Stop me if you’ve heard or said one of these before: Millennials…
- are lazy.
- have no ambition.
- aren’t dedicated.
- don’t take responsibility.
- overestimate their value.
- aren’t loyal.
We get it. We’ve had to adjust our screening methodology for our marketing and digital staffing teams to improve the quality of our millennial contract hires.
But here’s the bottom line: if your business is of any significant size, you’re going to employ Millennials whether you like it or not. As much as you might prefer to avoid the problem altogether, you can’t exactly ignore an entire generation if you want to run a business. And you’d be missing out on some exceptionally bright, fresh, innovative marketing talent if you did.
So it’s best to embrace this new generation, hire very selectively and adjust your management style to make the most of the situation.
There’s no silver bullet for getting the most out of your millennial workforce. But these tactics will get you on the right track engaging them, improving productivity and building loyalty.
1. Communicate. Then Communicate Some More.
Many Millennials grew up in a coddled environment in which they were constantly told they were the best or brightest– regardless of the facts. As a result, they have a strong hunger for immediate feedback. Accept this reality and overcommunicate:
- Hold regular all-hands meetings.
- Provide fair feedback: good, bad, or otherwise, in the moment.
- Shine the spotlight on those who truly deserve it.
- Should you need to release an underperforming Millennial, provide others with thorough clarity on why and how that’s being done.
There can never be enough clarity when it comes to communicating with Millennials. Give them an opportunity to speculate on any decision you make, and you’ll experience the corporate grapevine run amok. Cut down on the water-cooler gossip by getting the facts and reasoning out ahead of it.
Struggling to get the fresh talent you need to execute your marketing? We can help: check out our Millennial marketing staffing options.
2. Don’t Hold Back on Corrective Action–Or Rewards.
Millennials are notoriously cliquey. They run in packs in and out of the office. They’ll celebrate one another’s success while at the same time complaining that they were more deserving.
Provide clear, written guidelines that detail the career path to success within the organization and, when one of your marketers is promoted or offered another reward, explain in writing why she is moving to the next level. At the same time, be open and transparent as to the reasons why others didn’t measure up. Then provide a blueprint for them to follow to reach that same reward.
Though they may have seen their parents downsized, most younger Millennials really haven’t experienced job loss before. So, when a trophy kid is overlooked for promotion, the entire group feels their pain. The best way to reenergize and refocus the workplace is through open, honest, and written communications.
3. Hold High Standards for Communication.
Image source: Baylor Lariat
One complaint we hear among Boomer and Gen-X managers is that many Millennials’ writing skills are somewhere between poor and abysmal. In an industry where effective communication is everything, this spells trouble. How do you shift the writing mindset of a workplace generation that has grown up with iPhones, Facebook, Twitter, texting, and instant messaging?
Create standards for emails and other internal communications. Point out examples of strong writing within and without your organization. Reward those who display strong communications skills in meetings or through their work and share with others what they’re doing right.
4. Systematic and Transparent Accountability.
Participation trophies have trained a generation to believe that showing up and trying are enough for success and rewards. Establish standards for accountability from day one and stick to them. Giving an inch here can quickly become a yard of wiggle room.
If an area is found lacking in one of your Millennials, share your expectations for where they need to be. Then work with them to create a plan to correct the deficiency over a fixed amount of time.
If they fail to make the necessary adjustments, especially more than once, consider letting them go. Then return to Steps 1 and 2 about providing clear and timely communications to other as to the reasoning.
5. Find Value in Their Strengths
Our youth now love luxury. They have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for their elders and love chatter in place of exercise; they no longer rise when elders enter the room; they contradict their parents, chatter before company; gobble up their food and tyrannize their teachers. -Socrates
Every generation has had its issues, and in the grand scheme of things Millennials aren’t significantly worse than any others. Just look to Shakespeare, or even further back to Socrates, to find passages quoting an older generation bemoaning the weaknesses of the newer one.
On the other hand, each generation has had its strengths, too. We’ve worked with plenty of dynamic, brilliant Millennials who are no doubt at the beginning of promising marketing careers. Millennials’ digital nativity gives them an unparalleled ability to reach audiences online and adapt fluidly alongside a shifting digital landscape.
A Quick Guide for Getting More Value Out of Your Millennials
video from Mark Jewell
You hired them to make your marketing more productive and your business more profitable. Leverage their unique skills and perspective to your advantage.
Perhaps the best piece of advice I can provide you is this: Be authentic. It’s one thing to hold your Millennial marketers accountable for their misdeeds and misspellings. It’s quite another to stand in front of a team young, impressionable employees and admit that you, as their leader, are capable of making mistakes too. This generation prizes straightforwardness; providing the authenticity and honesty they crave is probably the single best way to manage the “unmanageable.”
More on Hiring and Managing Millennial Marketers
Millennial Myths vs. Reality: How to Engage and Hire Next Gen Talent
By 2014, Millennials (ages 18-35) will make up 36% of the workforce (75% by 2025). To those who buy into the common perceptions of Millennials — they’re entitled, self-absorbed, lacking commitment/loyalty — this must be highly unsettling. Particularly from the perspective of senior management looking to build an invested, focused, competitive workforce. More.
7 Benefits of Hiring Members of the Millennial Generation
Like previous generations, Gen Y can’t be lumped into one homogenous group. However, there are certain defining characteristics of today’s class of interns. Understanding and knowing how to harness these qualities can be infinitely beneficial to your business. More.