Leading millennials seems to have today’s leaders confused and frustrated. There’s no doubt about it: each generation has their own way of operating!
What blows me away is when I hear a leadership team complain about work ethic and entitlement of today’s workforce, while they wallow in days gone by and pump their tires remembering how it was when they were new… what they gave and did to “get where they are today”.
My friends, the world is changing, and you either learn to motivate, inspire and lead a new generation OR pull the pin so we can begin the process of evolution.
The modern workforce is multigenerational, with millennials working alongside baby boomers, Gen Xers and Gen Zers. Every generation has their own approach to work and careers, and it’s these generational differences that often contribute to conflict in the workplace.
Don’t let that be you.
If you want a conflict-free, productive workplace, it’s up to you to lead the new generation through effective communication.
Closing the communication gaps will bring harmony to your workplace and allow you to harness the power of each generation for the success of your company or team.
Here are some tips to help you do it right:
Freedom is critical – The new generation is often more concerned with their time than their money. They want the ability to explore life, and they’re far less worried about their bank accounts than older generations are.
To be a good leader, make sure that they have the freedoms they crave. Instead of raising their salaries as a reward for their efforts, offer to extend their vacation time, give them more flexible working hours, or even work from home.
The more freedom they feel they have, the better workers they will be.
Give them responsibility – The new generation often feels underappreciated, like their full range of skills isn’t being utilized.
So utilize them!
If you need something done, ask them to do it. Give them responsibilities that go above and beyond the scope of their daily work. Let them operate as autonomously as you can. Don’t hover over their shoulders and give orders, but give them the freedom to make their own mistakes.
You may find they’ll find new, creative, and often more efficient ways to complete tasks. Even if they make mistakes, their process could have you find a better way to do things—contributing to more streamlined processes in the long run.
The more empowered and inspired they are, the better they will work.
Help them learn and grow – From a young age, the modern generation has developed the ability to pick up new skills and talents. Just look at how quickly they mastered smart devices and other modern technology. The best thing you can do is encourage that intellectual and professional growth.
Offer them courses, seminars, and educational programs to help them develop skills like organization, time management, communication, leadership, and other professional abilities. The more you help them learn, the more they will feel that you value them.
Loyalty isn’t guaranteed; it’s earned – Once, employees would be loyal to a company and boss simply because they were the ones signing the paychecks. In this modern day and age, it takes a lot more to earn the loyalty of the new generation.
It all starts with open, honest communication. You need to prove to them that you are a leader worth following, not a boss that will order them around. When you show that you value them and that you are someone worth following, you’ll earn their loyalty for sure.
Think about the long-term – The downside to the modern age of technology is that it makes finding jobs far easier. Now, the new generation can bounce between jobs and part-time gigs simply by sending around their resume via sites like Monster or LinkedIn.
Part of earning their loyalty is to think about what you can do to keep the new generation with your company for the long haul.
Heck, go ahead and ask them, “What can we do to encourage you to work here for the next year, five years, and ten years?”
You may find their answers surprising, as things will often revolve more around how they feel as employees rather than how well you’re paying them or even what sort of work they do. Sit them down and sound them out to find what you can do better.
When you find out what they want, see how you can incorporate those desires into your workplace. Some of them may not be practical, but some will be simple and cost-effective enough to be feasible. Giving Gen Zers and millennials a few more perks is often enough to start earning their loyalty in a big way.
Treat them as individuals – Referring to them as “the new generation” is far too broad to truly encapsulate the unique individuality of each one of them. If you try to treat them all alike, they’ll resent that just as much as if you treated them like one more corporate stooge.
The new generation’s sense of identity revolves heavily around their uniqueness and originality, so make sure that your workplace culture allows them to express that identity. They want to “be themselves”, and any leader that allows them to be precisely that is a leader far more likely to earn their trust and loyalty.