job interview files

Who Is More Mature — Millennials or the Adults that Raised Them?

A recent article in the Washington Post got my attention — I could not resist responding to the perverse logic the reporter used to conclude that today’s teens are growing up slower than older generations did when they were young.

There are some things in the article that I do agree with and some things that the reporter got flat wrong. I happen to agree with the premise that the life stage of youth has extended a couple of years, especially for second-wave Millennials (13 to 24-year olds). Psychologist and author Jean Twenge notes in the article, “with longer life expectancies and more resources at their disposal, today’s youth can take a bit more time growing up.” Plus, part of the hand-on helicopter parenting includes longer helicopter rides, often into young adulthood. How are young people supposed to grow up when their parents help them fill out their resumes and accompany them on a job interview?

Here is where the reporter took a wrong term in her analysis: The title of the article is “Not Drinking or Driving, Teens Increasingly Put off Traditional Markers of Adulthood.” It is true that young adults are participating far less in risky behaviors like drinking and driving, having unprotected sex, drug use, participating in violent crime, etc. But it is a perverted view to assume that youth are appropriately on their way to becoming an adult because they drink and drive, and take part in illegal or promiscuous activities. Are these behaviors actually marks of adulthood and maturity? Really? What planet are you from?

According to one Millennial in a focus group conducted by Eventbrite, “It’s pathetic to be drunk and reminds them of their uncool parents.”

The article misses the larger point, that the real reason today’s teens and 20-somethings aren’t taking part in as much risky behavior is that today’s youth are simply more practical and more averse to such risk than youth of prior generations. The teens quoted in the article make valid points, including that they would rather hang out with their friends than engage in activities with serious negative consequences. However, they are also thinking more about their long-term horizons and goals — something many people don’t give today’s youth credit for doing.

Millennials are a generation of achievers, not a generation of snowflakes, as they are compared to often. They have been driven by their parents from a very early age to think about how their activity today will affect their future. So, their time horizons tend to be long-term. This is one of the reasons that despite the ubiquity of social media today, you see very little beer bong videos and embarrassing and compromising escapades by young teens. Yes, of course you will find exceptions to the rule, but by and large, Millennials realize that this behavior will have dire consequences for their career and future job prospects.

So don’t lose sleep over the fact that teens aren’t boozing it up like their parents did. In the immortal words of Pete Townsend and the Who: “The Kids Are All Right”.

managing millennials

Why Don’t Millennials Follow Directions?

Often when I’m speaking to managers of Millennial employees, I’m asked, “Why don’t my Millennial employees follow directions?” As a manager, it can be frustrating to give an assignment only to find out a week later that the assignment is not completed, or partially-completed. What’s the deal? There are two things to know about Millennials that can help you with this on-going management challenge: speed and specificity.

Speed

Since childhood, Millennials have been conditioned to receive guidance and feedback at a high degree of frequency.  Instant feedback on their computer-based quizzes and tests, Google searches, texting and Snapchatting with friends has all had a profound influence on the expectations of speed or response. Particularly in school, Millennials were tested, evaluated, graded and given feedback more often than any other generation to date. Older generations indulged in the virtue of patience simply because things took longer to happen back then. Older generations understand waiting. Millennials were not raised in an environment where waiting is a thing. Instant feedback on almost everything is the norm.

As a manager in the workplace,  consider ‘checking-in’ with your millennial employees a few times a day about the assignment that you’ve provided. You might think it is overkill, but to a Millennial, that’s normal. Frequent ‘check-ins’ allow you to assess their ability to stay on task on that assignment you’ve provided them to make sure they understand how to proceed.

Specificity

Accelerating your check-ins is key, but another important element to get Millennials to accomplish their assignments is to provide directions to Millennials with a high level of specificity. Different generations have very different viewpoints on this issue. Boomer and GenXers embrace the notion of doing an assignment their way. They revel in the independence they have—they don’t need a roadmap, they just need a goal and they will likely get it done with little or no supervision. The viewpoint of Millennials is almost exactly the opposite. They are fairly dependent on you as a manager. They want very specific directions on how to do an assignment correctly, and also an explanation for why it is important.

