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Three Tips to Manage Millennials the Right Way

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A few decades ago, professional workplaces were populated primarily by baby boomers and members of Generation X. Cubicles were grey, offices were sterile, nine-to-five hours were a standard and rigid expectation, and employees welcomed (or at least tolerated) managerial hovering that bordered on compulsive. Gen X and boomer employees may not love being micromanaged, but they’ve long since accepted this approach as a standard aspect of working life. They know the rules: Show up every day, all week, and have a good excuse to offer if the boss wanders by and you aren’t dutifully seated at your desk.

But millennials, by comparison, don’t appreciate this treatment, and they don’t tend to produce their best work under these conditions. Managers who adjust their styles to meet the needs of a younger generation are poised to thrive; those who ignore the needs and preferences of talented millennial employees are likely to underuse these talents, or worse, lose these employees altogether. Use these tips to better manage your millennial staff.

Lighten up (most of the time)

Younger employees and recent graduates are often comfortable with mobility, which is to say, they like to connect their own devices to company networks, and they enjoy working from home. Conservative managers may shake their heads and insist that no good can come from letting 25-year-olds wander out of the office to “work” remotely, but this generation has faced down some significant challenges to get where they are, and if your younger teams are like most, their typical work ethic rises above reproach. Extend the trust they deserve and you may be surprised by the results.

Remove both physical and creative constraints

Giving young employees the freedom to innovate and make creative mistakes can also bring forth their best efforts. While entry-level Generation X employees seemed to find glamor in a competitive, unforgiving workplace, millennials usually don’t. If you publically silence these employees during meetings, criticize them harshly, dismiss their ideas, or punish them for taking risks, they won’t feel an increased motivation to excel. They’ll simply clam up, or take their ideas elsewhere.

Crack down when necessary

Of course, younger employees don’t yet know what a “standard” work ethic and “standard” expectations really look like. In order to clear the bar and meet those expectations, they still need guidance. As you let your employees roam, make sure their deliverables and deadlines are appearing on schedule. If they aren’t, don’t wait too long to deliver clear corrections. Don’t let a year of poor performance go by before tearing your employee apart in an annual performance review. Explain what you need from your millennial, give them a chance to correct themselves, and check in often enough to make sure they’re staying on track.

For more on how to manage millennial employees by backing away and letting them spread their wings, reach out to the financial staffing team at Cordia.