The future is happening as we speak: Learning how to manage Millennials will be an essential skill going forward, as these bright your minds are now the single largest generation in the global workforce. According to Pew Research, the last of the Millennial generation (aka Gen Y) was born in 1997, making the youngest of this population segment 21 years old in 2018 – and it’s high time we understood the best way to educate and empower these emerging young talents. In fact, learning how to engage and communicate with them will be an essential talent to posses for working professionals at all levels going forward. So what’s the best way to think about leadership in tomorrow’s workplace, and how can you go about effectively understanding how to manage Millennials? The following hints and tips can help.
TREAT ALL AS INDIVIDUALS – First, let’s acknowledge no two people are the same, so make sure you don’t make assumptions about Millennials, just as they don’t leap to conclusions as other generations: Each person you’ll work with comes to the table with their own skills, attitudes, talents, and insights. Yes, many members of Gen Y may recognize similar cultural touchstones, but don’t forget as well either: As a catch-all category, the term Millennials actually encompasses several generations of people, some who may be 21-25 years olds, others 31-35, so don’t make the mistake of thinking they all will find the same items familiar, or hail from similar ways of thinking either.
PROVIDE A SENSE OF PURPOSE – Many Millennials crave a sense of purpose and want to feel they’re making a meaningful contribution in their work. It’s therefore important to assign them to work on projects or in roles that best match their interests and expertise. Just one quick example: If Instagram, Snapchat and social media apps aren’t your forte, perhaps assigning leadership and responsibility of social outreach programs to Gen Yers is a smart move. Leveraging emerging talent to help you utilize emerging channels to reach potential customers is just one way to create potential wins all around.
INVITE THEM TO PARTICIPATE – Also important to know when thinking about how to manage Millennials: Treat them with respect. This generation is more well-educated, more informed, and more connected than any that’s come before – and has tremendous bargaining and buying power, representing a huge segment of the population. When designing outreach, marketing, and communications campaigns, don’t talk down to them, and don’t engage in one-way conversations – they love to provide insights and feedback, and participate as well.
SUPPORT LEARNING AND GROWTH: Many Millennials (like many members of other generations) love to learn, love to expand their horizons, and love to see a clear path to achieving their goals. Make sure it’s clear to coworkers what is required of them to succeed in any given task or role, and provide constant opportunities for them to expand their learning and skill sets – as well as mentorship and volunteer options so that they can pursue personal development in a variety of ways to boot.
DON’T BUY INTO THE HYPE: If you’re a member of Generation X, you may be familiar with the stereotype of being labeled a slacker. Similarly, don’t buy into the erroneous stereotypes that Millennials lack a sense of responsibility, or expect to have everything handed to them. An ambitious and positive-minded bunch, many are hugely-forward thinking and hugely entrepreneurial – treat them with the respect they deserve when engaging with them or creating work opportunities and professional roles.
Wondering how to manage Millennials? The secret is far simpler than you think:
Victoria Cairl writes about women and work. She's is the VP of Business Development at Show-Score.com, having previously worked at Lincoln Center, The Met Museum and Disney Theatrical. She is a mentor, feminist and an entrepreneur based in New York City.