Why is this? It’s because Millennials were raised in a highly planned and structured environment. From childhood, their lives have been heavily managed by their parents. Even their schools advocated a highly planned and structured environment. Free time and play was not something Millennials did—everything was planned for them.  Another contributing factor in their need for specificity is that they hate to take risks and hate to fail. An “opened-ended” assignment for them is viewed as a risk. Their viewpoint is “why should I take a chance on doing an assignment the wrong way when there is probably an already proven way to do it without error”.  Be assured that if there is a YouTube video on how to do something, they are on it.

A LifeCourse Associates survey revealed: “69 percent of Millennials say they like their supervisor to provide them with ‘hands-on guidance and direction.’ Only about 40 percent of Boomers and older Gen Xers said the same.” In response, many companies are doing away with the annual performance review. It is being replaced with more frequent meetings, updates, goal tracking and evaluations with more specificity. Major companies doing this include GE, Accenture, Deloitte and more.

As a manager, make sure to provide instructions that have clear goals and clear process with a roadmap that assures them they are going in the right direction. Providing them with frequent cycles of open and honest feedback will have positive affects — increased loyalty, professional satisfaction and more employee engagement. Millennials will feel valued, cared for and motivated to meet their goals. Incorporating these two simple elements—speed and specificity means they’ll be more likely to stay with the company for the long run, ultimately reducing recruitment and retention costs.

 

second wave millennial using a mobile device

Introducing the Second-wave Millennials

Just as you were starting to figure out how to manage Millennials in the workplace, a major generational shift is underway. Coming to a workplace near you: Second-wave Millennials.

Every generation has a first wave (older cohort) and a second wave (younger cohort). Each wave has slightly different traits because they were raised by the parents of two different generations. Older Millennials are First-wavers (as of 2017, ages 25 to 35), and were raised by Baby Boomer parents. Younger Millennials, coming into the workplace now, are Second-wave Millennials (ages 13 to 24) and were raised by Generation X parents.

As an entire generation, Millennials have broad traits and behaviors that are enduring and unique regardless of the generation that raised them. But within these traits there are subtle differences based on how Boomers raised them compared to how Gen-Xers raised them. These subtleties are apparent in behavioral shifts in the workplace — and managers should take note.

These differences include Second-wave Millennials’ seeming lack of capabilities in written communications for the business world. In addition, face-to-face communication coaching may be necessary to ensure Second-wave Millennials receive adequate training and development regarding eye contact, posture, voice volume, and pace.

In addition, Second-wave Millennials may have challenges around their own ability to solve problems and think critically. Managers may need to provide training on problem-solving processes and tactics.

Lastly, Second-wave Millennials tend to have less self-awareness about their role as a team

member in a workplace setting. Navigating their way as part of a team is often perplexing to them.

Second-wave Millennials, despite these challenges in the workplace, can be developed into incredibly valuable employees. They will give their full loyalty and talent to your company if you invest in them.

CoachingMillennials has been working with a group of curriculum designers to create six training modules specifically for the Second-wave Millennials in your workplace. Our signature program is called “Developing Your Emerging Professionals: Gaining the 4 Skills Required for Workplace Success.”

The workshop covers key skills such as self-awareness, communication, collaboration, and problem-solving. Contact me directly if you’d like more information on this workshop:

warren@coachingmillennials.com, or call (703) 559-9130.

how to boost millennial engagement in person at work

How Do I Get My Millennials to Engage More In Person?

One trend I’ve been noticing in workplaces is the empty break room, where employees would typically gather to take a break from their work routine. There is a generational explanation for this, and it is not that people are necessarily working harder. The fact is that younger employees are more likely to take breaks at their desk, checking social media on their mobile device, or listening to podcasts.

“The young ones hide behind their computer and simply do not engage in person,” managers of Millennials often lament.

