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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.

 

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.

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.

insurance recruiting millennials

How to Maximize Millennials in Insurance

The insurance industry is boring. At least, that’s the way Millennials see it.

Research by the Insurance Institute last year revealed that “boring” was the #1 word Millennials associated with insurance. Those with experience in the industry know that is just not true, but how does the insurance industry break this misperception?  And how can agents and brokers change it?

In many ways, Millennials want from their jobs the same things as previous generations — competitive salary, good benefits and meaningful work. However, Millennials have different priorities and expectations of their workplace and require different best practices to be happy and fulfilled in their career.

Insurance agents and brokers should consider re-thinking their activities to meet these priorities and expectations. These three areas are the building blocks, will be able to attract and retain the best and brightest Millennials.

First Impressions: Digital and High Touch

The first area is getting Millennials’ attention. Doing so will take a coordinated combination of a strong digital presence and a personalized approach to recruiting. This includes a website that is clean, uncluttered, shows the insurance company’s connection to the demands of digital media and showcases the company’s mission and value proposition. As digital natives, Millennials’ first impression of a company often comes digitally. This may mean going beyond a company’s website and focusing on career-focused online presences such as Glassdoor, certain social media platforms and more, in addition to being responsive and approachable both online and off.

Workplace Environment: Teamwork and Positivity

According to the Deloitte Insurance Outlook 2017, technological innovation will be key to meeting challenges in the coming years. Fortunately, digital tools can help with the second area ­of focus — creating and promoting a company climate that is positive and team-oriented. Millennials prefer teamwork over competition and gravitate toward conscientious employers who try to make a positive difference. In addition to showcasing this company culture online as a recruitment tool, Millennials will be more loyal to companies that foster their career development, help them achieve their professional goals and publically value their contributions.

Managing Millennials: Mentoring and Coaching

Once your insurance organization has recruited and hired these top-tier Millennials, managing them on a day-to-day basis with close but nurturing supervision, mentoring and coaching. Millennials desire more hands-on interaction with and more frequent feedback from their supervisors than older generations. Good relationships are key to keeping Millennials engaged, and they are attracted to open and honest leadership that encourages input and collaboration.

To learn more about attracting, recruiting and retaining the best Millennials to your insurance company, get on the list (by providing your email address in our Newsletter sign-up box) to receive a notification when the report, Maximizing Millennials for Insurance Agents and Brokers, is released later this year from the Council of Insurance Agents and Brokers (CIAB). The report will include examples from insurance companies large and small that have found success in this area and specific action items your agency or brokerage can take to engage Millennial employees.

 

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.

 

Busting Myths: Millennials have No Loyalty in the Workplace

If you hire a Millennial, you can’t expect them to stay around long. At least, that’s what most employers think when they hire people who are in the early years of their career.

But it turns out that Millennials do not “job hop” any more than young people of previous generations. To the extent that they do “hop”, it is more about the younger employees’ search for their professional strengths, interests, and career paths, according to a study by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

If you want your best Millennial employees to stick around, you need to understand that for Millennials, loyalty is a two-way street. If an employer is not investing in Millennials’ professional development and satisfaction, there’s a good chance they’ll say, “Adios, amigos.”

According to a survey done by Deloitte earlier this year, 44 percent of Millennials say, if given the choice, they would like to leave their current employers in the next two years — particularly if “there is a perceived lack of leadership-skill development.” More than six in 10 Millennials (63 percent) say their “leadership skills are not being fully developed” at work.

Other reasons for lack of loyalty in the workplace for Millennials are “feelings of being overlooked, compounded by larger issues around work/life balance, the desire for flexibility, and a conflict of values.”

How to Ensure Millennial Employee Loyalty

Fortunately as an employer, you can do things to ensure Millennial loyalty.

Companies should capitalize on aligning company values to the personal values of their top Millennial employees. More than 80 percent of Millennials who plan to stay with their company for at least another 5 years believe their personal values are shared by the organizations they work for, according to Deloitte. This is a strong indication that Millennials choose to work for and stay with employers whose values reflect their own.

Millennials would prioritize the sense of purpose around people rather than growth or profit maximization. This is one of the reasons that the three top fields for Millennials are education, environment and healthcare, research shows.

In broad terms, Millennials’ personal goals are more traditional. They seek a good work/life balance, they want to own their own homes, and they strive for financial security that allows them to save enough money for a comfortable retirement. The ambition to make positive contributions to their organizations’ success and/or to the world in general also rate highly. As an employer, assisting Millennial employees in reaching some of these goals can help engender loyalty.

