Lee Caraher (proud Generation Xer) wrote Millennials & Management: The Essential Guide to Making It Work at Work. Here are her tips for working with—and learning from—the next generation.
Don’t call them entitled. This is a myth. Millenials grew up in a time of grade inflation, sports where everybody wins, and everything is a negotiation. Understand where they’re coming from. They’re not entitled; they just don’t know any other way.
See also: Get the Best From Millennials
Always address the why. This group doesn’t start projects until they understand why they’re relevant to a bigger picture. This is a tech-savvy generation; they’ve been told they can change things right away. They are used to instant gratification. They want to understand the impact of their work. So before assigning a project, put it in context.
Soft-pedal the hierarchy. Yes, pecking orders exist in offices. But millennials came of age in a technological era where everyone and anything was an email or a click away. They’re not afraid to march into the CEO’s office with advice. If your office has a hierarchical structure, explain it, and assure them that you’ll help them navigate it.
See also: Be a Multi-Generational Leader
Set expectations. This is important because there are major linguistic differences for millennials and older generations. For instance, to a boomer or Gen Xer, a “draft” means a polished version. To a millenial, it means ideas or loose concepts, thanks mainly to using Google documents and sharing programs where they can pool ideas and constantly edit in real time. Or, if you need something by the “end of the day,” realize that millennials are used to working late at night or early in the morning, whereas “end of the day” might be 5 p.m. to you. Explain what you want, explicitly.
Let them be your translator. Just as you should mentor younger workers in office culture and expectations, realize that they can teach you stuff, too, especially as it pertains to technology and social media. P
Photo credit: Photographer’s Choice