I am not a millennial but I know they matter to my organization’s success. Leaders must set the course for the future and engagement with millennials (those born between 1980 and 2000) will help you better understand the future.
Can you name the millennials that are most influencial on your team? Can you name the millennials you are learning from? Who in this generation are you spending time with both for their leadership development and for your own? Your organization’s future depends on your engagement with this generation.
Here are a few key facts about millennials:
- “Millennials are continuous learners, team players, collaborators, diverse, optimistic, achievement-oriented, socially conscious and highly educated.” (source)
- “Millennials represent the largest generation in the US, comprising roughly one-third of the total population in 2013” (source)
- 75% of the workforce by 2025 will be millennials (source)
- “63% of millennials want their employer to contribute to social or ethical causes they felt were important” (source)
- “64% of millennials would rather make $40,000/year at a job they love than $100,000/year at a job they think is boring.” (source)
You’re building an organization that will outlive you, and you will hand your baton over to this generation of leaders that you are developing now. Understanding them, including them, and learning from them will be essential for your own leadership.
5 Tips to Lead Millennials:
- Cast a vision for their work.
The millennial generation “cares about authenticity and institutional values because they are counting on working within organizations to drive change.” Lead us well by casting a vision for the positive change that your organization is making and ensuring that we have an active, on-the-frontlines role in that change. We care about work that matters and we want to be a part of positive change, both within our organizations and around the world.
- Provide work/life balance.
More than any other generation, millennials put a high emphasis on time freedom and being able to work hard while they are at work, and then play hard when not at work. Despite what others think about us, most of us really are hard workers and want to do an excellent job at whatever the task is.
- Encourage their positive, “can do” attitude.
We millennials were raised to think we can take on the world, and while some older generations resent that attitude, most of us really do want to genuinely contribute to positive change. Not only is our ‘can do’ attitude a positive for your organization, but we also work in teams and collaborate well. Want a project to have good forward momentum? Make sure a millennial is on the team and their knack for collaboration will serve your department well.
- Encourage their natural use of technology.
We are the first generation to grow up with the Internet and online social network sites grew up with us, so we are often referred to as ‘digital natives.’ Use this to your advantage as a leader yourself and for the good of your organization. My freshman year of college was 2004 and I signed up for Facebook as soon as our campus had it sometime that first year it originated. That means I have almost 10 years of Marketing/Communications education and experience, which makes me a valuable asset to integrating new technologies with proven marketing experience.
- Listen and learn from them.
Millennials want to be a part of the conversation. Don’t just talk to us but talk with us. Engagement with us and providing feedback is critically important. Listen, ask questions, and include us in strategy and planning, and executing results. We want to be a part of the team and we want to continually improve in our work.
These are just a few tips to help you lead the millennials in your organization well, since we are the generation that will shape our workforce landscape for decades to come. But let this millennial warn you that no two millennials are the same. Even if we all did get a blue ribbon after the swim meet, we like to think that we are far more unique than every one else! 😉
As important as the differences between generations may be, it is best to use your knowledge of those differences only as a template. When dealing with individuals, forget for the moment about generations, and concentrate instead on individuals.” T. Scott Gross on Forbes
- The Millennials: Connecting to America’s Largest Generation, by Dr. Thom Rainer and Jess Rainer, 2011.
- Millennials Snapshot by Thom Rainer
- Brack, Jessica. “Maximizing Millennials in the Workplace,” 2012.
- “15 Economic Facts About Millennials,” The Council of Economic Advisors, Executive Office of the President of the United States. October 2014.
- Hershatter, Andrea and Epstein, Molly. “Millennials and the World of Work: An Organization and Management Perspective.” Journal of Business and Psychology, June 2010.
- 11 Facts About the Millennial Generation, The Brookings Institute.
Kristen Steele McCall is Selma Wilson’s Social Media Strategist, co-host of Selma on Leadership, a Spunky Southerner and a native Nashvillian, a wife and mama to a toddler and one on the way, a blogging and social media coach, author, photographer, hugger, Jesus lover, confessed messy and shoe lover! You can connect with Kristen on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.