Millennials get a bad rap. I’m really tired of hearing they are lazy, opinionated and entitled. I have worked with hundreds, if not thousands, of young people typically between the ages of 18 and 35. I have to say that these stereotypical negative statements are not only untrue, but if this generation starts buying into what the “grown-ups” are saying it could be the demise of the biggest generation yet.
The real challenge with each generation is understanding how they think, feel and act.
The real challenge with each generation is understanding how they think, feel and act. Let’s deconstruct that: Millennials are digital natives meaning they grew up in an age of massive information at their fingertips. In fact, they are disrupted by so much information it becomes hard for some of them to focus. Snapchat, Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram and Twitter comprise their pop culture and where most of them get their news. And good luck trying to figure out which channels appeal to which age group and gender. To add to this list of differences from boomers and traditionalists, millennials have grown up in an arena of participation versus competition.
The bottom line is that the way they think, act, and feel is much different from other generations and there are things you need to know in order to hire, manage and lead them.
It’s pretty simple … CARE. These are the most important questions you’ll need to ask yourself and your leadership team if you’re going to lead and inspire millennials.
Leadership Mastery Insights:
Let’s use CARE as an acronym:
C – Community, Connectedness and Communication
Think about: How does your company benefit the internal and external community?
Show them you have a strong mission and purpose that benefits them, their coworkers and the local community.
Will you connect with me and show genuine interest in me?
How your leaders and company connects with them on a personal and career level will drive loyalty and performance.
Can I count on you to communicate with me on a consistent basis?
Managers that consistently communicate to their employees develop a sense of approachability and transparency.
A – Advancement
They want to know: What’s in it if for me? How will you help me learn and grow even if this is a stepping – stone for me?
This is a critical conversation to start in the hiring process and needs to continue through the onboarding as well.
R – Respect
They wonder: Will you value my opinions and work? Will you genuinely value me as a person and a team member?
Too many times managers and leaders are fooled by their own opinions that respect is earned instead of given. When you hire and welcome a team member it is your responsibility to respect them.
E – Expectations and Empathy
Millennials will ask: Will you tell me what’s expected of me and what I can expect of your organization and my team?
Clear expectations build a foundation of common purpose.
Will you understand and validate my feelings?
Don’t roll your eyes about this one. If you’re able to tap into empathy, it can become a strong bond.
One place that uses this principle is the Appalachian Brewing Company headquartered in Mechanicsburg, PA. Founder Artie Tafoya started in the restaurant business as a dishwasher. He now owns eight brewpubs and continues to grow their brand.
“I don’t know if kids now are any worse than 10 or 20 years ago. I think they are different, but I don’t always know that there are great parents behind great kids. I usually don’t find one without the other.”
Tafoya said one great case study for the brand is a location in Lititz, PA, built four years ago in the middle of farm country.
“We hired 40 people and we still have about 32 of them,” he said. “Everybody there has a great attitude and great work ethic. I think they work hard because they come from farms or they worked on farms or their dads or grandfathers were farmers. It was the easiest hire ever. We hired people and they came in and did their job and I still have a ton of them. And the ones that have left are still good friends, good customers, and still good representatives of our company.”
One of the reasons Tafoya believes ABC has such a good retention rate is that his goal is to tell everyone 99 percent of everything they need to know to work there during the training process.
“We have a very detailed training program that we developed when we had our franchising exercise and now we are putting it online as well. That will help the millennials train the way they want to be trained. Train them well, treat them with respect and dignity, and allow them to make money.
Tafoya also encourages staff to seek out opportunities that come their way.
“I always tell people don’t make this your final stop unless you really love it. This can get old so I tell them to go do something and go make a difference, and if you ever want to come back you can come back. I don’t want to hold anyone back. I’m just really honest with them.”
This is a revised excerpt from Smith’s upcoming book, “Lead Like This Today.”