Managing Millennials: three common mistakes

For millennials, there is no decade that feels more confusing or overwhelming than your 20’s.

The mid/late-20’s is that weird, in-between phase where we’ve worked too hard to settle for an entry-level position with a salary and set of responsibilities that a young professional straight out of college would take, yet we aren’t naive (or entitled enough) to demand a managerial title and an assistant.

bn360 kickoff

networking with fellow millennials

Seeing as how it can be a difficult time for young professionals themselves, managing and engaging these young professionals can be a difficult task for employers.

Through my experience, I’ve found that there are three common mistakes a company can make that will immediately turn off their millennial employees, defeating their drive and dedication:

  • Ignore our ideas: millennials are eager to share and contribute. Even if our ideas might be not be realistic due to the organization’s mission and/or budget, we like to know that they are at least listened to. We want to know that our creativity and out-of-the-box thinking is valued and appreciated. Similarly, we understand that it might not make sense to implement the ideas we have – but we want to know why. We are eager to learn and value the supervisor that is willing to talk it out to help us better understand. The fastest way to shut a millennial down is to give the “no” without the “why.”
  • Focus only on salary: while we are definitely eager to earn more, millennials aren’t just focused on their paycheck. We want to know that there is room for growth and advancement in our company. Feedback is very important to us, as is the ability to see ourselves getting increased responsibility and autonomy. Similarly, since some of us are just starting to buy in to the health insurance plans offered by our employers (because we can no longer mooch off our parents’ insurance,) we want to know what the benefits look like: are they affordable? Do they give us flexibility when it comes to choosing doctors? Are we given flex-time or a 401k? Millennials aren’t just looking for a paycheck; they’re looking for an overall package that meets their needs for advancement and achievement.
  • Set strict hours: we understand that you need us in the office. We also understand that you need us to get our work done. However, we can’t understand why you can’t compromise. Millennials are used to working “on the go.” We use our smartphones more than we use our laptops at home. In order for us to stay dedicated and engaged, we need to feel like our work-life balance is valued. We thrive under a boss who lets us leave the office early for a doctor’s appointment or an educational conference. We applaud the CEO that allows us to work from home when it’s too snowy to drive safely into the office. The more flexibility we are given to maintain our treasured work-life balance, the easier it is for us to happily say yes when you ask us to go above and beyond.

While the above are just three things, my goal is to speak to a bigger problem which is the disconnect between what millennials really want and what employers think they want.

I can only speak for myself when I say that I don’t need a treadmill desk or an office dog. I do want to put in the time and do the work.

…I just want to know that I’m doing it with a team that considers and values my ideas, an organization that provides me with feedback and opportunities to grow and a boss that respects my work-life balance.

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