Supervising A Younger Generation

Are you supervising a younger Generation? Breath in, breath out, repeat…. and read on.

Millennials were born between 1980 and 2000 so chances are that a good percentage of your workforce is made up of them. Chances are also, if you are reading this, you don’t completely understand how to work with them or supervise them.

So, here are a few stats to help you get your head around how they think.

  • 82% of millennials believe they are loyal to their employers (but only 1% of HR professionals agree)
  • 25% of millennials believe that staying in a job for more than 7 months shows they are loyal
  • 52% of millennials say opportunities for career progression are the most desirable quality in a workplace, and 35% say the most desirable quality is good training and development programs
  • 6 in 10 Millennials cite a “sense of purpose,” as part of the reason they chose to work for their current employers

Millennials don’t show traditional respect for authority. They were raised in a more permissive (some would say spoiled) environment so they don’t recognise power based on position like older generations. You are more likely to get a millennials’ respect by building their trust, being consistent in your actions and providing them with guidance based on your knowledge and experience. Their respect will come from appreciation, not from authority.

This is the video game generation after all. The good side of this is that they are ambitious. The not so good is that they are impatient. You can take advantage of this by giving them optional opportunities for training that they can complete in their breaks or in their own time. Many of them will take up the opportunity and enjoy feeling that they are taking control of their own advancement. Also, moving them between jobs if advancement is not possible will help them from becoming too bored.

As you can see from the stats, millennials have quite a different view on loyalty than other generations. Similar to the way millennials view authority, they will not show loyalty to a company just because the company is employing them. On the other hand, they are very passionate about finding a sense of purpose. As a supervisor, you may not have control over your company’s vision and mission statement but you do have a big influence over your team. If you can develop a good working environment where team members care about results and support each other, the millennials will find a purpose in contributing to that team and will be more likely to stick around.

One of the distinctive features of the millennial’s generation is that they have a huge need for approval. This is a generation that has grown up posting every milestone, achievement and mood on social media and expecting instant feedback in the form of likes, congratulations (even for small achievements) or commiserations when things don’t work out. You can take advantage of this by giving them positive feedback wherever possible. Actively search out opportunities for telling them that they have done well. It will probably feel strange and even a little fake at first, but you will soon see results and feel more comfortable.

So, if you work with millennials, hopefully, these tips will make life a little easier. Remember that they are here to stay, and they are not changing any time soon. If you can’t adapt to their ways, it’s going to make life much tougher for you. They will just get another job.

And if you think they are challenging, Generation Z, the generation following the millennials, is just starting to make their entrance into the workforce so hold onto your hats. It’s going to be an even wilder ride.

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