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LOL, FCOL, TTYL*: Managing Millennials

The older I get, the more difficult it is to fill out new hire paperwork. Of course, we ask for their birthday and more often we hire people who were born after I graduated from high school. Oh, yes! That makes me feel old. Tapping into the potential they can bring to your business is invaluable, however, and we must get used to it.

Millenials (born after 1982) will be the largest living generation (76,000,000 strong) and twice the size of Generation X. Some will say that they are spoiled, self-absorbed, and the most impatient generation yet. However, in the workplace they can be the very talent pool you need to take you into the next generation. Understanding a millennial's needs and wants will make the transition easier for everyone.

As employees, millenials want to learn from you and your business. They want opportunities for career progress, personal development and training. They value work that is important and meaningful over higher-paid salaries. They like to work in teams and with people they like. Flexibility and social media access at work are important. And 60 percent of them have a desire to own their own business at some point.

So, how does this translate into your management style? Be their coach, by telling millennials regularly what they are doing well and how to further their position with your company. Consider allowing time for them to volunteer during work hours or put them on volunteer projects for your company. Allow time each week to dedicated brainstorming. And when they have a great idea, support them by asking to see a business plan to support their ideas. Be flexible; their communities aren't defined in specific space or within specific hours. And finally, let them work with their friends or in teams with co-workers they like. The results will be worth it.

As an employer, some or all of these suggestions may make you cringe. Yet if you plan to grow your business, it will become critical to find ways to welcome millenials into your workforce. Good luck!

* In case you were wondering about those abbreviations up top: Laugh Out Loud, For Crying Out Loud, Talk to You Later

Written by Kasie Smith, publisher of Groups Today magazine.


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