Working With Millennials

Working with millennials can be a win/win

It seems that just about every day I hear a business owner remark that they don’t understand how to work with millennials.  Granted, these business owners are usually baby boomers but not always. There seems to be a general consensus among employers that millennials are determined to drive everyone crazy, from being lazy to entitled to sloppy to unprofessional to disloyal to just plain not doing their jobs.  If this isn’t something a business owner is discussing with me, it’s another article or post I am reading about the negative nature of millennials.

Interestingly, many of these same business owners are parents of millennials.  I am a parent of a millennial but more importantly, I hire millennials.  I not only hire them, I promote them.  Do I have some magic potion I pour on them each day?  I have written before about marketing to millennials and reciprocal mentoring.  Now I am writing to give you some personal insights into working successfully with millennials.

First, I want to remind everyone reading this to remember when you were in your 20’s or early 30’s.  Did you stick to one job?  Were you always professional?  Can you think of any missteps you might have made in your professional life?  I, for one, know that while I always gave 100% to my jobs, I did not always act professionally.  I took things too personally and didn’t always react as maturely as the situation dictated.  How about you?

Now let’s look at some tips I have learned when it comes to hiring and working with millennials:

  • They aren’t lazy but they do want to feel appreciated, heard and given challenging work.
  • They aren’t disloyal but you must treat them with respect and reward their efforts.
  • They do need to be coached/mentored about professional attire and will want to dress casually when it’s okay to do so.
  • They definitely may need some help when it comes to spelling and grammar – not all of them, but I have had to go over this one several times.  Tell them to use Grammarly, it’s great. We all use it now when needed.
  • Include them in company policy, plans, visions and goals.  They have a lot to say and much of it will impress the heck out of you.
  • They know technology.  Social media comes naturally and they can learn how to use it professionally and appropriately.
  • They can be very helpful when meeting with clients and/or customers. They really do understand how to reach people their own age; listen to them.
  • Don’t micromanage them. Let them work and figure things out.
  • Be flexible with them.  Working remote sometimes and flexible hours can work out just fine.
  • Yes, you will need to impress upon them that showing up for work, on time, really does matter.  The flipside? They will most likely continue to work after-hours even if you don’t ask them to.

Perhaps the most important thing I can say from our experience is that they are enthusiastic and eager to learn if they feel they have a voice.  They want to understand the vision of the company.  Integrity is important to them, and let’s assume that one goes for any age group.  The old company culture where titles and walls divide everyone probably won’t work with millennials.  Openness and respect are key.  I can tell you from firsthand experience that working with millennials is well worth any effort.  I constantly learn from them.  I also enjoy mentoring them to be the fantastic adults that will guide us forward.  As a baby boomer, I remember well the comments about my generation being the largest ever in American history.  We changed everything; music, dress, sex, civil rights, feminism, business, and let’s not forget those hairstyles.  Have we all forgotten how maligned we were by our parents and grandparents?  We are still the largest group of entrepreneurs and that means we need millennials to work with us.

I suggest giving it a try.  Let them show you the asset they can be.  They may just surprise you.

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