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How to Coach Millennials

How to Coach Millennials

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Featured photo credit: Man Talking About Architecture Ideas via picjumbo.com

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Last Updated on May 22, 2019

The Pomodoro Technique: Is It Right for You to Boost Productivity?

The Pomodoro Technique: Is It Right for You to Boost Productivity?

If you spend any time at all researching life hacks, you’ve probably heard of the famous Pomodoro Technique.

Created in the 1980s by Francesco Cirillo, the Pomodoro Technique is one of the more popular time management life hacks used today. But this method isn’t for everyone, and for every person who is a passionate adherent of the system, there is another person who is critical of the results.

Is the Pomodoro Technique right for you? It’s a matter of personal preference. But if you are curious about the benefits of using the technique, this article will break down the basic information you will need to decide if this technique is worth trying out.

What is the Pomodoro Technique?

The Pomodoro Technique is a time management philosophy that aims to provide the user with maximum focus and creative freshness, thereby allowing them to complete projects faster with less mental fatigue.

The process is simple:

For every project throughout the day, you budget your time into short increments and take breaks periodically.

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You work for 25 minutes, then take break for five minutes.

Each 25-minute work period is called a “pomodoro”, named after the Italian word for tomato. Francesco Cirillo used a kitchen timer shaped like a tomato as his personal timer, and thus the method’s name.

After four “pomodoros” have passed, (100 minutes of work time with 15 minutes of break time) you then take a 15-20 minute break.

Every time you finish a pomodoro, you mark your progress with an “X”, and note the number of times you had the impulse to procrastinate or switch gears to work on another task for each 25-minute chunk of time.

How the Pomodoro Technique boosts your productivity

Frequent breaks keep your mind fresh and focused. According to the official Pomodoro website, the system is easy to use and you will see results very quickly:

“You will probably begin to notice a difference in your work or study process within a day or two. True mastery of the technique takes from seven to twenty days of constant use.”

If you have a large and varied to-do list, using the Pomodoro Technique can help you crank through projects faster by forcing you to adhere to strict timing.

Watching the timer wind down can spur you to wrap up your current task more quickly, and spreading a task over two or three pomodoros can keep you from getting frustrated.

The constant timing of your activities makes you more accountable for your tasks and minimizes the time you spend procrastinating.

You’ll grow to “respect the tomato”, and that can help you to better handle your workload.

Successful people who love it

Steven Sande of The Unofficial Apple Weblog is a fan of the system, and has compiled a great list of Apple-compatible Pomodoro tools.

Before he started using the technique, he said,

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“Sometimes I couldn’t figure out how to organize a single day in my calendar, simply because I would jump around to all sorts of projects and never get even one of them accomplished.”

Another proponent of the Pomodoro Technique is Sue Shellenbarger of the Wall Street Journal. Shellenbarger tried out this system along with several other similar methods for time management, and said,

“It eased my anxiety over the passing of time and also made me more efficient; refreshed by breaks, for example, I halved the total time required to fact-check a column.”

Any cons for the Pomodoro Technique?

Despite the number of Pomodoro-heads out there, the system isn’t without its critics. Colin T. Miller, a Yahoo! employee and blogger, tried using the Pomodoro Technique and had some issues:[1]

“Pomodoros are an all or nothing affair. Either you work for 25 minutes straight to mark your X or you don’t complete a pomodoro. Since marking that X is the measurable sign of progress, you start to shy away from engaging in an activity if it won’t result in an X. For instance…meetings get in the way of pomodoros. Say I have a meeting set for 4:30pm. It is currently 4:10pm, meaning I only have 20 minutes between now and the meeting…In these instances I tend to not start a pomodoro because I won’t have enough time to complete it anyway.”

Another critic is Mario Fusco, who argues that the Pomodoro Technique is…well…sort of ridiculous:[2]

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“Aren’t we really able to keep ourselves concentrated without a timer ticketing on our desk?… Have you ever seen a civil engineer using a timer to keep his concentration while working on his projects?… I think that, like any other serious professional, I can stay concentrated on what I am doing for hours… Bring back your timer to your kitchen and start working in a more professional and effective way.”

Conclusion

One of the best things about the Pomodoro Technique is that it’s free. Yeah, you can fork over some bills to get a tomato-shaped timer if you want… or you can use any timer program on your computer or phone. So even if you try it and hate it, you haven’t lost any cash.

The process isn’t ideal for every person, or in any line of work. But if you need a systematic way to tackle your daily to-do list, the Pomodoro Technique may fit your needs.

If you want to learn more about the Pomodoro Technique, check out this article: How to Make the Pomodoro Technique More Productive

Reference

[1] Aspirations of a Software Developer: A Month of the Pomodoro Technique
[2] InfoQ: A Critique of the Pomodoro Technique

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