First of all, millennials are incredible people, and let me also share this major suggestion with you-not all millennial's are alike! Treat each and every employee, including millennials, on their individual merits, characteristics, and opportunities for growth. We tend to categorize and label people too much, cutting ourselves off from truly learning what each individual is about and what they need for career and professional development.
The second major suggestion I would make is to ask yourself a fundamental question: What can I learn from the millennials that work with me? I had an intern who currently works for a social community development firm. Every time I get together with her, I always learn something. Our relationship has changed from coach to the person being coached to an incredible sharing type relationship. This allows me to be on equal footing with her and have a fair exchange of ideas that started when she worked with me. She hasn't worked with me for years, but we still share that type of relationship. You need to ask yourself what can you learn from your millennial's which gives you an incredible opportunity for exchange of the ways to work together.
This relationship may or may not come about organically. In order to foster this relationship, you need to engage, coach, and mentor. Here are five strategies to motivate and engage millennials through coaching:
1. Ask millennials who exhibit stereotyped millennial traits what they are going to do to not be lumped in or categorized with the rest of the millennial's. Essentially, you're asking what is your differentiating factor.
2. Ask a millennial if you have their permission to provide a perspective of them in terms of how people perceive millennials. After receiving permission, provide some perspective and then ask a similar question to number one: what are you willing to do to separate yourself and be viewed by upper-level management as a different type of millennial?
3. What are the traits you think management wants someone to exhibit for that next promotion and how will you go about pursuing those?
4. Embrace some of their communication strategies. It is quite common that millennials will prefer to text or email. One of the best things that you can do is certainly provide some ground rules around how to communicate. For example, after hours when we are not accessible via email, let's text one another.
5. Sit down and have a career development conversation. Many millennials who exhibit the traditional traits of a millennial are impatient and want that promotion by tomorrow morning. Share with the millennial who exhibits these traits, the risks of going too fast and what needs to be attained in terms of knowledge and skill to do that next job. Essentially, you're having a gap analysis type conversation.
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