Millennials – how do you manage them?

If you’re a senior executive in professional services it’s unlikely that you yourself are one of the millennials. However if you are a lawyer, wealth manager, estate agent or similar it’s very likely that you will be recruiting and managing this particular generation, born between 1980 and 2000.

There’s a danger about making sweeping statements about different generations whether they’re Boomers, Gen X, Gen Y or Millennials. I read recently that the priority for Boomers was their work, for Gen X it was family and for Millennials it was their friends. Really? I think as an overview this is useful but as ever, there is a danger in putting people into boxes.

Having said that, the ‘Boomer’ CEO would do well to realise that he needs to find a different approach to manage this group in his organisation, particularly if he wants to invest in them and give them every reason to stay.

Here are 5 things to bear in mind:

  1. Make sure you get the ‘deal’ right in the first place. Not just what you are offering them but what you expect in return. Think creatively about their reward structure and don’t just expect cash bonuses to motivate them.
  1. Help them to grow. Make sure they get the opportunity to have a variety of experiences and challenge them to come up with new ways to streamline processes and to exercise creativity. Millennials have a strong desire to work overseas and this is a valuable potential resource for organisations focused on global growth.
  1. Let them know how they’re doing: Millennials tend to want and value frequent feedback. Unlike the past where people received annual appraisals, millennials usually want to know much more regularly how they’re doing. Have regular one to one meetings with them, use a coaching style of management, and give them well thought out feedback on their performance.
  1. Set them free: Millennials love flexibility. They work well with clear instructions and concrete targets. If you know what you want done by when, why does it matter where and how they complete the task? Give them the freedom to have a flexible work schedule. Does it matter if they work from home or a coffee shop if that’s where they are most productive? Set deadlines and if they meet them, don’t worry so much about their approach and their timekeeping.
  1. Let them advance faster: Historically, career advancement was built upon seniority and length of service. Millennials don’t think that way. They value results over longevity and are sometimes frustrated with the amount of time it takes to work up the career ladder. They want career advancement much quicker than older generations are accustomed to. So your rising stars should be given the opportunity to rise up the ranks in a relatively short space of time.

Finally, regardless of whether you are rigorous about meeting their needs, you can expect them to go. There is a higher rate of churn among millennials than the other generations and therefore you need to build in some contingencies, so that your organisation is prepared for when some of them inevitably go travelling or move on.