Are you older than the millennial workers you supervise? Do you dislike doing it? Have you stopped trying to connect with them in a meaningful way?
If so, you are not alone. Yet if you have, you are not taking full advantage of the skills and unique perspectives that millennials can contribute. In the process, you could even be limiting your company’s competitiveness and success.
How can you tell if you have fallen into that pattern? Here are some hard questions to ask yourself.
Do you think millennials are just like you were when you were their age?
The fact is, many millennials really are a lot different from members of older cohorts. Many more of them grew up in disrupted or mixed households . . . more of them had college-educated parents . . . most of them are not at all preoccupied with their coworkers’ lifestyle choices . . . a great many of them are more risk-tolerant than the members of older generations. And those are only a few of the attitudes that can make millennials different from older people
So you see, dismissing the differences between you and millennials could be an excuse to avoid thinking on a deeper level about how to manage them.
Have you decided that it is too difficult to talk to millennials?
This is an easy out that some older managers opt for, simply because talking to millennials takes them out of their comfort zone. In our experience, millennial workers are just as easy to communicate with as are the members of any other age group – provided a manager tries. Evan Hackel, our founder, is a big advocate of communicating the “WIIFM” (“What’s In It for Me?”) when communicating not only to millennials, but to everyone. His point is that if you tell people how they will benefit from what you are saying – it will save time, result in larger commissions, or deliver other benefits – they will listen. Millennials will . . . and so will everyone else.
Do you believe that millennials have no company loyalty?
In our experience, this is simply not true. Yet many millennials do think about advancement in a new way. While members of older generations expected to discover the rules of how to get ahead as they moved up through the ranks, many millennials like to have those rules spelled out early on. What behaviors are valued in your company, for example? What criteria are used to evaluate performance? What career paths are available? Evan Hackel believes in creating a personal development plan for every company employee.
Have you decided that it is more difficult to train millennials than it is to train members of other age groups?
It is true that many millennials like training that is delivered to their smartphones and tablets. Some also prefer training programs that are broken down into shorter, easily digestible units. But is training like that more difficult to design or deliver? Not really. And many forms of training – simulations, games, videos, learning by doing – work equally well for members of all age groups.
Do you believe that millennials are only concerned with technology?
Of course, many millennials are fluent in their use of apps, social media sites, online video-sharing platforms, and more. But does that mean that they are not interested in anything else? No, not at all. Again, this assumption can be an easy copout for managers who have decided not to try to manage millennials well. (“I can’t get through to them . . . all they do is stare at their phones.”) Just like all other people, millennials are receptive to information that is presented in an engaging way.
Do you assume that millennials don’t like you?
Do you assume that millennials don’t like you because you are older than they are? If so, what evidence do you have? Is it really true, or are you using it as an excuse to stop trying? It might sound a bit harsh, but it might be more productive to ask how hard you, as a manger, are trying to reach out and establish good lines of communication.
Want to Learn More?
To learn more about managing millennial workers, you are invited to ORDER the free eBook, Bridging the Generation Gap, from our partner company Tortal Training.