For all the talk of lazy Millennials, the truth is that they’re the largest generation current in the US workforce. They’re a gigantic group – born just before or after the turn of the millennium, this group makes up almost 25% of the entire US population. This group is slowly but surely taking over the roles that retiring Boomers once held, and they’re now in a place to start to truly consider their futures. Understanding how this generation – and their employers – are preparing for the workforce is something that deserves a bit of exploration.
The Millennial Preparation Process
As hard as it may be to understand, today’s Millennial is, more or less, already an adult. They’ve been shaped by their families and their peers, and they’ve figured out their worldview, for good or for ill.
So, who is your average member of this generation? First and foremost, he or she has a fairly self-centred worldview. They don’t care much for their employer’s view of the world, and they’re willing to move on when they don’t feel fulfilled. They consider loyalty to an employer an outdated concept, and they’re more than willing to move even if their employers have a stake in their future.
At the same time, Millennials wanted to be challenged. They move, and they seek out the opportunity to do more when they can. Millennials stay in jobs for two years on average, less than half of the amount of time their parents spent in one position.
Millennials have an entrepreneurial mindset – they want to work for themselves, and they want to create their own jobs. They like to be coached, but they don’t want to be told specifically what to do. This might come from a lifetime of dealing with hectic schedules and structured activities, but a Millennial response better to an advisor than a boss.
Finally, the average Millennial is tech savvy. They don’t just use technology – they live in it. There’s no technological hurdle too big for them, and they expect everyone else to keep up. They’d rather telecommute than spend time in the office, and their career choices will reflect this. They know how to do networking and according to MasterAvenue it’s the most underrated skill.
A Millennial Perspective on Education
Contrary to what you may have read, Millennials are incredibly pragmatic. They don’t invest in schooling if it’s not immediately practical, and they’ll go after work experience over traditional courses whenever possible. They’d rather try to become competent in a work role than learning about the theory behind the job. Perhaps because of this sheer bloody-minded practicality, Millennials prefer certifications over degrees, seeing them as far more immediately useful in the workforce.
How to Lead Millennials
With all this in mind, it’s important to understand that leading Millennials requires a deft touch. Below are a few tips that can help you to have productive work relationships with your Millennial employees.
Give clear boundaries – but explain. While their parents may disagree, this generation does respect authority. What it does not do well, though, is follow blindly. Give Millennials a firm sense of “why”, and they’ll follow you anywhere.
Give feedback. Millennials like feedback. They’ve gotten it their entire lives, and they want it now. These are people who want to know what they are doing and want to do better. If you can coach them to become better, they absolutely will become better.
Be Flexible. Don’t be married to traditional paradigms. This is a generation that will work late if you let them come in late and will make sure they get the job done. If you can abandon the traditional ideas and instead focus on getting work done, Millennials will overperform every time.
Leverage their creativity. Millennials may tend to want to be entrepreneurs, but that doesn’t mean they can’t work for you. Identify your leaders early on and give them the space to be creative. You can take advantage of their strengths while still offering them what they need.
Changing the Future
In less than a decade, ¾ of the world’s workforce will be Millennials. Unfortunately, surveys show that most of them feel unprepared for their futures. It’s time for you to coach them and make them privy to all that you’ve learned over the length of your career. Millennials are prepared and ready, so make sure that you’re ready to teach them. With a little luck and a lot of work, you can help make sure that this generation takes the workforce better than the generation that came before them.