June 20, 2011

How to Motivate Millennials

In my previous post, I wrote about the great potential of Millennials. How do we help them reach this potential and motivate them to perform at their best? I think it starts with respect. They have lots of ideas that they will want to share. They are not afraid to go to the CEO during their first week of work and to make suggestions. This happened to me recently, and the suggestions were good. Listen to them. Hear them out. You may need to advise them on the “how” and “when,” but do not dismiss them. Keep them engaged.

Another thing to keep in mind is that Millennials are not patient. They want a lot of responsibility fast, so give it to them. They will surprise you with what they can do. Empower them or risk losing them to another employer or losing their full commitment and energy. Approaches like Ken Blanchard’s Situational Leadership® II and Situational Self Leadership are structured ways that can help both managers and their Millennial team members. Managers can learn how best to lead and develop their people according to their needs. And Millennial team members can learn to develop effective self-leadership and self-reliance.

Here are a few tips for mentoring and coaching your Millennial team members:

  • Have an open door policy: Make them feel comfortable. They expect it, and it will strengthen the relationship.
  • Practice empathic listening: At times, they may be emotional and anxious when they push themselves so hard. Be there just to listen, and let them express how they feel.
  • Use a participative approach: They do not like to be told what to do. Millennials want to discuss things and participate in the decision-making process.
  • Create a personal development plan: Collaborate with them on a yearly plan that identifies development areas, goals, and the resources and actions needed to achieve them.
  • Have regular one-on-one meetings: Meet regularly with them to answer their questions, give feedback and discuss the personal development plan. They expect and like the focused attention, and a calm setting is conducive to coaching and constructive conversations.
  • Invest in training: Train them so that their skills catch up to their desire for more responsibility. The investment should pay off in the form of greater productivity and results.
  • Avoid comparisons: Avoid saying things like “when I was your age, I walked to school both ways uphill in the snow.” Such comparisons are not helpful or constructive.
  • Build confidence: Believe in them, make sure they feel supported, nurture their talents and give them opportunities to use them. If you do, their confidence will grow, and they will soar.