What is the formula for effective team management? It may seem like a cliché, but communication is key. Without an open dialogue between employees, Millennials are often misunderstood and, as such, managed incorrectly leading to conflict and confusion. We now work in businesses located across multiple geographies, within teams made up of multiple generations and over a remit requiring multiple disciplines. With such high demands on our time and skills, Millennials must be put in a position to thrive.
In order to get the best performance out of a group of people, managers must have a firm grip on what motivates them and how they like to operate.
The juggling act of guiding a workforce towards a common goal is the ultimate challenge for managers across all industries. In order to allow a team to gel successfully, managers and employees alike must make the effort to look beyond generational stereotypes and get to know each other without assumptions or judgement. Below are five hot spot areas that tend to be triggers of misunderstandings with Millennials. By acknowledging these character traits from the offset, managers will be able to communicate far more effectively to their team and consequently lead them to success.
The “Me” Generation
Millennials are task-driven, goal-orientated and ambitious. At first appearance, this can come across as self-centred and isolationist. By misunderstanding their intentions, colleagues can get the wrong impression and subsequently mismanage their team. In reality, these characteristics amount to Millennials being dedicated to completing tasks to the best of their ability, for the good of the wider team. Such focus and drive adds real value to a workplace, and shouldn’t be viewed as an obstacle to team cohesiveness. Millennials seek clear instructions, job descriptions and responsibilities so they can assess how best to fulfil their role whilst putting their own, personal stamp on it. If managers come to appreciate these traits, they can quickly challenge employees to meet targets, spur them on to exceed expectations and contribute to the wider ethos and community spirit of the business. By turning what could be seen as a negative into a positive, managers can move one step closer to maximising productivity within a multi generational team.
A social mindset
Generation Y has grown up in a world packed full of consumer technology, big data, social networking and, as a result, an ‘always on’ attitude. This can be a common trigger for misunderstanding and frustration between generations in a workforce. For Millennials, adopting ‘the latest thing’ in technology or social networking is just part of every day life. In contrast, older generations feel like they are playing catch-up. By way of an example, some younger employees will be keen to add their managers as ‘friends’ on Facebook or ‘connect’ on LinkedIn as a means of building workplace relationships. The very nature of the Internet and social media means that Generation Y is much more interested in on-the-spot, instant communications and feedback, rather than organic development and team building. In order to successfully manage young talent, managers must be able to communicate with them using media and methods consistent with their lifestyles.
In the eyes of their parents or grandparents, Millennials can be seen as ‘flaky’ when it comes to career choices. Past generations often stayed within one company and job role for the majority of their professional working life leading to them often being misunderstood. Millennials view career moves as a means of developing and gaining more experience. Given the testing economic climate where budgets are being stretched and teams reduced, individuals have to “brand” themselves in order to stand out from the crowd. Instead of viewing Millennials as risky long-term investments, managers should encourage their entrepreneurial efforts and channel them towards the greater good of the business.
Valuing professional skills
Although Millennials tend to be highly accomplished with various university degrees and diplomas, the development of professional skills like communication and etiquette is just as important. Technical/functional skills or can be taught and measured are highly sought after but are often the product of professional education. Workplaces must accept the responsibility of helping Millennials learn their ways of working that primarily come with experience. Here managers must act as a bridge between eager Millennials who are keen to learn and more experienced employees who have years of experience to draw upon. This melting pot of skills, if stirred in the correct way, could produce a highly trained and knowledgeable team.
How different employees choose to use their time can be the source of conflict and cohesiveness in equal measure. Millennials tend to view time as a valuable currency that shouldn’t be wasted. They would rather make the most of the technology-enabled workplace that allows for flexible, remote working and new methods of collaboration via video conferencing and internal social networks. Fundamentally, they are keen to get their jobs done efficiently in order to maintain a healthy work/life balance. Gone are the days of staying late just to “look good”! As a result, it is essential for teams to receive training on the tools available to them so all individuals feel comfortable and liberated.
Never has the cliché ‘communication is key’ been truer than it is within a multi generational workforce. Managers must embrace a role as facilitator to mutual learning and respect between generations. If individuals are judged on their strengths and contribution rather than according to generational stereotypes, businesses will benefit from having cohesive and symbiotic team structures. Misunderstandings with Millennials can be a thing of the past if people take the time to listen and learn.