Managing Millennials in the Workplace

Kathy Leck

Thursday, November 27, 2014

In today’s dynamic, global market, knowing how to manage a diverse workforce is more important than ever, and that includes the growing population of millennials. As a group millennials have many unique qualities which make them desirable employees. A wise leader will be willing not only to work with, but also to learn from, this digitally-savvy generation.

One thing millennials are unparalleled at is multitasking. They’ve never known a time without the Internet, and since childhood, they’ve been bombarded with constant digital distractions–so they’ve learned how to perform multiple tasks at once. The research on the brain remains still unproven whether multitasking is effective yet millennials are totally wired this way. Giving a millennial an assortment of tasks to perform and goals to hit is not only acceptable, but desirable. They seek out new and different challenges in order to keep interested and stimulated.

Millennials work and learn best in a collaborative, team-oriented environment, so if your workplace is divided by cubicles and hemmed in by closed office doors, you won’t get the most out of your young workforce. Millennials want to learn from their co-workers and to make friends with them, so provide them ample opportunities for collaboration and team-building social events. In order to engage your millennial workforce, take down your cubicles and set up a more open office plan in which employees are able to see and interact with each other, with a few small offices or lounge areas for meetings and conference calls. However, it’s also important to be sensitive to workers who may need less noise to concentrate. If so, encourage these workers to maintain an open door policy and to mingle with the younger staff in the common areas.

Millennials require structure, leadership, and clearly set goals to be most productive. Clarity on necessary deadlines and agendas, as well as keeping them in the loop on any changes to the project is essential. Give them context to the assignments you give them as they may be able to achieve far more than even expected when they know the big picture. Take time to meet with them for a few minutes a day to chat with them about their progress. Millennials thrive on regular and straight shooting feedback as well as feel as though their ideas and opinions are being heard; these daily “micro-mentoring” gestures can add up to increased job satisfaction for them. Follow the way they Micro mentor others in technology use, new creative ideas and social networking. One can learn a lot from their approaches. I know few millennials who aren’t very patient with employees they have to guide to catch up with the digital age.

If managed with respect, sensitivity and directness, and tact, millennials will bring boundless energy, unprecedented digital skills, and fresh ideas for a more productive and diverse workplace.

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