Often described as technology-dependent, lazy and entitled, Millennial workers have some tough stereotypes to overcome. We already know some common misconceptions about Millennials and we now have a better understanding of their mindset, but as famously stated at the end of every episode of G.I. JOE, “knowing is half the battle.” As Baby Boomers and Gen Xers, how can we expand on that knowledge to help them succeed in the workplace?
Stop calling them Millennials
It’s amazing how one word can create instant, visceral reactions. No one hates the term ‘Millennial’ more than Millennials themselves, so work to stop referring to them with a label. As mentioned in Part 1 of this blog series, Millennials want to feel valuable on their own merits, so grouping them into a single category is equivalent to saying, “You’re not special.” Work to start thinking of them as unique contributors to your workforce.
Let them work differently
Because Millennials grew up differently, they think differently. Some Millennials work with the ‘end in mind,’ so asking them to complete a task in a typical, linear fashion (for example, “follow steps 1-7”) might not make sense for all Millennial workers. You might have to explain the desired outcome first and show them how they can work backwards, from step 7 to step 1, or let them work on multiple steps at the same time. As long as they complete the work, let them do it in a way that works for them.
Stop blaming them for their childhood
We need to stop verbalizing ideas like, “Every person received a trophy just for participating in this generation!” and “They are constantly taking selfies!” with such disdain and frustration. Yes, those things are true, but blaming Millennials reinforces the negative (and often false) stereotypes of elitism and narcissism associated with this generation.
Consider this—who raised Millennials? Who ordered all those trophies when Millennials were kids? Who invented mobile devices and smartphones? Baby Boomers did! Yes, Millennials think they are special, but they didn’t give the trophies to themselves, nor did they invent the technology they embrace so much. The next time you get frustrated with the Millennial mentality, remind yourself who is responsible for their reasoning.
Make them feel special, from day one
Little gestures go a long way. If you’re a manager, consider pre-ordering business cards for your Millennial workers and have them ready when they show up for their first day. This small act says, “We value you, and we’re excited that you’re a part of this organization.” You should really do this for all of your workers, regardless of their generation, but for Millennials, it’s like receiving a participation trophy all over again.
What do you think about this advice for helping Millennials succeed in the workplace? Let us know by joining the conversation @PointOneRecruit.