The companies that are successfully keeping turnover down and instilling a long-lasting sense of loyalty in their Millennial employees seem to have common themes:

  • Identifying, understanding, and aligning with Millennials’ values
  • Supporting Millennials’ ambitions and professional development
  • Having a mentor

The Deloitte survey shows that loyalty to an employer is driven by understanding and support of Millennials’ career and life ambitions, as well as providing opportunities to progress and become leaders. Having a mentor is incredibly powerful in this regard. Those intending to stay with their organization for more than five years are twice as likely to have a mentor (68 percent) than not (32 percent).

Like all generations, pay and financial benefits drive Millennials’ choice of organization more than anything else.

“But when salary or other financial benefits are removed from the equation, work/life balance and opportunities to progress or take on leadership roles stand out. Those factors are followed by flexible working arrangements, deriving a sense of meaning, and training programs that support professional development. An employer that can offer these is likely to be more successful than its rivals in securing the talents of the Millennial generation.”

Every incoming generation changes the shape of a workplace. Boomers brought long-hours and an almost devotional approach to work. GenXers brought work-life balance. Now Millennials are making their own footprint — a flexible, purpose-driven workplace that has lots of professional development opportunities.

 

Millennials in the Workplace: Meeting Them Where They Are

Understanding any generation — and working with them effectively and productively — means knowing how they were raised. It is important to “put yourself in someone else’s shoes,” and consider Millennials’ upbringing, how they have been raised and what they value.

In leadership, you cannot fully utilize an individual team member’s strengths unless you really know them and know where they’re coming from. To develop Millennials professionally, it helps as a manager to communicate the way that they understand, taking into account their perspective.

There are certain hot buttons that can spur a Millennial to higher levels of engagement and activity.

  • Members of the Millennial generation were raised to feel special by parents who engaged with them, made them feel wanted and important, and were actively involved in their lives. For employers, that means a more hands-on, self-affirming approach to management that visibly and positively rewards them for accomplishing their goals. Here is where a coaching model to managing really works. (And no, you don’t need to buy a box of trophies. A simple gift card to Starbucks for a job well done works just as well.)
  • Millennials were raised with teamwork, collaboration and community-mindedness. They played team sports, worked on group projects in school and volunteer work was a routine part of their education.
  • They grew up with rapidly developing technology and are comfortable communicating in new ways, across management levels and in an open and honest manner.

Employers should meet Millennials where they are. Here are three ways employers can to do that to encourage professional growth and commitment:

  1. First impressions are everything. For example, you’ll never get their attention if your website is cluttered, difficult to navigate and uses outdated technology. The message that sends to Millennials is that your company isn’t forward-thinking and technologically savvy. Ensure your website is mobile-friendly, clean and has up-to-date content, in addition to addressing why the company’s mission matters and what the company does for its community and to better the world.By doing that, you’ll actually attract other generations, too! A great example is wsandco.com, the website of Woodruff Sawyer & Company, an independent insurance company whose website is both well-designed and speaks to the company’s role in the community and world.
  2. Personalize outreach with high-tech and high-touch elements. Give Millennial candidates the chance to speak to both top executives and newly-hired employees.Millennials are keen on transparency and on open and honest communication across professional levels. Millennials are used to being able to reach colleagues and higher-ups through multiple, convenient channels and want to work for CEOs who follow through on promises.
  3. During the recruitment process, give Millennials a chance to speak with not just with human resources staff and their direct potential manager, but with recently hired employees and top executives, too. Recruiters should maintain frequent communication with Millennial applicants, too, without sacrificing formal niceties.

In the onboarding process, schedule immersive orientations in order to build a network of trust among their new peers and foster a sense of community. Welcome Millennials like it’s a privilege to work with them.

A just-released white paper from Coaching Millennials goes over six simple strategies every employer can use to attract, manage, and retain the best Millennial talent. Along with meeting them where they are, the white paper discusses coaching millennials with feedback, creating a positive environment and more. Download the white paper (free) here.


white-paper-frontt

Download the free white paper here from Coaching Millennials.
Download Guide

6 Keys to Maximizing Millennial Performance

There are more than 100 million Millennials in United States today, and this growing group already makes up one-third of the workforce. With an increasing number of Millennials in the workplace, businesses are smart to ensure they are helping members of this generation perform at their highest levels.

A new white paper from Coaching Millennials tackles six ways to boost their productivity, engagement and leadership capabilities.

Millennials do their best work in environments and workplace cultures that are open and transparent, incorporate consistent feedback on short-term and long-term goals, and nurture teamwork.

Millennials gravitate toward positive environments, and research and experience have shown that a “tough love” approach to managing Millennials is not effective. This white paper, titled “Employer’s Guide to the Millennial Generation: Your Six Keys to Maximizing Millennial Performance,” provides insights and practical steps you can take to maximize your Millennial employee’s professional performance.


white-paper-frontt

Download the free white paper here from Coaching Millennials.

Download Guide