I was in a coaching session today with a client who is a self-professed “Millennial.” We were talking about his need to clarify exactly what it is he wants and then create the narrative to clearly articulate it to others.
He gazed down and lamented the sweeping perception of his generation as “being entitled.” So, when I said, “I think you guys have gotten a little bit of a bad rap,” he looked up with raised eyebrows. I continued, “I think Millennials can be a company’s greatest asset. And here’s why…”
Millennials are changing the world, as we know it. And they are certainly impacting the way we do business. Unlike any previous generation, this one is characterized by their commitment to living and working in a way that is aligned with their core values and sense of purpose. Millennials are often misunderstood, especially in the workplace. More than anything else, they want to feel connected to the work they do, to add value and make a contribution at work and in the world.
Gallop identified ways for companies to tap into their greatest asset- their people- and shift their organizational culture to meet the needs of this new generation. Here are some of the most critical things to understand about Millennials in the workplace.
1. It’s not about the paycheck- it’s about purpose
It’s not enough to get a big fat paycheck. Millennials are seeking meaningful lives. Their work has to be aligned with their core values system. They need to feel like they can be the same person at work and at home and that there is no need to compromise what’s important to them in either place. They will take lesser pay for greater purpose.
2. Don’t give them a ping pong table, help them grow
While a fun, lively office environment is appreciated; Millennials will choose personal and professional growth over foosball tables, latte machines and free beer any day of the week. Invest in them and give them opportunities to improve and they will stay committed to you and the company.
3. Skip the annual review and give consistent, real-time, useful feedback
Millennials are used to communicating constantly via text, email, social media etc. Waiting for an annual review doesn’t fit with they way they communicate. Have frequent conversations about performance and expectations and give timely feedback that they can use in the moment to shift and change.
4. Help them develop their strengths rather than fix their weaknesses
If you want to retain and attract exceptional talent, place people in roles that maximize their strengths and limit the need to overcome weaknesses. Weaknesses shouldn’t be dismissed entirely, but Gallop has discovered that weaknesses rarely, if ever, develop into strengths, while strengths develop infinitely.
The potential benefit that Millennials bring is limitless when they know their value and feel that they make a generous contribution to the organization. Harness their commitment by consistently giving them opportunities to grow and develop.
So, how did I leave it with my client? After letting out a sigh of relief he said, “Well that’s a refreshing perspective. I like it. I really don’t think that feeling connected to what I do is too much to ask.”
And I don’t either!