Category Archives: Multi-Generation

Moving the Needle by Motivating Millennials

Millennials now make up about 40% of the US workforce. As Baby Boomers retire, these youngest workers who were born in the 80’s and 90’s are becoming more important than ever before to the success of your organization. Companies that engage this group will win, while those for which Millennials are a mystery will struggle.

There are things Millennials have in common with everyone else. Boomers, Gen X, Millennials, and our youngest employees (Gen Z?), all like to be recognized for doing good work. Who doesn’t like to be appreciated? Also, everyone needs their basic needs met. A reliable paycheck, pleasant work environment, and other base-level considerations must be addressed. That’s the foundation. Here are some ideas to consider, and some things to avoid, as you take the Millennial motivation and management challenge more seriously.

Do These Things

Help Millennials understand the meaning behind their work. Why is what you are asking me to do important? How does it affect others in the company? How does it help our customers? How does this work move us forward in our mission? These and other questions should be answered to get Millennials engaged. It’s not that they enjoy playing 20 Questions; rather, they want to understand how their work is important. Help them connect the dots.

Engage Millennials by showing them corporate values are real. Nearly every industry has been affected by Millennials’ search for authenticity. Whether considering the food they eat, the cars they drive (if they do at all), the clothes they wear, or where they choose to work, Millennials want to know your words are backed by action. If your actions are inconsistent with stated goals and values, you can expect Millennials to head for the exits.

Spend time with career planning. How do you see your youngest employees progressing in the organization? Have you shared this by discussing it directly with them? If not, you run the risk of losing talented people to other organizations that present a more compelling vision. Your Boomers might have been OK with a no-news-is-good-news approach, but that isn’t going to work with your youngest employees.

Respect them and ask for their opinions. Millennials come from different parenting and educational experiences than earlier generations. Relationships have been less rigid and more open. They expect their opinions and ideas to be heard and respected. If they don’t get this chance, they will find somewhere else where their contributions will be considered.

Don’t Do These Things

Expect loyalty. This isn’t your fault. Millennials are a product of the economy they have witnessed and experienced. They know nobody who has experienced lifetime employment with the same company. On the contrary, they have seen parents and others laid off in round after round of downsizings. They do not expect to be with you forever, even if you try to convince them otherwise.

Set rigid work rules and requirements. Why, exactly, do your employees need to be in at 8:30 AM? Why do you want them to dress a certain way? “Why?” is a big question, so be prepared to answer it effectively. If not, you run the risk of being seen as a fossil who makes rules “just because we’ve always done it that way.” You will also alienate this group and lose some great people.

Talk about shareholder value. Millennials are not interested in making the shareholders wealthy. This will be especially true if shareholder interests are in conflict with some other social value. See the comments about authenticity above.

As Millennials continue to grow in importance in the workplace, their contributions can make a significant difference in the performance of your organization. By getting this intelligent, tech-savvy, high-energy group engage in their work and your mission, you can move the performance needle to new highs. Get to know your people and what’s important to them so you all (yes, even your shareholders) can reap the rewards.

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Learning Dynamics can help you maximize the contributions of all generations in your organization. Ask us about Managing a Multigenerational Workforce and other training programs to help your company invest in people.

Leading & Developing Millennials: 4 Tips

Millenials Gen YDeloitte’s 2014 Millenials Survey offers insight into the youngest working generation’s thinking that many of us might not have considered. These early-career professionals, and future leaders of our organizations, have strong opinions on the role of business and how they evaluate an organization for which they will or are currently working. One of the strongest opinions – three out of four said this – “believe their organizations could do more to develop future leaders.”

What are some things that your organization could be doing to say, “Yes, we are developing the next generation,” and mean it? Here are some ideas:

Give Challenging Assignments: The same survey said that over three-quarters want to work for innovative organizations. Having the chance to contribute creatively can make a difference. How can you stretch your young professionals with assignments that will energize and challenge them?

Formalize Mentoring: Match an experienced person with a new leader, and give them the time that they need to work together. Document the progress. Formalize the program with objectives and measured outcomes. Celebrate success.

Invest in Training and Development: This might sound self-serving coming from a training organization, but it makes a difference. Create a program to allow young professionals the opportunity to earn their way into advanced skills and leadership training. Publicize the program, the participants, and the results.

Mission & Values: Ask for Ideas: The survey also says that Millennials want to work for an organization that makes a difference. This doesn’t necessarily mean non-profits; it does mean that your organization can make a positive impact on society while earning healthy profits. Encourage their insights, creativity and values. Tie this into your other initiatives.

Most importantly, talk to your team. They will tell you what they are thinking if given the chance. If you need more help, contact us at Learning Dynamics for training and organization development solutions.

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Learning Dynamics offers customized training solutions for organizations of every type and size. Managing a Multi-Generational Workforce is one of our programs that can help you engage your company’s next leaders.

Engaging Your Multi-Generational Team

One of the most talked about topics in management circles is employee engagement. How can we get our people more engaged? We know that engaged employees are more productive, so how can we create an engaging environment? Why do some employees respond while others seem indifferent? How can we get buy-in from our oldest and youngest employees?

In an exhaustive review of the literature concerning engagement and generational differences, Nancy M. Schullery of Western Michigan University (Business Communication Quarterly, June 2013) describes the significant differences in how the Millennial, Gen X and Baby Boomer generations view the importance of intrinsic, extrinsic and other elements of the workplace. We won’t try to summarize a 15 page paper in a sentence, but one takeaway is that younger people place more value on the rewards of the work than their older peers. There are many other differences.

Knowing that supervisors and managers will have to lead and engage people from across multiple generations, what are senior executives to do? How can they fulfill their responsibility to provide the resources to their junior leaders so that they can get needed results in an ultra-competitive economy?

First, understanding that there are differences in what motivates employees from different generations is a start. The 60-something Boomer might enjoy the work for its own sake; the 23 year old Millennial is probably more interested in the paycheck that enables non-work activities.

Second, everyone in a management role should know how to balance the needs of the organization with the varied needs and wants of the employees. No matter what, the work stills needs to be done.

Finally, leaders need to be ready to deal with the inter-generational conflicts that will inevitably happen. Emily, the pierced and tattooed administrative assistant just might have a difference of opinion with James, her ex-military 40-something Gen X boss. Handling these situations quickly, professionally and effectively is critical.

If your organization is not realizing and appreciating the varied viewpoints of its people, chances are you are missing out on an opportunity to maximize engagement and effectiveness. Training your leaders to expect and manage differences can make a big difference. Harnessing the talent of your entire team is worth the effort.

Learning Dynamics can help you develop the skills to develop and manage a multi-gen workforce. Facilitator-led and e-module training solutions are available.