Freezer Burn. Random Order. Jumbo shrimp. And… Managing Millennials?

Any of the first three could be used to illustrate the definition of an oxymoron – the latter?

Not so fast.

CEOs, business leaders, and HR directors across the country took note this spring when a Pew Research Center report found that Millennials – those aged 18 to 34 in 2015 – officially overtook Baby Boomers as the country’s largest living generation.

For some, it sounded an alarm. There’s been no shortage of articles and analyses looking at this generation’s shortcomings.

But at Scoutahead, we’d say that anxiety is not only shortsighted, but also ill founded.

First, the Millennial-versus- Boomer tipping point should have come to as surprise to no one. As Boomers age and retire from the workforce, immigration is adding more numbers to the Millennial group than any other. In fact, the Millennial population is projected to peak in 2036 at 81.1 million.

Simply put, the sea change has been gradual, not tidal.

Our work places have already been grappling with – and adapting to – the generational differences for some time. From different mindsets to different communication styles, we’ve seen how our shifting employee demographic has altered our own ideas of what the workday should look like.

And if I learned anything as CEO of Chopper Trading – a firm brimming with young talent from schools like MIT and Stanford – and now the founder of a promising Internet startup, it’s this.

Millennials value growth – professional, personal, social – above all else.

Three implications to spotlight.

The more constructive feedback you can give, the better. Annual performance reviews just aren’t enough for employees who can get instantaneous reactions, comments, and advice from the web, social media, and other technology outlets. The millennial appetite for critical and growth-oriented review is insatiable. Regular and consistently delivered professional reviews are a must.

Millennials want a ‘coach,’ not a boss. It’s easy to delegate tasks and departmentalize responsibility. But Millennial employees demand more. They want a personal investment from managers in their day-to- day jobs, career trajectory, and professional opportunities. They’re ready to give their all to their work, but they want a more intimate commitment from their workplace superiors in return. It asks all of us to go above and beyond.

Millennials pride themselves not on meeting – but exceeding – expectations. It’s the logical extension of the often-lobbed accusation that this age group is “never satisfied.” And my for companies, that’s a good thing. I want employees who strive for bigger, better, bolder. I want employees who believe in breaking the status quo. I want employees who don’t see limits, but rather, opportunities. Your business should too.

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