You’ve probably heard this story before.
There are countless employers and business owners who seem to have a huge problem with the generation of millenials. You may have come across a study or two a few years ago, a study that told you, quite passionately, how it is such a struggle to hire millenials. How they appear to be so self-entitled. Or how they only care about the latest trends in online shopping. (Does ‘how to get the best products in Luxo Living’ ring a bell?) On the other hand, millenials are also described as being too absorbed, if not by their own selves, then by their own gadgets, with concerns such as the latest Apple music app. Without a doubt, many businesses might be tempted to say that these millenials are good only as prospective clients, or as targeted traffic for online shops.
Here’s the thing though: whether you like it or not, millenials do make up a considerable portion of the whole workforce population. And whether you like it or not, you are going to have to face up to the fact that sooner or later, your resistance to hiring them is going to give way to them, given that their population is certainly growing. So, before it’s too late, it’s still the more prudent decision to begin hiring millenials, but while you’re at it, learn how to mentor them, too.
The Need for Mentoring
Perhaps, one thing that ‘grown’ and ‘mature’ people like to overlook is that millenials aren’t solely responsible for growing up the way they have. The generation of these youngsters’ parents (including you, if you’re one of them) seem to have raised them under the assumption that these kids were going to solve the world’s problems. And so now, the world is full of young people who (mistakenly) believe that the entire world is theirs for the taking.
Remember those times when you told your kid she was capable of practically anything? That she simply needed to set her mind on it to make it happen? That all she needed to do was to conceive it, then she could do it? Well, this is your kid now, the one you’re calling self-entitled.
If you look at the situation, what these kids really need is not another lecture. They have probably had too many of those and they’re certainly not going to sit for one now. As their employer, it’s your job to see that what these kids need is a mentor, someone they can look up to, someone who can teach them that while it’s not true that they can have everything, they can certainly achieve things, but only through good and decent work. Yes, you need to learn to mentor them.
Needless to say, there will be difficulties. There will be times when you will come face to face with them and they’re currently struggling with a project that was due five thousand weeks ago. And although that was certainly an exaggeration, you still can’t understand why in the world these kids are finding it so difficult to meet a deadline. You’ll be tempted to fire them.
But don’t, please don’t. At least, not yet. Before you go around throwing your own tantrums, feel free to keep reading this article. Maybe, you’ll realize a thing or two about being the mentor these kids never got the chance to have.
Quick Tips for Mentoring Millenials
- Space, space, space – Gone are the days when mentoring meant close (sometimes too close) coordination. These millenial employees enjoy and thrive in an environment that affords them the necessary space for them to do their jobs. Micromanaging will only lead them to feel that they’re not being trusted.
- Go for goals – Millenials come from a tradition of being rewarded for winning medals. While you certainly won’t be giving them medals, you can use this perspective to your advantage. Instill long-term but workable goals in your employees, and watch the eyes of your millenial light up.
- Keep the ‘face’ value – You know how these kids grew up. They grew up with gadgets given to them to shut them up or make them ‘behave’, they grew up with messaging, texting, and social media-ing, so they kind of have a problem with interactions that happen face to face. As their boss, however, it would be great if you can challenge this by always keeping things personal. If you need to give them feedback on their work, whether positive or negative, be sure to do it while looking into their eyes.
- Put them in a team – Millenials work better in teams. Some employers enjoy shutting their employees up in a corner and expect all the work to be done by the end of the day. This is sadly not the case with millenials. Keeping them by themselves only triggers certain emotional responses that will also affect their output negatively, and surely, you wouldn’t want that. These kids need a team where they can feel that they belong, a team they can consult with, and a team that has their back.
- Know that they need to be encouraged – Forget about how you used to work independently, not needing anyone else’s words of affirmation. Forget about the fact that this is how you define ‘work ethic’. For these millenials, things don’t work like that. Once in a while, they need to know that what they’re doing is right, that their initiative is in the right place, that they’re helping significantly in achieving the goals of the company. Give them that needed pat on the back, and they’ll go on and work even more diligently.
In the end, while you certainly don’t need to fill you ranks with millenials, you do have to realize that the way to go is not by keeping them out of your company. Instead, as you’ve seen, the way to go is welcoming them in, and learning how to make them stay.
Start mentoring, and see the difference.