Guest post by my clients, Kate Murphy and Mel Blackwell
There’s been a lot of advice from the media in the last few years about the challenge of managing Millennials. They have a fundamentally different make-up than all previous generations, and they’ve brought these differences into a workforce largely made up of older generations who don’t know how to handle them.
For older business owners and managers, it is natural to be inclined to respond to “the entitlement generation” by insisting that they adapt to the way the older generations operate, or else. The problem with this approach is that changing the mindset of an entire generation just isn’t going to happen. Millennials already make up one-third of the workforce, and that number will increase as more of them graduate and enter the workforce and older workers retire.
Older managers and owners who dismiss the fact that this age group has much different expectations than what has always been accepted as “the norm” are in for a rude awakening. They’ll wake up one day and realize, too late, that their current workforce is shrinking to nothing because people are retiring and they can’t keep any “new blood” around since they refuse to allow their company culture to bend or grow with the new generation’s needs. Like it or not – they HAVE to get on board with the changing times or literally watch their company wither on the vine.
The good news is that adjusting to the way Millennials think is probably not as hard as you think and, in our experience, is extremely rewarding.
Our parent company’s other divisions have a median age of 55, whereas the mean age at our company is 28. That makes our culture very different, and we love working with this age group. They’re a bit needier – and sometimes whinier – than their older counterparts, but they also bring a huge wave of natural changeability, unapologetic energy, and an amazing drive to succeed. According to this report from Xactly Corp., Millennials perform as well, or better, than other generations if they have the right incentives.
Here are the key things you can do to address this generation’s biggest motivators and reap the benefit of the significant contributions they can make:
- Clearly define their job roles. Be as explicit as possible in defining their roles and responsibilities, including their top priorities and the time frames for accomplishing them. Millennials perform best when they are challenged and have potential for growth, so be clear about what the requirements are for advancement and provide them with the professional training necessary to move up.
- Provide real-time visibility. Millennials need constant feedback on their performance. Feedback from you is important, but they also like to be able to see where they stand at any point in time. Make sure to give them tools to track their progress so they can always know what they need to do to exceed their target measurables.
- Create a collaborative environment. Millennials value autonomy and individual recognition, but they also want to be part of a supportive, community-oriented culture. Creating a collaborative environment where they can feel like part of a team, but still be affirmed for their individual achievements will help them thrive.
- Give them a sense of how their contribution fits into the grand scheme. In addition to advancement potential, Millennials care about being part of something bigger than themselves. Paint the larger picture for them and make sure they see where their contribution fits into what you’re trying to build.
If you excel at these four things, you can really drive top shelf results from your people. We know because we’ve done it at HPA. But we haven’t had to reinvent the wheel to do it; the framework our workforce needs to succeed is build right into our operations because we run our company on the Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS®).
EOS is a team-driven system that creates the kind of corporate culture Millennials thrive in. Because EOS begins with “one Vision, shared by all,” our employees know what the company’s big goal is; and because every single employee has individual “Rocks” to be responsible for, they know what part their contribution plays in achieving it. Our EOS Scorecards provide a way for everyone to know how they’re doing at any moment, and reviewing them in our weekly Level 10 meeting provides much of the regular feedback and individual recognition they seek from a collaborative community.
This is one reason why EOS is so solid; the system is tailor-made to support the younger generation, but older workers thrive in it, too, because the energy it generates is contagious to any person who is a fit for our organization because they share our Core Values. It challenges everyone on the team to push past their comfort zone or whatever generational tendencies they may have to achieve the big-picture results they’re capable of. EOS is how we manage and maintain traction in this predictably incongruent process we call leadership.