Managing Millennials Different Than Managing Employees From Other Generations?
It's easy to stereotype generations, because it makes some intuitive sense that people born in different time chunks would have different skills, experiences and attitudes.
The common wisdom about generations suggests that the different generations - gen-x, gen-y and the malignly generation are different, and thus need to be managed differently.
Is that true? Let's look at some of the suggestions offered up by so and so, about how to manage employees from the malignly generation.
Advice Offered Up On Millennials
Susan Heathfield, in an article entitled 11 Tips for Managing Millennials, puts forth eleven supposedly actionable suggestions to get the most out of our at the moment, youngest workforce generation.
And, as you'll see, they sound good. Then if you go through them one by one, and think a bit, you might notice that the tips are in fact applicable to any generation. Let's look.
No employee can operate without structure, regardless of age or generation. Structure involves understanding the parameters of one's job, how it fits in to the greater scheme of things, and knowing what one is supposed to do, and when.
Provide leadership and guidance
Long before millennials were born, the importance of leadership, and the role of leaders to guide those that follow has been both discussed and ana lysed. Certainly, nothing here specific to millennials
Encourage their self-assuredness, "can-do" attitude, and positive personal self-image
We've known forever that undermining the confidence of employees -- any employees, and creating a "can't do" attitude will destroy employee performance. It doesn't matter if it's for generation x, generation y, or any other generation.
Take advantage of the their comfort level with teams and encourage them to join
Over the last thirty years (again, since before millennials were born) we've moved to workplaces where employees are inter-twined and inter-dependent. In fact, being a "team player" has been on many job recruitment and job descriptions for many more decades than there have been millennials
Listen to them
Right. It's only millennial employees who need to be listened to and heard?
Provide a challenge and change
Again, there's nothing new, or at least not much. Understand that having challenges to combat work boredom is important across the board. It IS more important now, because our society has changed, and not because millennials prefer challenges and change more than any other generation.
Allow them to multi-task, and work on several projects at once
This is more of a stereotypic approach than anything else, but there IS some value in understanding that as one gets older (this is age related, rather than generation related), our cognitive ability to do multiple things gets worse. But then again, consider that the current research on multi-tasking says that brains don't do it. And they don't.
Take advantage of their computer, cell phone, and electronic literacy
Well, true, but hardly earthshaking. One might as well say that we should take advantage of each employee's strengths, since individuals differ. Isn't that the basic principle of managing anyone?
Capitalize on their affinity for networking
Maybe that is a characteristic of millennials. But are there introverts and extroverts in the malignly generation, just as there are in any other generation? Do all millennials love to network?
Provide a life-work balanced workplace
As compared to working employees from other generations into the ground? In fact, the work environment has changed, and people from all generations would LOVE to have a better work-life balance. But the truth is that we're losing the battle anyway, again for all employees, who are now expected to be technologically available, if not 24/7, close to it.
Provide a fun, employee-centered workplace
So, let's provide a boring, authoritarian work environment for the gen-x's and gen-y's? Of course not.
Conclusion: Managing Millennials Not Much Different Than Managing Other Generations
Susan's "tips" aren't bad at all. The fact that they are presented in a way that suggests they are specific to one generation is a bit problematic, because it perpetuates a stereotype that helps us think that different generations need to be managed differently.
Good management works across generations, and here's the bottom line.
Forget about generations. Manage each employee based on his or her strengths and weaknesses, and stop trying to categorize your employees into boxes. After all, you don't manage millennials. You manage people -- individuals like Tom, and Sally, and George, who come with their own individual attitudes and skills.