The Digital Footprint Started Early

Millennials are, yes, digital natives. In school and at home, Millennials had more electronicdevices and on-demand media than most Baby Boomers ever dreamed possible. With computers in the classroom and at home, the growing ubiquity of cell phones and (later) smartphones, Internet everywhere, wi-fi and video on-demand, it’s no surprise that the generation that grew up with technology is very comfortable engaging with it. In addition, the ability to work from anywhere for many Millennials has made engaging with people in the physical office less critical to productivity.

Give Them a Good Reason to Engage In Person

In recent years, some companies have tried to rein this in and force more in-person engagement among employees. Most notably, IBM in 2017 brought back into the office the company’s work-at- home employees, terminating most telecommuting options as a way to encourage more collaborative product development, comradery and even company loyalty.

Forcing employees to come into the office is, in part, an overblown response to an ongoing myth about Millennials — that they actually prefer to avoid in-person conversations with others, opting for text instead of talk. In fact, repeated studies have shown that Millennials do like in-person communication and even recognize the importance of it in their own career and professional development.

While digital modes of communication make up an important part of Millennials’ productivity and workflow, it’s not digital over in-person or an either/or choice. While some new employees may retreat to their mobile devices until they develop professional friendships, Millennials do come out of their shell and use in-person communication. In particular, they seem to prefer it to digital communications when they need to get help with a project or task, when it comes to learning career-place skills and processes, and in coaching and mentoring relationships.

Ideas to Help Encourage In-person Communications

For managers of Millennials, there are a number of ways to encourage in-person communication among Millennials and other generations of employees.

Have an open-door policy with both the physical space and with communication styles. Regularly hosting “office hours” (the way Millennials’ college professors did) can encourage Millennial employees to walk into executives’ offices and chat about the workplace, goals and strategies.

Develop mentorship and coaching programs that encourage employees to meet for lunch or coffee to discuss professional development, work-life balance and long-term career goals. Mentorship programs are one of the best ways to help make Millennials more loyal to the company and increase engagement and performance.

Create opportunities for teamwork such as professionally-related volunteer opportunities, in-person trainings and activities. Millennials are more emotionally connected to jobs in which they understand and have an active role in how their company contributes to the “greater good” in the community and in the world.

There’s always food. Last week I had a meeting at Bloomberg’s headquarters in NYC. On the sixth floor is a massive reception area with a smorgasbord of free snacks, and Millennials buzzing around everywhere. Coming out of college, many Millennials are comfortable with food-oriented activities. Few things get people away from their desks like treats in the breakroom — but managers may want to center a meeting or activity around those treats to prevent (or at least delay how quickly) those treats being taken straight back to Millennials’ desks.

how to get millennials to hit deadlines

Can Millennials Hit Deadlines?

 

It happens, and it is annoying— you set deadlines and your employees don’t meet them. But it’s more than annoying—it disrupts workflow, affects productivity, and makes everyone else’s job more difficult. Missing deadlines is a universal problem with all generations, but I more frequently hear from managers that Millennial are not hitting their deadlines.

The most common question I hear is: “How can I get my Millennial employees to actually complete a task on time?!” 

Ditch The Lazy Millennial Myth 

Many managers assume that Millennials don’t hit deadlines because they are lazy. But that’s not why. Contrary to the stereotype, most Millennials are not “lazy,” in fact- they are probably the least lazy generation in the workplace. Millennials crave “busy-ness”. They are always on the move, navigating between different tasks on multiple screens. They are multitasking masters of the universe. And this makes sense if you think about how they were raised in a hyper-stimulated environment where they had back-to-back activities filling up their schedules after school and on the weekends, driven by pushy parents.

In fact, with this high-achieving ethic, sometimes they can bite off more than they can chew and this is what gets them into trouble. This is where good management practices can help, so I have three simple suggestions to get Millennials on track for hitting deadlines.

Do These Three Things

Communicate frequently. Millennials want open, honest and transparent communication. They also crave frequent feedback — the annual review, for them, is archaic and unhelpful. Instead, very frequent ‘check-ins’ that let Millennials answer questions, receive feedback and advice, and tackle the next steps will help significantly. Instead of berating them for blowing a deadline, ask them to take the lead on coming up with the steps they will take to ensure the next deadline is met.

