On Herding Cats, Catching Falling Water and Managing Millennials

by edralyn on May 1, 2013

Climbing Up to Business Success for Young Owners

The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that the Millennial Generation or people who were born between 1981 and 2001 will make up half of the total labor force by the year 2020. No matter which sector of business you’re in, that statistic is a strong indicator of why it’s necessary to learn about what differs between managing millennials and people from previous eras.

Switching Up the Methods

An article about this new challenge on Forbes.com notes that people who were born before 1945 were extremely likely to accept any order that came their way, as long as it came from someone higher in the chain of command. Now, although millennials may not refuse a task altogether, they may be more likely to resist if forced into doing something by conforming to traditional methods. Whereas earlier generations often craved habitual routines of clocking in and out at the same times each day, millennials often base success on the ability to finish projects, regardless of what time they start and finish.

Also, many millennials perform best when given freedom of choice. That’s why your managerial efforts might get better results if you emphasize that something must be done on by a deadline, but not necessarily requiring a millennial to restrict him or herself to certain work hours, or insisting upon using tried-and-true methods.

Less Likely to Be Loyal

Female College Graduates Cap Gown IMG_5799

At the end of 2011, PricewaterhouseCoopers surveyed over 4,000 university graduates in 75 countries about workplace attitudes. Results uncovered a clear shift in a relatively short amount of time. In 2008, only 10% of people surveyed reported that they expected to have six or more employers during the course of their time in the workplace. When responses were tallied for the 2011 study, that figure jumped to over 25%, and only 18% of people admitted to planning to stay with an employer over a long-term basis.

What this means for you as a manager is that millennials won’t just stay in a job because it feels secure. Instead, they must be in an environment that nurtures talents and passions. A study from the Boston Consulting Group also found that millennials are more concerned with keeping a work-life balance than previous generations, and should be happier in workplaces that support that need.

More Flexible Job Roles

In past years, organizational charts, along with clearly defined job titles and duties, may have been a comfort to people who liked to know where they fit in with workplace objectives. However, a survey from the television channel MTV found that 66% of millennials wanted to create their own job positions, and 60% admitted that if they couldn’t find an existing job, they wouldn’t be afraid to create something that works for them. Perhaps this sheds some light on why at the end of 2012; the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that almost 15 million Americans were self-employed.

To keep millennials working for your firm instead of striking out on their own, give them opportunities to showcase their strengths, and think about tailoring some aspects of a position to meet those abilities. Also, understand that as a millennial adapts to company expectations and acquires new skills, you may need to adapt job duties accordingly.

Hopefully, by keeping some of these statistical trends in mind and responding appropriately, you’ll see that efforts to manage millennials don’t have to make you feel like you’re herding cats. Instead, you can rely on specific generational traits to get insight about how to keep younger employees happy and productive.

Stacy Hilliard writes articles for education sites that offer an online MBA program that will fit a working professional’s schedule.

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