The Top 5 Strategies to Engage Your Team of Millennials

//The Top 5 Strategies to Engage Your Team of Millennials

The Top 5 Strategies to Engage Your Team of Millennials

Team based work environments. Millennials thrive in a much more team based environment where there’s less of a rank structure or hierarchy. We were raised in a society that taught us that no matter where you came from, who you are, or what you look like we’re all equal. In a workplace environment where there’s a very rigid hierarchy and definitive line between boss and employee, there isn’t a lot of room for camaraderie to build between management and the workforce. This camaraderie gives each member of your team a significant feeling of purpose. Even your more “shy” team members will begin to come out of their shells if they feel like they are starting to build a connection with their co-workers.

Use technology if possible. Let me start by saying I understand not all jobs are based in an office, so this may not apply to all. However, if the workplace is in an office environment where team members and leaders do a substantial amount of work via computers then a good online feedback system is a great way to communicate with Millennials. I am not just talking about emails… As important as we all know emails are, there are multiple workplace communication systems that are tailored to almost look like a social media platform but are used for leaders to communicate with the rest of the team for brainstorming, problem solving, or feedback on previously accomplished goals. These types of systems are much more appealing to the younger generation and will ultimately produce a lot more feedback and communication with some of your younger team members. Here are a few: bcommunities.com, proofhub.com, hall.com, oogwave.com, and hyperoffice.com, just to name a few.

Be a LEADER not just a BOSS! One of the biggest complaints from employers about Millennials is that we can never accept negative feedback. That’s not true. I believe the underlying problem is communication style differences between the generations. Millennials excel when there’s a level of rapport with their leadership. In turn, it makes feedback (aka constructive criticism) a whole lot more constructive when we have a leader who has taken the time to build a relationship with us before negatively commenting on our work. Millennials would rather be told that their work performance is poor from someone they know, and respect, than from someone who just barks orders at them every day. Or, who only talks to them when something gets screwed up…

An “Open-Door” Policy. While I was serving in the US Army, this was a policy that worked really well. Regardless of what your rank was, you had the right to speak directly to any member of your chain of command—about any issue.  I leveraged the Open-Door Policy multiple times to shed light on some issues at work, which I knew the “higher ups” up the chain of command may not have been aware of, but I knew were critical to our mission. In my experience, sometimes mid-level leaders are not very good at “communicating up” and “managing up” the chain of command.  They are either too timid to push important issues upward or because they don’t like a subordinate’s idea, they will just simply halt the communication at their level and not cascade anything upward.   So, an Open-door policy allowing Millennials to step outside the hierarchical chain of command can actually be a really good thing.  Now, keep in mind, sometimes this can be fraught with some political landmines… Sometimes the mid-level leaders don’t like a subordinate “jumping rank” and going around them. However, if handled properly, this can facilitate a pretty good culture of open communication.  Remember, Millennials like to see action and results, albeit much more quickly than other generations, because we’re a generation used to taking short-cuts in order to be more efficient.   So, mid-level leaders, particularly in hierarchical organizational structures, may be actually be an impediment to innovation and employee engagement.

Be available—even when off the clock.  Being a leader means you have to provide the tools and resources for your team. And, to make sure they have what they need, a leader needs to be available for communications. I’m not suggesting you need to go “hang out” with your team members for Happy Hour every Friday night… Actually, that’s a strategy that could easily land you into some hot water, as mixing too much business with personal relationships, especially with booze involved…well, you get my meaning here. An enjoyable evening out with the entire team, to celebrate some successes is great. Hanging out with a select few, drinking beers, will create morale issues and perceptions of favoritism. So, careful with that…

What I am saying about being available, is that your people—especially younger Millennials—need to know that you have their back. And, quite frankly, that you’re accessible. A big problem Millennials have with their bosses today is simply lack of availability to answer questions and provide support. As a leader, if you’ve delegated to them projects to work on and task assignments, then you need ensure you aren’t so hands off that you set your people adrift. They need to know that if they get stuck, need help solving a problem, or in general just need to talk something through with you—that you are available to them, even after hours. Just saying, “feel free to contact me if any of you need anything” can go a very long way.  Even if no one ever needs to call you, it shows you care for your team as people and not just workers. Most of your team members are willing to go the extra mile for you–if they feel like you’re willing to go the extra mile for them.

Until next time…

Taylor Ivey, Chief Millennial Consultant
Results Performance Consulting, Inc.

By |2017-06-16T16:38:26+00:00June 16th, 2017|Blog|Comments Off on The Top 5 Strategies to Engage Your Team of Millennials

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