Leading and Engaging Millennials in the Workplace

Julie Shenkman
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Are you a parent of a millennial? Do you wonder how to effectively communicate with this younger generation in the workplace? Learn to engage millennials in the right way without alienating a very important segment of your workforce. Millennials, after all, are the future of your company.

Understanding Millennials

Before you develop ideas to lead and engage millennials, you must answer one very important question. Why do you perceive millennials as different from yourself? The answer lies in how you raised your children before they became adults versus how your parents (baby boomers) raised your parents.

Glen Sollors, senior consultant at Kwela Leadership and Talent Management, gives a few insights into this parent-child relationship and how it affects your leadership as you engage millennials. He believes many of you parented your children by letting them make decisions in their young lives, such as what they wanted to eat, how much they ate and when they went to bed. You became highly involved in your children's lives when you spent time with them because you felt guilty for working hard to provide financial security, and you also bought your kids smartphones, video game consoles and computers so they could have access to a whole new world. You also taught your kids to believe in themselves and that they could be successful at anything.

You probably raised your children with different rules compared to your own parents. More than likely, you ate what your parents provided, watched a handful of television channels and had a strict bedtime every evening.

Engage Millennials

If these differing parenting styles sound familiar to you, then you recognize why millennials are both extremely independent yet crave constant communication in the workplace. Millennials were taught that they can do whatever they want, but they grew up connected to an internet world where instant gratification and instant feedback are the norm.

Engage millennials by showing them the big picture of the company's goals while coaching them on their performance. This leadership style is like a tutorial for a video game: millennials learn the rules of the game and recognize the end game, but they have to learn how to reach the final boss battle by using their own skills and techniques.

To help these younger people learn to master their jobs, give them constant feedback that outlines strategies, conveys substantive information and communicates in a less intimidating manner. Millennials need a balance of freedom and structure. They want to complete their daily tasks and projects successfully, but they want to do so on their terms. Millennials need flexibility to do well at the office.

Millennials want to feel connected to their workplace and co-workers because their parents taught them that teamwork and collaboration win the day. This same concept drives the idea that millennials are making a difference to people through their professional lives.

Older generations must learn to adjust their beliefs, attitudes and communication styles to engage millennials. To accomplish this, you must first understand younger workers and what drives them to succeed, because what motivates them may be different than what motivates you.

Photo courtesy of photostock at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


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