Set incremental goals. Employees of any age may be overwhelmed by one big, long-term project. For Millennials in particular, breaking down a big project into several steps with incremental goals and targets will help move that project along. Some workplaces have even implemented “gamification” into their workflows — using game-like systems to reward employees for meeting incremental goals and promoting teamwork to get larger projects and tasks completed on time.

Promote teamwork. Millennials grew up on organized sports teams, doing group projects at schools, and with an emphasis on the larger community (whether that was their school, church or neighborhood). In the workplace, Millennials often seek a feeling of family, community and teamwork. Ensuring they understand how their work, their piece of that large project and their deadlines will help make everyone more successful can go a long way toward motivating them.

 

concentrate at work

How Can I Get My Millennials to Take Their Work Seriously? 

This is a common question that comes up when I’m speaking or training executives who work with Millennials — “How can I get my Millennial employees to take their work seriously?!”

The idea that Millennials don’t take their work as seriously as their older professional counterparts is largely a myth. Studies have shown that in many ways, Millennials are workaholics. Almost half (48 percent) of Millennials “think it is a good thing to be seen as a work martyr by the boss,” — a higher percentage than any other generation surveyed, according to a research by Project: Time Off.

In addition, Millennials are more likely to forfeit paid time off than members of older generations, according to a Bankrate.com survey.

Work Gets Done, Just Differently

The difference in the way Millennials work is often the cause of the misconception that Millennials aren’t taking work seriously. Technology allows many employees to work anytime, from anywhere. For some employees, that means they need to spend less time at their desk in the office. Social media and online project management systems, email and mobile devices, remote desktops and more let Millennials stay connected to work wherever they are — and many sleep with their mobile devices, checking email before falling asleep and again before their feet hit the floor in the morning. (A Harris Poll survey showed 93 percent of Millennials have admitted to using their phones in bed.)

Getting the Best Work from Milliennials

If Millennials in a workplace don’t seem to be taking their work seriously, managers are often able to correct the situation through effective communication, goal-setting and mentoring.

Millennials are most engaged in their work when a few key factors are in place. They include:

  • Understanding their role in the organization. Millennials grew up with team projects and team sports, where they knew and understood their place and role in the group. They seek that same understanding in the workplace, and managers who communicate effectively about how a Millennial employee’s job is important can help Millennials feel more engaged in their work.
  • Understanding the organization’s role in the larger community, economy and world. Further, Millennials were raised with a sense of community and want to make a difference in helping make the world a better place. Millennials who know how the mission of their company aligns with their personal values, helps people and contributes to a “greater good” in society are more engaged at work. (Many companies have started encouraging volunteerism as both a team-building activity and to show corporate responsibility.)
  • Being provided with long-term and short-term goals and support to succeed. Millennials perform best when they have both short-term, achievable goals with the support to succeed, and long-term plans that include professional development and growth. Millennials like to achieve, and they look for a supportive network of colleagues to help them do so. (This train comes from their parents, teachers and coaches, who raised them in a supportive, encouraging setting and taught them they could do anything they put their minds to.) Cross-generational mentoring programs can provide Millennials with an understanding of how to grow and develop professionally over time, putting their short-term achievements at work into a longer-term context.
  • Enabling open, honest and transparent communications. Millennials are more loyal and engaged with employers who have open-door policies in the way they communicate. Millennials watched their parents fear the surprise layoff, and fostering a culture of openness, honestly and genuineness can help prevent employees from looking for new jobs based on false or incomplete information. Good communication and honest feedback can also help Millennials in their quest to achieve their goals and feel professionally fulfilled.

