“Leadership is not about the next election, it’s about the next generation.” Simon Sinek
Managing the enigmatic millennial employee. It is a question that seems to have stumped a lot of CEO’s recently. How do you get a generation of workers to focus on the tasks you need to get done when they are concerned with their own self-esteem, progression and how they are making an impact on the world.
Millennials are often ridiculed and dismissed as narcissistic and unwilling to work hard, often despite their efforts and without evidence. It isn’t their fault!
However, every generation marginalises and complains about the generation that takes over. If you keep going back, you will find complaints made against baby-boomers, the lost generation and countless other generations that all sound suspiciously like the complaints made against millennials.
Accusations of laziness, entitlement and lack of patience abound as far back as you can see, and yet somehow these statements glow red-hot with extra intensity when directed at millennials.
Not everyone has given up hope however. Simon Sinek, one of Ted Talks’ most popular and memorable guests is a strong advocate for understanding with the younger generation. His talk How Great Leaders Inspire Action is listed as the third most popular TED presentation of all time and he spends his career trying to teach business leaders to focus on educating their staff and find success in talent and growth of their team.
“We can’t all be good at everything. This is partly the logic behind having a team in the first place, so each role can be filled with the person best suited for that role and together, every job and every strength is covered.”
Simon’s comments on the Ted Talks was difficult for a lot of millennials to swallow. His theory that they had grown up expecting instant gratification, while the rest of the world preached patience struck a chord with much of the audience.
Whether positive or negative, it can’t be denied that there is a lot that businesses can learn from Simon’s insights.
With that in mind, we found three things that Simon teaches that can help you manage your millennial workers better.
Encourage a healthy work-life balance
“The message is correct, but it seems to have been exaggerated and misinterpreted.”
Younger generations want to have a clear separation between their working lives and their social lives. Many come into the work space thinking they are able to stop thinking about their work as soon as they leave, but the lines are often blurred.
While it is key to offer your staff benefits in order to be both attractive and competitive against other employers, you need to remain realistic with your own expectations and ensure that the employee understands what you expect them to do. Creating a healthy, flexible working system that empowers our staff to manage their own time is a great way to motivate millennials to working harder in their work hours and be more productive.
Give helpful feedback
“Millennials say they want feedback at work but what they really want is praise and to be told they’re doing well. When you give them negative feedback, they cry or quit.”
While this isn’t the case with a lot of the generation – and it can be argued that this is also the case with a lot of other generations – feedback can be hard to manage with millennials.
Taking time to consider what will constructively help a staff member to progress is a vital skill that business leaders need. Managing expectations, being critical and honest, but respectful and offering advice on how to improve and really challenging millennials will help to soften the blow and boost both of your progression.
“There was a time when greed was good and parents raised their kids encouraging them to be individual and put themselves first. Whilst really great in theory, parents were also pushing their kids to get the top grades, focus on rankings and make money, which left them conflicted.”
Living at a million miles an hour, seeking instant gratification and only expecting the very best is a problem that many millennials are guilty of.
Sometimes it can be hard for anyone to take a step back and put things into perspective and be patient in their approach to their career.
Instilling a sense of patience in your team and teaching them to focus on the baby steps will be key to success.