Three Ways to Effectively Engage Millennials in Today’s Workplace

June 3, 2016
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Millennials (born between 1980 and 1996) in the U.S. are on track to become the most educated generation in American history.  As the estimated 2.8 million millennials graduate from college this month with bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees, many will it difficult to land fulfilling jobs.  Consider these facts according to Gallup’s latest report, How Millennials Want to Work and Live:

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Millennials want to be engaged in their jobs, which means they yearn to be emotionally and behaviorally connected to them, however only 29% of millennials are engaged in their current roles.

 Millennials have the highest rates of unemployment and underemployment in the U.S.

Compensation is no longer the primary driver as millennials value purpose over paycheck.

Millennials are pursuing development and growth in employment opportunities over fancy latte machines and entitlements as they consider the latter to be condescending. 

Instead of fixing their weaknesses, millennials want to develop their strengths.

One thing is for certain, the merging of more millennials into today’s workforce means the will of our world is changing—and we must change as well.  Here are three ways to engage millennials in order to effectively manage them.

Coach instead of bark orders.  Millennials don’t want to be bossed around.  They want to be coached and engaged so the old-school command and control style of management must be modified.  ‘Ask questions instead of giving direct orders,’ is Dale Carnegie’s 25th leadership principle.  Weak leaders bark orders and assume all employees will comply accordingly, however to effectively manage and engage millennials, ask questions regarding a new responsibility or assignment.  For example, inquire as to how the millennial will approach a new project or how they will apply what they learned from a recent launch to future releases.  This behavior will demonstrate that you value them as a person and an employee, which is extremely important to millennials because they don’t view their job as ‘just a job’—rather it’s their life as well.

Communicate frequently via multiple channels.  Millennials are hyper connected and want ongoing conversations via their preferred channels which include texting, tweeting, Skype, etc.  They want real feedback in real time, so annual reviews will no longer suffice.  Dale Carnegie’s 8th Human Relations principle is, ‘Talk in terms of the other person’s interests.’  Don’t wait until millennials’ annual review to share feedback.  Instead, engage them in conversation regarding their current assignments, role, areas of interest, etc. to meet their needs for constant communication.  Each conversation is an opportunity to show that you value and respect their input.

Develop their strengths.  Instead of focusing on fixing their weaknesses, millennials want to be employed by organizations whose management teams seek to develop their strengths.  In fact, Gallup has discovered that weaknesses never develop into strengths, while strengths develop infinitely.  Instead of ignoring weaknesses, managers of millennials should seek to maximize their strengths and minimize their weaknesses if they hope to retain these young stars.

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