Get tips for managing a millennial or Gen Z employee. Learn the three biggest challenges associated with managing a younger employee. Plus, watch how these management challenges play out in real life.
- I have clients tell me they wish their younger employees would stop acting like their children. Here's my response. Stop treating them like your kids. Look, I get it. It seems like the workforce is getting younger and younger. And for those of us who are parents, we can't help but see glimpses of our own kids when we're interacting with younger workers. But here's the thing. They're not our kids. However, they are our responsibility. And as a leader in the organization, you'll need to figure out a way to work together and get them to give you their best.
Let me share with you three common challenges managers face when supervising younger workers and how to overcome them. The first challenge has to do with communication preferences. Generally speaking, baby boomers tend to favor face-to-face conversations, millennials prefer email or text, and Gen Zers are into Snap. Geez, when did having a conversation get so complicated? But here's the good news. Research conducted by staffing firm Randstad on managing millennials and Gen Zers in the workplace revealed that in many cases, younger workers actually prefer in-person conversations, especially when communicating with coworkers.
But rather than guess, consider asking team members how they like to communicate, and try to be adaptable. The second challenge is in convincing them to stick around. According to Gallup, millennials are the generation most likely to switch jobs. In fact, right now six in 10 millennials are open to new job opportunities. So what can you do? Conversations about career paths and development should be taking place frequently.
And give millennials opportunities to work on projects where they can learn new skills. Okay, the third challenge is around how we give feedback. Millennials in particular want and need structure. If you toss a project on their desk while running by their cubicle, you'll have to deal with the consequences. Let me show you what I mean. In this scenario, Ari, a millennial, is attempting to help her boss Janine with a weekly report. Let's see what happens.
- So, Janine, I was wondering how you wanted me to format the report that you assigned me this morning. - You know, it's really up to you, Ari. It's open-ended. I can't get into a lot of detail right now because I'm super slammed. - Oh, okay, it's just that I was hoping you could give me some direction so I can nail it the first time around. - Well, just use your judgment. Like I said, I'm really busy right now, but I'll stop by and take a look at it when I can.
- Hey, Janine, so I emailed you the first page of my report. How's it looking? - I haven't had time to look at it. - Oh, that's too bad. I was hoping that you can give me some feedback so I can make sure it's exactly what you need. - I said I would stop by and take a look at it when I can. Now, please don't interrupt me again. Just try to figure it out yourself, okay. - Okay, I guess.
- Now that looks frustrating for both parties. The takeaway here is that millennials are hungry for feedback on their work. If they aren't getting it, you can expect they'll seek it out. Let's give Janine another shot. See if you can identify what steps she takes to better manage the situation. - So, Janine, how did you want me to format the report that you assigned me this morning? - You know, it's really kind of up to you, Ari. There's no right or wrong way. But if you pull up last month's report, you'll probably get a pretty good idea of what should go on the cover sheet and what data we need to really highlight.
- Oh, okay. - All the archived reports are on the server. Do you know how to find them? - I'm not sure exactly. - Let me show you. In this folder, reports, then just drill down by months. - Oh, perfect. Thanks for showing me that, Janine. - Sure, happy to. - Think you can check in later and see how my report's going? I really want my first report to be perfect, especially before it goes in front of the stakeholders on Friday. - You know, I really appreciate that, Ari. I'm a little bit slammed today.
Tomorrow we have our scheduled meeting, our one-on-one. Do you think maybe we can go over it in detail then and I can give you my full attention? - Sounds great. - Super, I'll just add a note to the meeting invite. - Janine takes the time upfront to tell Ari exactly what she wants. Plus, she lets Ari know that they can go over the report in their weekly one-on-one. When working with millennials, whenever possible provide feedback the moment you see an opportunity to do so.
As your employee's confidence rises, so will their ability to work independently. As you think about how to best manage younger workers, keep in mind that at one point you too were a younger worker and chances are you turned out pretty well. So be patient, provide support, and watch them soar.
- The ways different generations approach work
- Managing a younger employee
- Managing an older employee or boss
- Resolving generational clashes
- Leveraging generational differences
- Training a multigenerational team