As millennials make up a higher and higher percentage of the workforce, managers must learn how to work with this new generation of adults. With over 53 million millennial workers in the United States alone, knowing how to relate to this group is key to a successful workplace. While some may think that millennials are “entitled” or not as hardworking as previous generations, these stereotypes just aren’t true if you know how to manage your younger employees.
One common trait most millennials share is a love of technology. They document their lives on social media and are rarely seen without their smartphones nearby. However, managers need to realize that younger workers don’t just use technology for fun. According to David Kurzmann, co-founder and CEO of Women’s Best, a women’s health retailer, “millennials have opened their eyes to technology. This means that employees are much more capable of applying technology for professional purposes than previous generations.” Their familiarity and comfort working with new types of technology helps millennials find new, innovative ways of doing and looking at things in the workplace.
Millennials also approach the manager/employee relationship differently than past generations. While older employees probably had a business-like, hierarchical relationship, millennials like managers who are accessible and personable. Being able to FaceTime or text their manager with a question puts millennials at ease. They like a manager who they feel comfortable talking to candidly and who is reachable on a variety of platforms. Millennials would rather have a manager who they feel works with them rather than someone who is cold and wields their authority.
In a similar vein, millennial workers like to have their voice heard at work. Being able to contribute their input to the team and actually have their manager consider it when making a decision keeps them motivated. Growing up, millennials were taught that everyone has a valid point of view no matter how much authority they have. For this reason, those managing millennials must actively listen. Whether it is concerning an idea for a project or a concern about how your office is run, understand that young employees don’t believe that those at the top hold the only “truths” of the workplace.
Having a clear path in their organization is also important to millennials, according to Sean St. John, Executive Vice President at National Bank Financial. Because they grew up believing they could do anything they set their minds to, millennials are often hungry for a career, not just a job.
Millennial workers are also known for asking for frequent feedback. Older generations might see this as needy or a sign of low self-esteem. However, millennials have experienced instant everything for as long as they can remember. They are used to constant communication, access to information, and connectedness Getting immediate feedback as they work lets them feel secure in their decisions so they know they are on the right track. Millennials want to be assets to their team and frequent feedback helps them open up a dialogue with their manager, keeping them in the loop about their performance.