Millennials seem to be a vastly misunderstood lot. People have misconceptions about millennials, making general assumptions about their personalities, what they value, how they do things, what they believe in, so on and so forth. In recent years, more formal research and studies have been conducted that give us a better insight about this group of young people. In the multi-generational workplace today, more and more people issues arise when people fall prey to misconceptions and say the wrongs things or in the wrong way to others, especially millennials. Considering more than 50% of the workforce will be comprised of millennials by the year 2020, it’s time we learned the right way to communicate with them!
Here are seven things you should stop saying to millennials:
1. You do XYZ because I told you to do so!
Top down approach is not popular with millennials. Giving them instructions and directions and only as-needed information is the surest way to lose their trust and interest. They thrive on feeling a sense of connection and owning the task. Giving them orders and not truly making them a part of the team does not foster the connection they seek with their work.
Instead, include them in all relevant conversations and be transparent. This makes them feel respected and valued and hence foster’s their output and commitment to the workplace.
2. You have to rely on IT to give you the latest and the greatest.
This group of people is very familiar and comfortable with technology. They know the latest productivity apps, the newest chat channels, and the greatest softwares. Telling them to wait for a long time to get a piece of technology approved by the IT department, is a big source of frustration and hindrance to the way they work. A couple of years ago (when I was still technically in the millennial age bracket), I was at a meeting with a top C level executive and typing away my notes on Evernote. The C level executive asked me what it is and after I explained, he asked me if it had been approved by IT. He was concerned that I could access my notes on my phone or my home computer. He recommended that I talk to the head of IT about it. Luckily for me, I was not mandated to stop using Evernote. Evernote is like a right arm to me and it would be extremely difficult to manage my notes and work on word documents and emails!
In the same vein, millennials expect the latest and greatest with their devices, connectivity, and applications. Easy to use software and devices with minimal IT interference is a great perk for millennials.
3.You have to wait to talk about it in the Annual Performance Review.
Shelving important conversations such as giving feedback, explanations, strategic discussions etc are things that supervisors tend to put off for later. Near term tasks/needs and putting off the ‘immediate fire situation’ are most often the priorities on a day-to-day basis. Millennials want to be a part of the strategic discussions, want their opinions to be heard and want immediate feedback, if possible on the spot.
When millennials approach you, be transparent, open and inviting, give feedback as often as possible and satiate their hunger to grow and be a part of the organization.
4. You must get this task done.
Giving a millennial a task and asking them to get it done without any other explanation will raise eyebrows for sure! Millennials like to understand not just what the task is but also why it is done, how it fits into the overall vision for the company, and how it upholds the mission of the organization. They see it all as an interconnected web and how their contribution plays a big part in upholding this web.
Make sure to give millennials the entire 3D, 4D, and any other D view of the project to help them buy in and garner their support for completion of the task.
5. You are on a one-man team:
As much as millennials love their time with their devices, this generation thrives on human connections. Setting up a one-person team will demoralize millennials. It is not that they are not capable of finishing tasks on their own, but more so that they like to collaborate.
Provide opportunities to collaborate and do team work.
6. You move to this role and your career path is:
Millennials thrive on autonomy and by taking charge of their career destiny. Don’t allot them to roles and paths that you think is best for them.
Engage in conversations with them and let them make decisions concerning their career paths.
7. You ask for things that are against our policy :
Flexible work arrangements are important to millennials. Being able to work from home or choose flexible work timings allows them to take care of other commitments. Honoring their commitments is a big deal for this group. Blaming it on policy if you have not given it a try before, is a strict no-no.
Instead, being willing to try new suggestions as suggested by millennials, giving their ideas a fair chance earns their respect and trust and commitment.
This warm, engaging and collaborative group is brimming with potential. Let us use the right communication tools to maximize our interactions with millennials.
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