Managing and motivating millennials

Hoopla Sofware recently released a report on how to manage and motivate millennials by its founder and CEO Michael Smalls.

The 5 keys –

  1. Provide strong, involved management
  2. Connect work to a higher purpose
  3. Make recognition impactful
  4. Make work challenging, engaging and fun
  5. Leverage modern technology

I’m not a millennial – far from it, and yet, these concepts resonated with me. Perhaps we should all take a look at the actions and apply them to our situations. And if you want to know more about millennials, read the report for statistics and other findings.

Provide Strong, Involved Managed

While millennials often have no qualms about challenging authority, it doesn’t mean that they don’t want feedback and check-ins. In my role as a supervisor, I provide weekly feedback to everyone on my team. It ranges from an acknowledgement of a job well done to a discussion about how to implement a campaign to brainstorming stories to pitch. This interaction also ensures that we are in agreement on how we define success.

Connect Work to a Higher Purpose

Millennials want to see how the companies they work for are making the world a better place, and how they can contribute to those efforts, says The Intelligence Group’s Jamie Gutfreund, who was quoted in the Hoopla report.

Make Recognitions Impactful

I don’t know of any employee (myself included), who doesn’t like to be told they are doing a good job. However, I once had a boss who praised me for what I considered the basics of the job. Before long, the praise meant nothing. Praising for going the extra mile is more meaningful. It’s also important to provide the recognition when the accomplishment happens. Awards banquets are all well and good, but if the employee has to wait a year until he hears he has “done good,” it’s going to have limited impact. Finally, be sure to follow a piece of advice I was given early in my career, “Praise publicly, criticize privately.”

Make Work Challenging, Engaging and Fun [Photo of Ghostbuster doughnuts]

In working with interns, one of the things I frequently hear is, “I appreciate knowing how my work fits into the bigger picture.” That means taking the time to explain the assignment and the impact of it on the business. When an intern’s media release is picked up by a news outlet, I send a link showing where his work was placed.

doughnutsTeam meetings are important and sometimes it’s important to make them about more than just the work. When Krispy Kreme came out with Ghostbusters doughnuts, I bought a box to enjoy during a meeting. On a nice day, we might hold the meeting outside.

Leverage Modern Technology

Working in communications should mean that we are communicating on relevant platforms, including social sites. Through millennials, though, I’ve learned about apps that help me be more productive. Like them, I often get my news from Twitter and Facebook (I still also read a print newspaper). And I think more about visuals; after all, a picture is worth a thousand words.

Are you ready to work like a millennial?

Impact of Millennials

I often write about mentoring, and recently I learned a new term, reverse mentoring.

Chris Redgrave Slide

Chris Redgrave Slide

Chris Redgrave, senior vice president of Communications for Zions Bank in Utah, suggested it as an option for Boomers and Generation Xers workings with Millennials.

The idea is that instead of the older generation mentoring the next generation, the Millenials would provide the mentoring.

At work, I frequently ask Millennials about internet and technology-related issues. So, I thought I might try it with respect to NFPW members.

During an online contest discussion, several members had questions about creating PDF documents. I know the basics, but I certainly didn’t want to introduce more confusion.

I approached one of our first-timers, who also is a Millennial, and asked if she would be willing to help out. She agreed.

By the time I returned home, she already had sent me a document with everything members would need. I think I’m going to enjoy reverse mentoring!

During her presentation, Chris shared more than a dozen attributes of Millennials, some I knew, some I didn’t, and they all expanded my thinking.

Here are some of the attributes:

  • Millennials are confident, connected and adaptable.
  • They are concerned for the environment.
  • 95 percent own computers; 91 percent keep their phone than one meter away whether they are waking or sleeping.
  • 37 percent are unemployed and they do not understand the “pay your dues” concept.
  • They like direction in the workplace because they are used to being told what to do.
  • They do things as a team and they expect to be included.

Some of these attributes reinforce approaches I have at work, including providing clear project plans so all members of a project know who is responsible for specific tasks and holding meetings where we all share what we’re working on so we can identify connecting points.

Boomers: 1946-64. Suburban Experience

Generation X: 1965-76: Divorces, AIDs, personal computers

Millennials: 1980s-2000s: Internet, indulgence, 9/11

Are You Reaching Generation Y?

The other day I was talking with a friend long distance in the middle of the day. I didn’t think anything of it. A decade or two ago, I would never have made such a call because it would have cost me a fortune. I would have waited until after 11 p.m. Today, I can make a long distance call anytime I want and not worry about the cost.

Today’s Generation Y (born 1980 to 2000) – also known as Millennials – has never paid for long distance phone calls. They also have seldom, if ever, paid for the following:

  • Checking
  • Mail
  • Music
  • Wireless
  • Travel agents
  • Books
  • News
  • Directory assistance

Thinking about this, I began to research how best to interact with this group. Several key themes emerged, including that they are tech-savvy, attention-craving and confident.

Tech-Savvy: They grew up on technology. They’re plugged in 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. They don’t like lectures. They search online for answers. Because of them, I now Google my question and find my answer. If it doesn’t work, I resort to the Boomer way of asking someone but most of the time, the answer is out there.

Attention-Craving: Throughout my career, my bosses have provided constructive feedback. I seldom received praise, nor did I expect it. This generation does. I’ve had to add to my management skills. I now make it a point to praise team members on a more regular basis, especially Generation Y. I also share highlights of meetings I attend because I find that they want to be in the know.

Confident: This group is confident and ambitious. They want the best and that includes from their employers. That means they aren’t afraid to question authority. At first that was disconcerting for me as a manager, but I find that with the right attitude, it leads to a better working environment and a better work product.

How are you working with the next generation?