If All Else Fails…

If you are convinced that your Millennial employee is not taking their job seriously, start a dialogue where he or she does most of the talking and you do most of the listening. Make your case—put all the cards on the table, and do your best to listen. Sometimes it is hard to get to the root cause of the issue, especially if your relationship is strained or frustrating. If that still doesn’t work… well, not all hires are a guarantee fit to the role. But if this is happening with more than one employee, you might need some coaching of your own.

gamification

Game-ify Your Workplace

 

For a generation that grew up with Nintendo, Play Station, and Xbox 360, it makes sense that Millennials seek out fun ways accomplish tasks and achieve goals at work. It is estimated that 70 percent of the largest companies today are using some form of gamification to attract and retain their young talent.

Wait… What?

“Gamification” applies game technique to get people to achieve their goals. This is a real thing, and it is a $2.8 billion business. Think about it — Millennials have been conditioned to earn points, badges or rewards through games or competitions, and they like having targets set that are challenging but reachable with smaller goals along the way to measure progress and development.

In addition, because Millennials prefer to compete as part of a team, as opposed to individually, forward-looking companies have found ways to use game techniques in a positive way that encourages collaboration, recognition and support among employees of all ages.

A Growing Trend

According to Gartner Research, the gamification industry (primarily through apps and digital tools) will see significant growth in the next five years, with a market that could reaching $5.5 billion. There are already numerous vendors that can help businesses use the concept; one of the best known is a company called Badgeville.

Best Practices

But many companies are developing their own models and internal competitions that promote productivity. One insurance company, Chicago-based Assurance, has started a Digital High-Five program that promotes both positive, public recognition and competition. Employees can give other employees a digital high-five as a way to recognize good work. These are projected on LCD screens throughout the office for everyone to see. Employees “collect” high-fives, and each quarter the employee who accumulates the most wins an award.

Another insurance organization, Los Angeles-based Bolton and Company, hosted the “Bolton Rock Star Challenge.” To promote creativity and collaboration among employees, the company asked employees to nominate each other. Nominees received a guitar pick, and the person who collected the most guitar picks at the end of a 6-month period was proclaimed winner.

Millennials increasing believe that being successful long-term in their chosen career means meeting short-term goals and making steady, upward progress. Gamification is one way employers can help Millennials see the link between what they do at work today and how it helps their professional development for meeting tomorrow’s (or next year’s) goals.

Learn more about gamification and how it fits into recruiting and retaining the top Millennials — particularly in the insurance industry — in the soon-to-be-released white paper, “Maximizing Millennials for Insurance Agents and Brokers” from CoachingMillennials through the Council of Insurance Agents and Brokers (CIAB).

Get on the list (by providing your email address in our Newsletter sign-up box) to receive a notification when the report is released.

Fourth Turning Crisis Period

2017’s ‘Fourth Turning’ Crisis Period

A book called The Fourth Turning by William Strauss and Neil Howe is undergoing a massive resurgence in sales.

Twenty years after its original publication, its message is as urgent as ever, particularly as White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon is using it as a playbook to shape the agenda for the United States.  Private equity investors and C-suite executives have been snapping up copies, looking for clues in an uncertain financial, political, and social environment.

What is a Fourth Turning? Like clockwork, over a 300+ year period, major events in United States history have occurred in predictable cyclical patterns, repeating themselves every 80 to 90 years. The Fourth Turning has been characterized as a “crisis” period in U.S. history.

A quick look back into the last three centuries, Fourth Turnings climaxed with major wars—the Revolutionary War (1775 – 1783), Civil War (1861 – 1865), and World War II (1939 – 1945). They are all about 80 years apart. In each case without exception, an economic collapse, a disintegration of social order, and a declining institutional effectiveness preceded these wars, while a new civic order and institutional effectiveness, along with economic growth, followed them.

Each Turning lasts about 20-years, and the Fourth Turning began with the financial crisis of 2008. According to the authors, 2017 puts us smack in the middle of a Fourth Turning.

Check out this article I wrote for Leader’s Edge Magazine to learn more about the cycles of history, clues as to why we are in a Fourth Turning crisis period in U.S. history right now, and what it could means for your business. And make sure to check out my new Fourth Turning landing page with information and links to articles on the topic.

