Let’s start with this—I am a millennial who chooses to wake up, kick ass and repeat...day after day. Not because I have to, because I want to. I am fortunate enough to have a career that challenges me at a company that provides an environment that keeps me engaged and asking for more. Now I want to share that little bit of magic with you…
There is a widely-known stereotype that millennials are lazy, entitled and goalless. I call Bullshit. Every generation has lazy people, so blaming our generational differences on that is, quite frankly, lazy. If you are a hiring manager, you have no doubt inherited employees you want to light a fire under. I'm not trying to teach you how to instill drive in an adult (fun fact, millennials are adults), because that could very well be an impossible task. I want to focus on how to engage millennials on a level that will enable, inspire and insight them to light their own fire.
Like the proverbial snowflake, every millennial is different. Now more than ever, you have to ask yourself, “Does this individual fit within our culture?” If the answer is “No”, then the hiring decision is simple. The majority of millennials have had tech in their hands since they learned their ABCs, so they expect to be engaged ALL. THE. TIME. This doesn’t mean you need to baby them—in fact, it means the opposite. Make the motto “Fail hard and fail fast” a guideline for millennial workers. Give them a challenge to own, room to succeed or fail, and if they do fall short, show them where and why, and encourage them to move on. Millennials learn quickly, use it to your advantage.
Millennials are open books; they have grown up in a world where people share their every move. Gluten-free waffles for breakfast? I don’t care, but I know they care enough to shout it on social, so use this behavior to your advantage. Five minutes of your time asking about their personal life, results in a full day of productivity because they know you care about how they’re doing, not just about what they’re producing for the company.
One stereotype I've found to ring true is that millennials like to be praised for their wins. What isn’t true is the idea that they need a trophy for every little thing. A simple a high five and a “Thank you” means more. How hard is that? Giving reviews is a way to translate millennials’ love of accolades to the business world. Reviews take time, effort and thought that we, as managers, often push aside for “more important tasks.” It’s our job to remember that there is nothing more important than your team. They make it happen, so take the time to show you care! Give reviews, provide obtainable goals, and reward them for hitting them.
Don’t stick to the old rule of tenure either—if they are hitting their goals and tracking to the top, encourage them every step of the way! In my opinion, there is nothing worse than telling a successful young employee that they weren’t given an opportunity over another because “they are older than you.” Age is a number; experience and success need to be the real factors on the table.