Every day more and more millennials enter the workforce. It is often said that millennials bring innovation, new perspectives and ideas for growth. As the new and largest generation of our workforce, millennials are calling for a new way of leadership. Do you know how to best leverage their potential and coach them effectively?
Millennials, born between early 1980s and 2000s, have much to contribute to the expansion and growth of your business. In this article I will share 5 key principles from my business and career coaching practice to attract, lead and motivate millennials in the workplace.
1. Provide structure and sharpen their focus
Prioritizing days and weeks in advance is part of every successful leader’s routine. However, this is something millennials don’t embrace so easily: to have everything scheduled. They enjoy being spontaneous and flexible.
Offer them the flexibility they need, while still setting healthy boundaries and providing structure. Certain routines can be scheduled every day. Regular monthly and weekly meetings with a clear agenda and goals will help millennials to achieve long term goals and get organized.
Serve as a role model and inspire them to absorb your good working habits: how to organize your workspace, how to effectively schedule work and set realistic goals. Take some time to coach them on: how to use practical tools and methods to plan time wisely, streamline certain tasks, communicate with team members and lead workshops. This will not only sharpen their focus but also keep them on track with assigned projects.
2. Create opportunities for growth
Most millennials I’ve encountered are very self-confident and have a great “can do” attitude. That’s why millennials don’t need a manager but a great leader with coaching skills to inspire them. They don’t want simply a great title and a good check at the end of the month. They want to make a true contribution and work on something meaningful because their identity is often expressed through the work they do. Therefore assign them meaningful projects in which they can make an impact to the growth of the company and at the same time expand their current skills.
Be warned: millennials are generally less responsive to an authoritarian leadership style. Being stern or commanding will bring no improvement in productivity of millennials and may yield undesired consequences for the company.
Millennials are eager to take a lead and show off their skills by running independent projects. They will feel limited if they are expected to work only within the specific frameworks. Independent projects empower and serve as an opportunity to fuel their passion, grow, and learn.
3. Encourage ‘quick wins’
Every new assignment can be exciting at the beginning. However if desired goals are not as timely realized as expected, millennials may lose their initial enthusiasm and feel anxious or even depressed.
Setting ‘quick wins’’ is a countermeasure for burning-out. These are the goals that can be achieved before experiencing any sense of inefficacy. Based on my experience as a leadership coach I would recommend leaders devoting a few hours per week and month for joint reflection on current projects, progress and setting small attainable goals – ‘quick wins’ until next week and month. This simple exercise will keep millennials engaged and committed.
4. Foster an environment for learning
Millennials love flat hierarchies, honest feedback and having a transparent relationship with their authentic managers. Therefore, dedicate some time to review their progress and give constructive feedback. Stay in touch regularly, show interest and curiosity in their way of working; praise their progress; don’t be judgmental, but inspire them to aim higher. Reflect on how to coach them better and serve their thirst for knowledge.
5. Give opportunities to bolster their CVs
According to a recent study on the millennial workforce, 53% hiring managers find it challenging to retain the millennials. Your role as a leader is to support their growth, that’s why you need to learn when it’s the best time to let them go. The ‘I want to work for the next 30 years in the same company’ trend is gone. The new wave has less long term commitment to one specific organization. Therefore, work with them to develop their skills and help them to enrich their CVs. Communicate clearly that even if they leave the organization, you will be there for them. In all my years of coaching, I’ve seen this loyalty returning.
You and millennials: two different generations, tackling the same challenges but ending up creating a distinctive individual plan of action to deal with them. Use this difference to your advantage. This is a wake-up call for all leaders. Invest in millennials and give them the freedom they need. You will see surprising results.
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