Every so often, a generational shift occurs in the workplace. Sometimes, it can take years for the changes to be noticeable, while in other cases, it can seem to happen overnight. For IT resellers who are seeking to stock their sales team with fresh talent, the ever-widening generation gap can come as something of a shock.
Generation Y and millennial workers may be the wave of the future, but finding management methods that resonate with them can be a real challenge. Is it possible to make the most of younger workers’ already-legendary creativity and dynamism without losing your marbles? Yes, but it’s going to take some planning—and some patience—on your part. Here are some ideas that may help you connect more effectively with your younger employees.
Work on work/life balance. For today’s younger employees, it’s all about working to live, not living to work. Everybody knows that they’ll have to put in long hours from time to time, but most Gen-Y and millennial workers aren’t willing to commit to 80-hour workweeks indefinitely. Temper your expectations accordingly.
Solicit their input and opinions. Younger workers don’t do well in organizations defined by the old-fashioned paradigm of hierarchical, top-down authority. They think respect is earned through hard work, rather than strictly on a seniority basis. If you have a younger worker with exceptional skills or knowledge, ask for their help when you have a tough decision to make that overlaps with their area of expertise. Today’s younger workers like to feel that their contributions count.
Focus on outcomes, not process. Many younger workers are proudly non-conformist, and they’ve often developed some unorthodox work habits along the way. If the work is getting done to your satisfaction, try not to sweat the small details. Focus on the quality of the end results, rather than the wacky work processes.
Implement an informal mentorship program. Today’s younger workers have a keen sense of irony and cynicism, and thus might be suspicious of an official, formally imposed mentorship program. However, you can achieve many of the same results by assigning younger workers to informal professional development partnerships with senior staff members.
Appeal to their altruism. Today’s younger workforce has a sense of civic engagement and responsibility that is unprecedented in recent memory. Assign your younger workers to projects and accounts that deal with public service, non-profit organizations, or other philanthropic enterprises. This will help them achieve the sense of personal fulfillment that recent research has identified as an important component of job satisfaction for many Gen Y and millennial workers.
What’s your best suggestion for managing younger workers? Have you had positive or negative experiences with your Gen-Y and millennial employees? Share your feedback in the comments.