Effective Ways to Connect with Your Millennial Employee

by Lundyn Carter

When it comes to managing Millennials (those born in the mid-70s to the early 2000s) most Baby-Boomer and Gen X managers are stumped.  It is most likely that your boss has a Millennial at home that calls them mom or dad.   Your boss may feel like they “know” you and how you should be managed because after all, they’ve raised someone from the same generation. This is not the case.

It only takes a quick Google search of the words Millennial and engage to find hundreds of articles, studies and blogs right before your eyes.  Unless you live under a rock, it’s common knowledge that 5 years from now, Millennials will make up roughly 75% of the world’s workforce.  This statistic tends to make some Baby Boomers and Gen Xer’s want to cash in their 401-k’s and book the next flight to Key West. But for those of you who are still around, listen up! There’s only one option: Embrace us. Embrace our talents and unique ways of thinking.

So what now? What advice could a Millennial such as myself possibly give to my predecessors?  Is it even possible that a generation born with a cell phone in hand can provide valuable advice to Baby Boomers and Gen Xers? Is it possible for a 47 year old Sr. Manager to have a genuine connection with a 24 year old Account Manager? The answer is simple: Absolutely! There’s no other option.  In order for a true connection to form, there MUST be a willingness to embrace the unfamiliar and become vulnerable in ways we may have not had to before.  That being said, here are a few ways to connect with your Millennial employees:

Make Room for Meaningful Relationships

The first factor that will engage Millennials in the workplace is as simple as it is essential: relationships. If you want your “twenty something” year old direct-report(s) to contribute in a substantial way, you must develop a connection with them.

“Let us into the conversation. If you don’t want to listen to what I have to say, I will find someone who will!”

Teach Cultural Discernment

Millennials need help learning how to apply their emotions and thoughts to today’s cultural realities in the workplace. Millennials need guidance on engaging with co-workers and leadership.  Companies spend millions in marketing and branding in an effort to highlight diversity and culture in the workplace.  But at the end of the day, if an employee does not feel directly impacted by those efforts, it is all a waste.

“If I feel valued and apart of the larger picture, then I will not only give 110%, I will tweet about it and tell all my friends how awesome of a place this is to work!”

Create Mentoring Opportunities

As a mentee myself, I have had the opportunity to champion stretch assignments and take on responsibilities that have stripped me from my comfort zone and into unfamiliar territory.  By stepping out, and taking those chances, I was able to discover my own worth and take my career to the next level.

The delicate balance of mentoring someone is not creating them in your own image, but giving them the opportunity to create themselves.” Steven Spielberg

CHALLENGE US!

We want to be challenged. We thrive when we are challenged.  Millenials are confident, individualistic, and love feeling accomplished.  Sometimes we come off as arrogant and self-entitled (2 words that are tied to Millenials quite often) and this may make you feel “uncomfortable” around us.  That’s okay.  All we ask is for you to embrace those feelings and connect with us.  Step out of your comfort zone and find out the REAL story behind who we are.  Building a strong relationship with us, and making the effort to mentor, develop and teach is what it’s all about.

“We are your successors and even if it’s a blow to our egos to admit it, we DO NOT want to let you down!”

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