Instead, focus on constructive criticism.
We want to know how to do better. Rather than pointing out errors, ask young people to consider a different approach. And along with the the critique, tell them which part of their job they're doing well. This is a good rule of thumb for giving feedback to members of all generations, not just Millennials. You hired these people for a reason, so you must have seen something positive in their skillset and strength. Tell them what it is!
2. Promote work-life balance.
In today's world, work and life bleed into one another. You want to keep your employees happy—and part of keeping them happy is ensuring that they're happy in all arenas. If your workers don't have time for their personal lives and relationships with their partners and families, the workplace willl become their entire lives.
Make sure your employees have time for other obligations and commitments. If they're striking a solid work-life balance, they will be happier over all, which in turn means they're more likely to stay at their employer. Millennials are often accused of having a wandering eye in the job sphere. Give them a reason to stay!
3. Make your workplace desirable.
By the same token, incentize employees to stay by creating a hostpitable working environment. That doesn't just mean a flowing beer tap—although that's a perk WeWork employees know and love. It also means investing in their future.
Employees are more likely to commit to their employer longterm if they perceive the company as being invested in their future. That means offering career-development incentives, such as coaching, mentoring programs, trainings, and other educational experiences. You can also give them opportunities to attend conferences, host speakers, and give them other opportunities to grow.
While you may be wary of affording employees too much "growth" room—won't they just take these skills to another company?—keep in mind that growing within a company can be a great way to realize career potential. If you reward loyalty and incentize employees with educational opportunities, they will want to stay.
4. Mentor employees.
Rather than just giving commands, nurture a relationship of mutual respect for younger workers. They want to learn from you. And keep in mind that you might be able to learn from them, too. These employees came of age with new technologies you might not have had and bring new talents and perspectives. Be open to the idea of learning from your reports, just as they will learn from you.
You may be wary of working with and managing Millennials, but rather than seeing it as an obstacle, think of it as an opportunity. At the very least, you'll develop some new leadership skills—and you may even learn something new.