For those in their upper 30s and beyond, the millennial employee can either be a saving grace or a complete challenge. Millennials will either work their fingers to the bone for you or they will be your worst workplace nightmare.
So how do you socialize a millennial into your workplace effectively? Here are 4 simple ways.
First, you have to be crystal clear with your expectations.
What is obvious to you is not obvious to them. If you want them to solve a problem on their own, you have to tell them that. If you want them to act happy when they arrive at their cubicle, and if you want them to have a service-orientation all day, you have to tell them that. If you want them to come to work early and stay late in order to garner some workplace credibility, you have to tell them that too.
Now, I would love for my millennial workers to read my mind and to do all of these things automatically. In fact, I emphatically believe that they SHOULD do this without me telling them. This is besides the point, however. Us older folk are going to have to start using our words to communicate with them instead of disgruntled remarks under our breath and secret eye rolls. If they are falling out of your zone of respect, I can promise you, they do not know that unless you tell them.
Second, you have to give them formal feedback every three months.
This is a time where you sit down and share what you think they have done well – with examples – and also share what you think they have not done well – with examples. This is a time where you communicate to them why their success is important to the company and why you care about it.
These actions are symbolic to millennials and it shows them that you care. Millennials want a coach not a boss. They want someone to teach them and to show them that they matter. A private 1-on-1 every three months does just that. And, yes, I get it, this is completely unnerving to people who have been working 15+, 25+, 35+ years and it takes a LOT of precious time. But its effective if you need to turn around a staff of 20-somethings.
Third, you have to inspire them to greatness.
It doesn’t matter if they are working the cash register or washing cars or working at a law firm. They seek inspiration and a connection to a larger group aspiration. If you don’t have one you probably have high turnover rates. So you’ll need to make a strategic plan for your business they can buy in to or you need to make a plan for them in terms of their development and growth.
Don’t have the money to invest in your millennials and their individual talents? They will probably quit and your replacement costs will consume you. Don’t feel like being inspirational with someone who you think doesn’t quite deserve the time? I don’t blame you, but they will find someone who does.
Hire a person to deal specifically with your millennial workforce if you don’t have the patience. It was save a ton of money in the end AND you might just get the workforce and workplace culture you dream of.
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Dr. Ganem is founder and director of Lion Leadership, a consulting organization and that helps private and non-profit companies with leadership and managerial development, strategic planning, and organizational effectiveness. She is primary writer for the ROAR blog at www.ImTheLion.com where readers gain perspective on themselves, their organizations, and how to reach their potential at work.