The Millennials

If you find yourself surrounded by a bunch of Millennials in your workplace, here are a few tips you can implement to help motivate and inspire them to do great things. But first, let’s understand what millennials are; what makes them so different; what makes them tick; and what has been their journey so far, before they got to you.

If you are a Boomer or a Gen-Xer now, you were raised in an era when “kids were seen and not heard”. You were relegated to the periphery of the family circle, with your parents occupying the hub. Today, that is completely flipped around.  The millennials are at the centre.  They run the show and their parents are now more or less ‘staff’. So much for the old Father Knows Best structure of your youth. Gone.

The same goes for your years in school. Remember when kids not only failed subjects, some even failed entire grades?  Well, no longer.  Today, they are ‘streamed’. There is no such thing as failure anymore. So much for the old Sink or Swim school days.  Gone.

And now we come to today’s professional work environment – a world that’s made up of such job titles as Chief, Head, Controller, Officer, Director, Principal, President, Chancellor, Administrator, Provost, Executive, Manager, etc.  All these are awaiting the millennials arrival. Based on what we’ve seen happen with the family and school structures of yore, what do you think the odds are of these titles, let alone the actual positions, lasting much longer?

Knowing this, how best can management survive and even prosper within this new framework? Here are three suggestions:

  1. The first is to switch from being bosses to facilitators.  We’ve all heard that bosses should become coaches and mentors; here’s your chance.
  2. The second suggestion is to restructure the organization to make it more accommodating.  Start by aligning the employees to be more project oriented, instead of department oriented.  Let the people ‘float’ among the various departments.  For instance, assign an employee in the Accounting Department to the team that’s redesigning the organization’s website; include another employee from say, Marketing, as a member of the project team
    that’s assessing and implementing new a production automation system; and allocate a third employee in Sales to help streamline the financial reporting system, etc.  In this way, employees get exposed to many more facets of the organization and thus have much better appreciation and perspective for what each department does and, more importantly, why.  These employees also bring with them new and creative ideas based on their own personal experiences and knowledge.  And, by bringing them all from a mix of departments, office politics are minimized and any fiefdom mentality is greatly diminished. This does not mean you have to sacrifice the organization’s performance or sustainability.  In fact, in most cases, organizations actually thrive and achieve even greater feats in this new model.  Take Alphabet (aka, Google) as an example.
  3. The third and most important suggestion is to let them fail. In fact, let them fail often. As you know, this is the best way to learn, and sadly, this is the one opportunity they rarely experience in either their family or their educational environments.  By you showing confidence in them and keeping them constantly challenged, they will soon eclipse their own perceived limitations.

Implementing just these three things will soon produce incredible results.  Morale, teamwork, and initiative are just a few of the benefits. There are many more. You will also see a decreased outflow of your best millennial talent.

Now, not to put added pressure on you, but time is tight.  Millennials already account for over 37% of the Canadian workforce and this percentage is growing quickly.  They may already be your largest cohort. So, time for action is now.

As you look beyond their veneer of blue suites & brown shoes, their art-deco socks, their moussed hair on top of shaved sides and back, and their neck tattoos, you will see the potential this group has. Fresh minds, fresh perspectives, fresh energies.  Definitely worth a fresh investment.

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AUTHOR: Morgan Smyth, is an Associate of Mercana and Founder of Braegen  (Since 1981) . Braegen is one of Canada’s most prestigious computer service firms. Braegen became IBM’s very first Premier Partner and has garnered several awards for outstanding quality, leadership and sustainable growth, including IBM’s Thomas J. Watson Award for Quality and Profit Magazine’s 50 Fastest Growing Companies. Morgan shares his expertise, thought-leadership and commitment to quality, to companies who are on a similar quest – to transform their businesses into Best in Class organizations.