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.