There is this increased trend in Higher Ed that has to deal with working with a millennial. People are studying us, writing dissertations on us, devoting their professional careers to our generation just to figure out how we tick. Well, I’m here to make it easy and give you the 411 insider knowledge. There are a few things that millennials all have in common when, if put to practice, can unlock the key to our hearts and positively impact the work we do. (For those who don’t know what a millennial is, check out this Wikipedia article. Wikipedia, I know, is a very millennial thing to use as a resource. But hey, I consider myself a millennial so it’s OK, right?)
1. Recognize us
“Everybody gets a trophy” is a phrase you may have heard regarding our generation, and one that almost makes it so that we seek constant and special recognition. This isn’t the case. Most millennials, while craving recognition, simply seek acknowledgment for the work that they’ve done. We aren’t needing a trophy, plaque, certificate, or anything like that. Just simply pat us on the back and say, “That piece of work you did was great.” That was easy enough, wasn’t it? However small the recognition is goes a long way with a typical millennial and keeps us motivated to pump out exemplary work. You could consider this quote true with some millenials: “Appreciation is more important than achievement.”
2. Stop talking about us as if we are some kind of plague to the world
You may have heard or said something to the affect of, “You’re a millennial, aren’t you…” or “You MUST be a millennial…” Most times I’ve heard these statements, its been with some type of tone that makes it seem as though being a millennial is unwelcome and unwanted in a worker. As previously stated, people are researching us, questioning us, and just generally trying to find out how we work and the best ways to support us. I have to wonder if such research was conducted on Generation X or the Baby Boomers, because it almost feels as if we millennials are an invasive species that are choking the ecosystem and killing off all living things in our path. Simply not true. I think people should embrace that we are millennials, that we come with a specific set of strengths and weaknesses as a generations, and that we all aren’t the same. Everyone varies and just because we were born in 1990 doesn’t mean we all tick the same. Which leads me to my next point.
3. Take advantage of our uniqueness
Every millennial is different. Period. Find out what our individual strengths, weaknesses, interests, and challenges are. Then, use those to your advantage. I happen to be talented with video technology, so ask me to make you some promotional videos, fun videos, document training, etc. We enjoy being put to use in unique ways that are of interest to us. If we are required to do a task that is challenging, see if you as a supervisor can spice it up just a bit to make it easier for us to focus and continue working on it. Even if you are unwilling to do that, just check in with us periodically and ask us, yes ASK US, how you can help to support us. Being a millennial is, contrary to popular belief, a very individualized identity with each person needing different methods of challenge and support. What works for me may not work for another who is considered to be a millennial.
4. Teach us independence
According to some sources, millennials are said to be sheltered having grown up in an age with extensive safety and security laws, overprotective parents, and an increasingly sanitary environment. Because of all of this, some might find it more difficult to be that self-starter that is super important to most jobs. Well, try to teach us to be self-starters and self-motivated to complete tasks. Some of us have had our parents directing every move we’ve made thus far, and therefore need to learn independence not just in life, but in our working world. Everything you can do to positively benefit working with a millennial can be focused through teaching independence and intrinsic motivation. However, you may get lucky and find that you have a millennial who is already great at being independent, so find ways to challenge them further, too!
5. Group work keeps us engaged
Millennials love group work. Well, most anyway. Find opportunities where you can put 3 or 4 millennials in a group, assign them a task, and let them run with it. Dividing the work, completing tasks, and holding each other accountable comes naturally to us. There is rarely groupthink, back stabbing, and laziness in a group of millennials who are given a good project and clear instructions. Just make sure to check in periodically and give some guidance, because there is nothing that we hate more than being given a project and no instruction…
Most of these tips can apply to employees of any generation, and hopefully more so be helpful to working with the millennial generation. Yes, these are pretty subjective, but what self-righteous, confident, achieving millennial wouldn’t think that they are the best words to ever grace the blogosphere?
Recognize me with your comments, and let me know what has worked well for you when working with the millenial generation!