Hiring and Managing Millennials

I’m getting a lot of applications from millennials, but it seems like millennials are just looking for the next best thing and are not willing to work as hard as generations before. Is it just bad stereotypes? How do I manage their expectations and mine, and use them to move the company forward?

Thoughts of the Day: Raised to be the best inside a protective bubble, millennials may need help to succeed. Harness the enthusiasm of youth, marry it with the wisdom that comes from experience, and you’ll have a winning combination. Stop generalizing. Know that millennials want to buy in. Learn to harness a millennial and maybe one day they’ll help to run your company.

Kids raised by a generation of helicopter parents are now challenged with finding their own way. Encouraged to “be the best” while protected from the downsides, millennials come to the workplace with a high set of expectations, limited patience and low tolerance for failure.

Regardless of the generation label, most young people start jobs with energy, excitement, impatience, desire to have an impact and perceived lack of respect for what they have not personally experienced. Don’t crush their dreams. Figure out how to support and manage their enthusiasm while funneling their ambition to fulfill company goals.

Managers who have paid their dues can feel frustrated when challenged. With years of experience, they feel like the new workforce lacks respect. They may also be insecure with a ‘if I teach this kid how to do my job, they’ll take it from me’ mentality. Teach your managers how to use the new talent pool to their advantage.

Be sure to hire the right millennial for your company, get individuals into the right jobs. Emphasize company culture in job ads, interviews and the onboarding process. Ascertain fitness periodically as you guide the growth and development of new employees. Just like everyone else, different millennials want different things.

If you’ve made a hiring mistake, help them figure out where to go next. Be willing to make calls, open doors, and provide advice — whether or not the millennial is willing to use the help, is up to him or her.

Be aware millennials may not have experienced real failure, buffered by helicopter parents intervening in difficult situations. They may overestimate their abilities and get in over their heads.

Make sure they have a support structure while learning how things work in the real world. They need something they can succeed at, learning to stick with difficult, and sometimes frustrating work. Boost confidence by asking them to complete tasks within their scope as you give them higher level challenges to work on.

Millennials want to know the purpose behind their work. They want to accomplish things and expect their input to be valued. They are often idealistic, passionate and futuristic with a burning desire to make an impact. Harness that energy.

Encourage them to question things, and show them why things are presently set up the way they are. Teach them to stick with it when things don’t go their way. Build confidence and comradeship by celebrating successes when they overcome setbacks.

Give millennials projects that have milestones and expose them to a variety of tasks. Teach them how to break big projects into small tasks. Show them how to perfect ideas and presentations to navigate through a chain of command. Millennials don’t like to be bored, they need to be busy.

Make time to listen and mentor, use one-on-one meetings to teach, explore new ideas and encourage them to persevere. Try out their best suggestions, even if it means changing the status quo, and give them credit when credit is due.

Teach millennials that a team mentality will have higher outcomes than an individual. Pair young hires with leaders who have earned respect from all levels of the organization. Encourage all employees to innovate and get work done efficiently, regardless of their age. Use brainstorming sessions to gather ideas and give the younger generation a chance to voice suggestions.

Ultimately the company will win or lose. The question is how much talent will get lost in the process of negotiating personal desires and fit to culture. There’s a reason your company is bringing in new talent. It’s about more than getting work done today. Someday, millennials will be the ones leading your company into the future.

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