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Apr 03

Dave Conrad: Millennials are not that different | Local Business | postbulletin.com

Dear Dave: I am managing and hiring many millennials to replace the baby boomers who are retiring. All I hear from other people and other managers is how different they are and that they are hard to manage, mostly because they think differently and have different values. Are they that different and how can I motivate them? P

 

Dear P: The millennial workforce is huge. According to some estimates, millennials (born 1980 to the mid-1990s) will make up 75 percent of the workforce by 2025.

 

I, personally, do not think millennials are that different from any other generation who has worked and has tried to use their skills and talents to the best of their ability, while trying hard to maintain a work-life balance. As a college professor, I teach a lot of millennials and they are — as a glaring generalization — very motivated people, who have core values and dreams just like baby boomers, or any other generation.

 

It appears that, in the last 10 years, we have heard a great deal about generational differences in motivation, attitudes, behaviors and career management. I think — at the end of the day — we all want the same things: rewarding and fulfilling work, free time to enjoy ourselves, good pay and benefits, autonomy and a chance to grow and develop our talents and skills. I don’t see generational differences in these basic wants.

 

However, some research paints a different picture. Research shows millennials also have the unfortunate reputation of possessing a sense of entitlement, or a poor work ethic. Many are labeled for having “hovering” helicopter parents, a desire for instant gratification or a need for an award or medal for just for showing up. They are stereotypically cast as somewhat lazy, opinionated, narcissistic and difficult to motivate. Whether such descriptions are accurate is a matter of opinion — not mine.

 

Even further, a 2015 Gallup Poll found millennials are the least engaged group in the workplace, with only 28.9 percent saying they are engaged at work. This is not much different from other research measuring employee engagement at all age levels. So, we don’t have a generational engagement problem; we have a total workforce engagement problem.

 

Motivation thoughts

In order to work effectively with any generation, it’s important not to stereotype but to focus on common goals and determine how all generations can work together. Here are some ways to motivate millennials and just about any other generation for that matter.

 

Be a coach and mentor: Partner workers with outstanding employees they can model themselves after. Mentors can and should provide both constructive feedback and praise (as appropriate). Frequent feedback keeps people on track and I think everyone wants to know how they are doing.

 

Offer opportunities for growth and development: People want to become better at what they do. Accordingly, provide opportunities for training and education so people can become more of what they are and desire to become. Then, pay them well for their superior performance.

Respect their desire for autonomy: Most people desire the freedom of autonomy — to be independent and not have management micromanaging them. Independence is a basic human need — though, people must prove they have earned it.

 

Instill a sense of purpose: Explain and focus on the big picture and how each employee fits into it. Employees want to know why they are doing tasks and what they are contributing to the company as a whole. Explain team and company goals, and tie their work to them.

 

Provide opportunities for work-life balance: Offering flexible schedules is a great motivator for many people. Rather than requiring they work from 8 to 5, offer them an opportunity to leave early if they complete their tasks.

 

In summary, every generation has desires, wants and needs. Find out what engages, excites and motivates them and supply these things thoughtfully, actively and constantly.

Notice: This website is a repository for our posts that go out to the world, but is not used as out primary messaging medium. The absolute BEST way to reach us, and follow our posts, is on LinkedIn. We have a group there, entitled The Workforce Productivity and Compensation Institute, and you are welcome to visit and interact with us there. To visit the group, go to: https://www.linkedin.com/groups/8567153/

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