I am scheduling speeches on this topic in the next few months for conferences and executive teams. Email me for availability. For more information and to see some sample slides, click here.

Regards,

WW

How to Attract and Keep Blue-Collar Millennial Employees

Over the past two decades, the nature of hourly work in the United States has changed dramatically — with blue collar jobs making up a smaller percentage of hourly jobs and technological advancement that has yielded significant growth in productivity.

The result: A drastic decline in the demand for blue-collar workers, and a simultaneous “graying” of that workforce. As industries like construction, transportation and warehousing continue to add jobs and grow, being able to attract, train and retain Millennials will be critical to the health of those industries.

Unfortunately for the current leaders in these industries, Millennials — the very workers who in the years to come will be needed to replace outgoing blue-collar retirees — have shown little interest in blue-collar work.

For example, there is a declining percentage of 25- to 34-year-old workers in construction (6.9 percent in 2015, down from 7.9 percent in 2000). According to a 2013 Georgetown University study, 35% of 18- to 24-year-olds worked in a blue-collar job in 1980. By 2010, that share had dropped to 19 percent as the population of people that age in the United States grew.

Why is this happening? In addition to lower demand in some sectors, like manufacturing, blue-collar work has acquired a stigma that drives away Millennials, including stagnant or low wages, a lower quality of life in these careers and more. Millennials who are choosing hourly jobs are often seeking out those that do not necessarily require continuing education or apprenticeship-like training, such as jobs in sales.

How can managers in these blue-collar fields ensure they’re sending positive messages to potential Millennial employees?

Millennials grew up with specific, unique traits that seem to be remarkably inclusive and cut across demographic categories like race, gender and social class. These include being raised to feel special and central to their parents’ lives, feeling protected, believing they can do anything, being team-oriented, and feeling pressured to succeed and achieve.

For hiring managers, this means there are specific, actionable strategies they can use to attract and retain Millennials in their industry. They include:

  • Making Millennials feel like an important part of the team right away by helping them understand how their roles and responsibilities have a positive effect on those around them.
  • Providing counseling and support on life basics such as preparing taxes and saving for retirement, in addition to giving training on “soft skills” so they behave properly in the workplace.
  • Cultivating an upbeat environment and plenty of positive (and frequent) reinforcement that they’re on the right track toward achieving their goals.
  • Equipping Millennials with ways to obtain additional training to advance in their careers.
  • Emphasizing teamwork over individual competition in the workplace.
  • Defining and putting context around how the job they are doing makes a positive difference in the world around them.

In addition, hiring managers must make dedicated efforts in the hiring process to highlight the long-term career potential and growth in these fields. Counter negative assumptions and stereotypes with success stories and early, positive associations. For example, RV manufacturer Thor Industries offers tours to eighth graders and their parents, and also has a presence in schools that lets both audiences know about the well-paid, stable work environment the company provides. The marketing campaign Go Build Alabama, that highlighted above-average earning potential for skilled laborers and emphasized construction as an accessible field to people without college degrees, helped boost applications to apprenticeship programs in the state by 73 percent. Other states have started replicating the program.

Hiring managers should also promote teamwork and leverage Millennials’ team-oriented attitudes. This means recruiting friend groups and creating immersive, multi-day orientation programs that allow time for new hires to bond with their new co-workers. Allow connections during the workday through social media, text messaging and more without assuming these tools are hurting productivity — they can be incorporated into the ways Millennials are used to working.

On an individual level, Millennials appreciate having clear goals and frequent feedback as they work toward those goals. Millennials want tight cycles of feedback (not just a one-per-year performance review) because they have an innate desire to succeed and please those above them.

Managers and executives should also leave the door open for new hires to contribute their ideas. In industries where there may not be much room for this type of input, make it clear how the work Millennials are doing is integral to the team’s mission. Don’t be shy about expressing appreciation for both their work and their ideas. In addition, emphasize how the work their doing helps the larger world or offer volunteer opportunities to increase professional engagement and fulfillment.

