As cultural and business norms shift to reflect the Millennial workforce, so too must your managerial training efforts. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, this generation already accounts for more than half of the current workforce, and there’s no reason to suspect that Gen Z will be pushing the pendulum back in the opposite direction as they come of age.
Numerous studies have shown that Millennials’ priorities in the business world are a paradigm shift from their elder counterparts. Work-life balance, the societal impact of their work, and rapid advancement both personally and professionally are rated much higher in terms of importance, compared to salary, than in previous generations. Traditional management tactics fail to incentivize and no longer are the vast majority of employees willing to slog away with blind loyalty to one corporation if they are not feeling fulfilled or challenged.
So what do you do? Is it enough to bemoan the loss of work ethic and join the ranks of those who use Millennial as more of a pejorative than anything else? Or, do you train your managers in the following techniques, and truly embracing them as an organization, which will pay dividends over time? We would advise you chose the latter.
Stop managing and LEAD
Statistically speaking, Millennials spend more time working per day than non-Millennials, not to mention more time furthering their educational pursuits, whether for scholastic reasons or simply for pleasure. The issue lies not in a lack of motivation but squarely on the shoulders of the endemic failures of the very concept of management that society has come to embrace. Problems and projects can be managed but people must be lead.
This means your managers need to focus on building relationships with their subordinates. They must get to know the interests, strengths, weaknesses, and aspirations of their employees. Finding ways to accommodate their desires while still continuing to serve the best interests of the organization enables mutual trust to form between both parties.
Effective feedback is not one-directional. Managers must equally be able to accept feedback from employees as well as dole out a fair and succinct review of employee performance. Again, trust is the central tenet here. When employees feel that they have input on management that is valued and taken seriously they are inherently more invested in the business.
None of these tips are worth the time it takes to read them if communication is not the keystone of your leadership strategy. If feedback is focused on individuals, or assigning blame, instead of on the actions in question, it simply will not be successful. Similarly, if employees think that management is only paying lip service to these methods, then any trust built will be eroded.
In these times of ever-tightening budgets, a progressive approach to management will set your company apart. A happy and engaged workforce is far more productive than one motivated by fear of termination. People are not replaceable cogs in the corporate machine and the Millennial generation has shown that, if they are treated as such, they are willing to sacrifice pay for more fulfilling employment elsewhere.