What Millennials Want – Part II

millennialsIn the first installment of What Millennials Want, I shared my nephew Sam’s insight about what Millennials look for in a job and what motivates this often-misunderstood generation. Today’s installment shares who you need to be.

Who is an ideal supervisor (with what ideal attributes) for a millennial?

            For me, an ideal supervisor is someone who is accessible and down to earth. Someone who doesn’t “drink the Kool-aid”, i.e. pragmatic about the business but still supports corporate strategy. Someone who can translate long term goals and objectives into smaller, quick wins. I think as a generation we lack the patience that the older ones do. We are so used to having everything at the touch of a button (entertainment, knowledge, directions), that we also seek that instant gratification in our working lives. The 10,000 foot view that might motivate older employees tends to be a little overwhelming and intangible to us. So a leader that can bring focus and specific goals and direction to millennial employees would be ideal. Quick wins that are also impactful to the organization are doubly enticing. With the right leader and the right work, millennials will work harder for them than their grandparent’s generation. Work life balance is less defined for millennials than other generations. In college we were used to working around the clock for something that is important to us, and we are willing to do the same for an organization that can provide us with meaningful work.

Millennials also thrive when they are put in a situation where they can multitask. I can’t do just one thing at once or I feel like I am wasting time (I can’t just watch TV for example, I need to be doing something else at the same time (cooking, painting, etc.). I also want to be multitasking at work – working on a bunch of different projects at the same, wearing many hats (have a functional role in multiple parts of the organization). I think that we are energized by these types of roles. As a generation of learners, we also want a role in an organization where we can be constantly learning new things and growing (multi-tasking). A lot of my peers have switched job titles multiple times a year, either in the same organization, or by bouncing around between employers. The long grind from entry level position to management is not something that interests us. Our paths tend to be more winding, with side steps, or even downgrades into different functional areas of an organization. We are driven by what is new, exciting, and above all meaningful rather than $$$. 

I want to be connected to work 24/7. We are all constantly connected to each other through Facebook or text message, and work needs to be the same way. I need to have access to my work email 24/7 and be able to text my boss when I need them. Text here is the operative word. As a generation I feel like we despise voice mail and email is too unreliable for communication (sometimes no answer for days…). So text really is the preferred method of communication. For more formal conversations, phone calls work, provided the individual is accessible, nothing turns us off more than not being able to get through to someone on the phone.  

If you’re a small business owner wondering how to work better with the Millennial Generation, here are the key take-aways:

  • Millennial Generation employees want to work for and become true leaders, not just managers. This can give you an advantage over large corporations looking to hire in this competitive market, as you are the organizational leader.
  • Millennials want to “own” something, they want to learn, they thrive on multi-tasking. Give your Millennials some room to run and use their muscles. Their styles may be different than our own, but it’s their style and it works for them.
  • Baby boomers believed that corporate titles and salary equated to meaningful work; if we’re a VP and make 6 figures, our work must be important. Millennials saw that definition not always working for their parents and they pushed the definition farther – they want work that impacts the organization and ultimately to society and the world.
  • Millennials prefer texting to email, online information over print, immediate feedback and information over delayed. Instead of getting frustrated, adapt to their style and you will see a dramatic improvement in communication.
  • Millennials want to use tablets, phones and laptops, not desktops! This doesn’t mean that Millennials are lazy (as I’ve heard our generation say); in contrast, they want to be connected to work 24/7, but not necessarily be at the office.

If you truly want to grow your team, to develop leaders who can grow your business and eventually run it for you, have a meaningful conversation with your millennial employees or even a family member. Open your mind to these take-aways and implement some changes.

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Helen Dutton, A Vision of Your Own, has provided business and personal coaching for small business owners since 2000, providing online and face to face coaching for entrepreneurs, small business owners, start-up businesses as well as established businesses across the country. Clients come from New Hampshire, her home state, but she has also acted as a mentor to business owners in Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, the Denver area, and closer to home in the Boston area. Helen helps her clients develop their small business ideas, create marketing plans, improve operation efficiency, build customer service systems, build management and leadership skills, and develop confidence as a business owner. Helen provides business tips and resources through her blog and her newsletter, where you can also find business templates to help your business prosper.