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LOL, TTYL, TTFN: Managing Millennials

The older I get, the more difficult it is to fill out new hire paperwork. Of course, we ask for the new hire's birthdate. And more and more often, we hire people who were born after I graduated from high school. Yes. That makes me feel old.

Tapping into the potential millennials could bring to your business is invaluable, however—and we must get used to it. Millennials (born after 1982) will be the largest living generation (76,000 strong), twice the size of Generation X. Some say millennials are spoiled and self-absorbed; the most impatient generation yet. In the workplace, though, they could be the very talent pool to take you into the next generation. Understanding your millennial employees' needs and wants will make the transition easier for everyone.

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

How do millennials translate into your management style? Be their coach: Tell them regularly what they're 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 company volunteer projects. Allow time each week to dedicated brainstorming. When they have a great idea, support them by asking to see a business plan that supports their ideas. Be flexible: Millennials' communities aren't defined in specific space, or within specific hours. 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. But if you plan to grow your business, finding ways to welcome millennials into your workforce will become critical. Good luck!

Written by Kasie Smith, publisher of Groups Today magazine
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