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Remember the praise – managing the Millennials

In case you missed it, Morley Safer recently did a thought-provoking story on “60 Minutes” on the work and living habits of the Millennials who are now joining the workforce. Unlike Boomers and even Gen-Xers, Millennials (born between 1980 and 1995) were the first to mature in a tech-savvy world and in a culture that everyone is special, a winner, with the potential to be great.

“They were raised by doting parents who told them they were special, played in Little Leagues with no winners or losers, or all winners. They are laden with trophies just for participating and they think your business-as-usual ethic is for the birds. And if you persist in the belief, you can take your job and shove it.”

Corporate America is so unnerved by the different work habits and attitudes of the Millennials that an industry of consultants has developed to figure out how to train, motivate, and retain these tech-skilled employees who put their needs above everything else.

This generation grew up in a world of no failure. Many never held jobs – they may have climbed Mount Everest, but never worked a summer job, nor punched a time clock. More than one-half move back home after colleges and parents play an increasing role in job choices and performance feedback.

Managers have found that Millennials have the expectation that they’ll always be rewarded, even for just showing up. You can’t be harsh or tell them they have not done their job well. They won’t live and breathe the company because they are living and breathing themselves.

Mary Crane, a Millennial consultant, advises that boomers need to focus more on coaching rather than bossing. “If you just tell them, ‘You got to do this. You got to do this,’ they truly will walk.”

Tips for Managing Millennials
Our partner, HR That Works, offers the following tips:
1. Get very clear about what “privacy” and discretion mean. Growing up in a tech world of instant communication, they may not think about it the same way that you do. If you intend for them to keep something private or secret, make sure they agree to do so in a contractual document.

2. Half of this generation grew up with over-supervision (having their lives totally scheduled) and the other half were raised by one or two parents who worked full time. Either way they may not be as independent or responsible as you’d like. They are going to need supervision. A “coaching” rather than bossing approach with much positive feedback will yield results.

3. Much of this generation expects to get rich tomorrow. They have little patience and have been told they can have something because they want it. It’s important to identify both short and long-term goals. Let them know if they do what they agree to do, you will live up to your promises as well and their future is bright.

4. Much of this generation has grown up with parents who are overworked and stressed and the Millennials want no part of it. Whether they are right or wrong in their perception of a balanced life-style, employers are going to have to come to grips with this reality.

5. Be aware of their communication skills. Many can’t write a decent business letter. They also have difficulty in communicating in more than three sentences at a time. Training sessions to improve communication skills may be necessary.