2016 is upon us, and executives are evaluating talent gaps on their teams and the subsequent hiring decisions that will be necessary. In searching for new talent, a fresh crop of millennials is likely to spring up in company’s applicant pools. They’re bright! They’re creative! They’re current—but frequently disengaged (insert frowny face emoji here.) This generation of workers is also repeatedly characterized as unwilling or unlikely to make contact beyond the screens of their tablets, laptops, and smart phones. As a millennial myself, I am aware of the reputation we have in the job market, and with that in mind I can understand – to an extent, at least – why managers are cautious before investing resources in us. But here’s the rub: Some of the reasons behind millennial-workplace behavior stems from their management’s preconceived notions. And, just as managers can discern when they are not inspiring millennials, millennials can discern when managers think less of them. This factor can be as significant as social media and other “expected” distractions when it comes to why we’re not engaged in office life or showing any enthusiasm in our work.
Managers: Take Note of These 3 Things Millennials Want From You
But, let’s focus on the positive (after all, it is the New Year!) Remember—we millennials are bright, creative thinkers who can add immensely to the success of your company. As you prepare to welcome more of us into your workforce, keep in mind three things we want—and need–from our managers.
- Talk to us.
Please, talk to us. I know, this seems counter-intuitive to what you understand about our preferred methods of communication. You may think you should communicate timely feedback to us—good or bad– via our “preferred” electronic means. Ultimately, we would benefit most from having these things relayed in a personal, face-to-face setting rather than an email or text message. Remember, we are learning. We need to hear your tone and observe your body language. Dialogue in these situations is good too. Give us a chance to ask questions and listen to your answers. Get us out of our comfort zone (and possibly yours as well.) Meet with us and actively engage us in direct interpersonal communication.
- Invest in us.
Invest in us if you expect us to invest in you. I know, you took a chance and gave us a job, knowing that we might not stay long. Outside of our paychecks, you don’t technically need to provide us with much else, right? Wrong. We need professional opportunities to develop and grow. By giving your millennial team members opportunities to attend and participate in conferences, lectures, webinars, and other tools to drive their development, you’re showing them that you value them and the contributions they can make to your organization. And this investment in development – both at the organizational and the personal level – is going to go a long way in keeping us on board and engaged in our work. Even better, you will find that we are eager to share our knowledge with the team. Allow us to do so, and we will feel even better about you.
- Have faith in us.
Let me lay all my cards on the table: It’s true that we’re not perfect. It’s true that we may not want to admit that we’re not perfect, and at times would rather press on pretending that we have all the answers instead of swallowing our pride and asking for help. It’s true that there will be some days where we struggle more than others. And it’s also true that we’re not always going to give 110% of our energy to our work. But even with all of these shortcomings, we ask that you have faith in us. Give us the freedom to tug on the leash, but please keep the door open for us to seek your advice as to where to go next. Show us your enthusiasm and excitement for what we are doing, especially on the days when we’re lacking in that excitement. And most importantly, demonstrate that you believe in us, and that you want us on your team. If you want us to be there, then we’re going to want to be there. And the more you have faith in us, the more we’re going to try our best to not let you down. Yes, there’s a chance that you might abide by all of this advice, and still bring a millennial into your organization that does not perform the way you want. But I guarantee you that there will be more who stick around, press their nose to the grindstone, and make your investment worthwhile.