While hiring managers of hourly workers in blue-collar industries say the jobs they offer can offer a steppingstone to a fruitful career, it is up to those same hiring managers to convince young job-seekers of this. That requires a new approach to hiring and coaching Millennials.

 

Millennial Engagement, Innovation and Creativity at Work

Almost a year ago, I started CoachingMillennials with two Millennials — my son, Nick, and Georgia Howe, whose father Neil Howe I had the privilege to work with and has done significant research and writing on generations. We continue to research, write and speak about Millennials in the workplace, Millennial issues and more.

This year, we want to tell stories of Millennials who are creative, driven and innovative. To do that, we’re asking to be connected to the hardest working, most inspiring (and inspirational) Millennials you know.

Let me know where you see inspired, motivated Millennials in your workplace, company or organization. Please email me at warren@coachingmillennials.com with your suggestions and connections.

While Millennials aren’t necessarily digital addicts, they are digital natives and are used to both taking in and presenting information in multimedia. We plan to use video, social media platforms and more to let Millennials tell their own stories about engagement, innovation, and creativity at work.

Narrative is an ancient and powerful medium. It inspires and transforms. It plants seeds of innovation and change. A vast majority of workplaces fail to reach their potential. But some do — and we want to go in-depth on how Millennials are helping. What are their stories? How did they do it?

We look forward to finding out from Millennials themselves and sharing with you this year.

Warren

workplace performance review

Millennials, Professional Feedback and the New Performance Review Model

If Millennials had their way in the workplace, the “annual performance review” would go the way of the fax machine and punch clock.

Millennials grew up with “Google” as a verb, as in “to google” virtually any answer to any question. More recently, services like Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa and other digital concierges make finding information even more effortless.

But technology is not the only catalyst that has conditioned Millennials to receive instant and frequent feedback: Ever since they were young, Millennials were tested and graded at an alarming frequency, all to track their short and long term goal attainment.

Millennials are uniquely conditioned, more than any other generation, to expect speed and frequency– especially as it relates the their performance goals. The dreaded Annual Performance Review, which was never very popular, is fast becoming an antiquated relic, especially for Millennials who crave real time feedback.

Studies have shown that Millennials appreciate hands-on guidance and direction from their supervisors on a more frequent basis, unlike employees from older generations. In a recent LifeCourse Associates’ survey, “69 percent of Millennials say they like their supervisor to provide them with ‘hands-on guidance and direction.’ Only about 40 percent of Boomers and older Gen Xers said the same.”

Providing frequent and tight cycles of honest and open feedback will more-than pay off in productivity and employee engagement. Engaged employees feel valued and have more professional satisfaction, tend to be more motivated, more likely to meet their goals, and more likely to stay with a company in the future.

Some of the top-rated companies and best places to work for have all but ditched the traditional, top-down annual performance evaluation in favor of more frequent, 360-degree reviews. These includes GE, Adobe and Deloitte.

Learn more about how to coach and retain these goal-oriented and feedback-craving Millennials in this white paper, “Employer’s Guide to the Millennial Generation: Your Six Keys to Maximizing Millennial Performance.”

Download the white paper here.

 

4 More Millennial Traits

Last week, we wrote about how Millennials were raised by their parents to feel special, sheltered and confident. Those three Millennial traits mark that generation’s personality, shaped by their parents and the prevailing cultural influences of the times.

But there are four more traits of Millennials worth paying attention to: Team-oriented, Conventional, Achieving and Pressured.

Team-Oriented

There’s a reason why group fitness classes are more popular than ever before: Millennials are the most team sports-oriented generation in history, thanks to the rise of organized sports and parents who focused on group participation activities for their Millennial children. This started early for Millennials, in schools that emphasized group projects and team collaboration.

This team focused orientation set the stage for Millennials’ preference and expectation of working in teams in the workplace. It also sets the stage for managers to play more of a coaching role. The managers who want to attract and retain the best Millennial employees should consider taking on a “coach” role. This means:

  • Building relationships is important, as Millennial employees want to feel like they belong to a team working toward a larger goal or the “greater good” in their career.
  • Cross-generational mentorship is appreciated by Millennials, who want to feel connected to people in other departments, be coached by people with more experience and want to feel part of a community.
  • Embracing open communication and frequent feedback will make Millennials feel welcome and like an important part of the workplace team.

