- Millennials have a unique perspective on their careers that managers need to understand.
- Rather than just explaining what to do, managers also need to tell millennials why a task is important and needs doing.
- To get the best out of millennials, managers should support their desire for work-life integration.
By Susan Muldowney
Compulsive job-hoppers. Entitled narcissists. Unreliable slackers. These are just some of the unflattering stereotypes directed at millennials – the generation set to comprise 75% of the global workforce by 2025. But surely this cohort, born between 1980 and 1994, isn’t that bad.
Consultant Kevin Phillips has worked as a conduit between millennials and their bosses for 15 years. He says the idea that millennials are a bunch of narcissistic slackers is off the mark.
But, he adds, millennials have a unique perspective on their careers that is unlike any other employee group. If you take time to understand their motivations, you can manage them effectively. Here’s how to do it.
1. Explain why their job matters
Millennials want more than a pay cheque, says Phillips. They are looking for a sense of meaning in their jobs.
“Despite the stereotypes, their innate drive is to work hard,” he says. “They’ll work even harder if you can align their job with the mission of the company.”
Rather than just explaining what to do, Phillips advises managers to also tell millennials why they should do it. “Explain how their job fits into the bigger-picture purpose of the organisation,” he suggests. “This will tap into their desire to be doing something meaningful.”
“Explain how their job fits into the bigger-picture purpose of the organisation.”
2. Manage their FOMO
FOMO (fear of missing out) describes the anxious feeling that others may be having a good time without you. Accelerated by social media, FOMO is now part of millennials’ professional lives.
“They are curious about what’s happening at various levels in the workplace. Older managers generally deal with it by saying ‘it has nothing to do with your job’,” says Phillips.
But millennials have grown up with constant access to information. While some company information is confidential, Phillips suggests managers consider if there is any harm in sharing non-confidential details with millennials to help manage their FOMO.
“They generally don’t understand why information is not being shared with them, so if it is not possible to share it, explain why, rather than just tell them not to worry about it,” he says.
3. Support work-life integration
Millennials want more than work-life balance, says Phillips. They want work-life integration.
“They want to be allowed to stop work during the day to take care of personal matters because they know they can come back to it later, and they are comfortable bringing work home,” he explains.
“Older generations can find this difficult to accept because they generally want to stay at their desk from 9am to 5pm and leave their work in the office.”
To get the best out of millennials, Phillips says senior managers should support their desire for work-life integration and set expectations about when work needs to be delivered.
“Their perspective on work may be different to yours, but that doesn’t mean they won’t get the job done.”
Managing Millennials: The Ultimate Handbook for Productivity, Profitability and Professionalism
Managing Millennials: The Ultimate Handbook for Productivity, Profitability and Professionalism by Kevin Phillips explains how to change your management style to suit the goals and objectives of the millennial workforce.Download from the CA Library