Conventional

It is counter-intuitive to think that “youth” and “conventional” go together. The Baby Boomers led the way in their youth to be unconventional, anti-establishment, and counter-cultural. GenXers followed the Boomers lead by being non-conforming, but in a different, more rule-avoidance way. Millennials, on the other hand, are a truly conventional generation in may respects.

Gallup research revealed, “In addition to finding steady, engaging jobs, millennials want to have high levels of well-being, which means more than being physically fit. Yes, millennials want to be healthy, but they also want a purposeful life, active community and social ties, and financial stability.”

Millennials are waiting longer than their parents and grandparents to get married, have children and buy homes, but not because they don’t want to follow the conventional path of owning a home and raising a family. Millennials are delaying those things due to economic circumstances, i.e.–student loans and tenuous employment situations.

For employers, this means providing Millennials with predictable, stable opportunities to grow their skill set, and a clear career path. Millennials don’t like to “wing it”. They would rather have a plan that extends well into their future and know what to expect for their long-term development. Make sure you provide plenty of opportunity to explain benefits like health insurance, 401ks, and other benefits. Research has shown that Millennials tend be the most conservative when it comes to investing their money. They save at a higher rate than other generations, and are less likely to have their money in the equity market.

Achieving

Millennials want to achieve. Contrary to the common media narrative, they are an ambitious generation that wants to make a difference in their lives and the lives of others. As previously noted, Millennials’ parents were more involved and more positive in many ways when it came to how they were raised. Parents had high expectations for their Millennial children, that they can achieve anything they put their minds to and the sky is the limit

This was reinforced as they became older with historical markers that would have been improbable in the past, such as the first black president, the first female Presidential nominee of a major party ticket, and a wildly successful Millennial entrepreneur Mark Zuckerberg who transformed the way all generations communicate.

Another indication for this ethic of high achievement is their education level. “Millennials are on track to be the most-educated generation in history,” according to the Pew Research Center. In 2015, about 27 percent of Millennial women had a bachelor’s degree or higher by age 33, and 21 percent of men did. Those are higher percentages than Generation X, the Baby Boomers or the Silent generation by age 33.

So, how does an employer manage an achieving generation? First, never dumb down your message for Millennials. It is condescending and they will see right through it. Set high standards in performance in the work that they do. Be clear about benchmarks and reward them at each step of the process, not just upon completion of a goal. Remember—Millennials grew up in a 24/7 news cycle, texting and IMing. Speed and frequency is important.

Pressured

A lot of that high-achieving attitude Millennials have comes from the pressure they feel to achieve. A survey conducted by Inc.com revealed 67 percent of millennials said they felt “extreme” pressure to succeed, compared to 40 percent of Gen-Xers and 23 percent of Boomers.

In addition to having highly-involved parents and frequent “measurement” of their progress in school, Millennials feel pressured to succeed at a younger and younger age. “In a strange way, the fact that most millennials’ parents raised them thinking ‘the sky is the limit’ and ‘you can do anything you believe you can,’ then when they don’t immediately find success, they feel bad about themselves, and pressure to ramp it up,” wrote Dr. Rose Kumar.

In the workplace, this means recognizing the stress that they are feeling. A stable salary and clear expectations of their role goes a long way to reducing this stress, and can really improve performance, but smart companies are taking it up a notch. Wellness workplaces, programs that encourage physical exercise, a balanced diet, meditation, and a healthy social network are all part of a growing trend in the workplace that all generations can benefit from.

One common theme that runs through all four of these traits is the need for employers to set clear expectations. Research performed by Gallup found that one of the strongest correlations to workplace performance was an employees ability to understand what is expected of them.

Employers shouldn’t “wing it” when it comes to attracting and managing Millennials. Have a plan. Be clear. Think long-term.