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The millennial generation – Headache or opportunity

Federico Re explores why Millennial employees need to be handled with care, and why they can be asset to your organisation.

The Millennial generation are a group of people born between 1980 and the year 2000. There is no doubt that this new generation think and behave very differently to previous generations, especially compared to the Gen-Xers and the Baby Boomers.

In the current-day workforce, this difference is certainly noticed and can often present a real challenge or headache for the management team. However, their modern-day views and entrepreneurial mindset can also present an opportunity for a business owner or leader.

The Millennials have developed work habits and a belief system based on their doting parents; the availability and accessibility of social media and new technologies like smart phones, computers, multimedia, etc; social media/ networking opportunities throughout the world; access to further education, specialist training, and knowledge sharing; and plenty of examples of young people achieving stardom on TV or Youtube.

I’ve spent much time working with this ‘internet’ generation over the past few years, only to be amazed and intrigued about their philosophy to work and life, and how they go about doing their job on a day-to-day to achieve the results they desire. It is my view that this generation of workers are more challenging to manage, as their expectations for acknowledgement, reward, fulfilment, and success in their careers is generally much higher than older generations.

The Millennials no longer want to wait for a pay rise or a promotion, or wait 10 years or more to climb the corporate ladder. They want these opportunities now. Simply put, ‘It’s all about ME.

On the flip of the coin, Millennials can also be a real asset for an organisation as they frequently possess the entrepreneurial mindset or spirit. These young intrapreneurs possess unique characteristics due to their awareness and extensive knowledge base from the internet world. They can be innovative, passionate, creative, and often challenge the status quo. The have a desire and a thirst for change; they like to implement new ideas; and they seek instant reward.

So the question is – ‘Do Millennials, who lack real hands-on experience, present a headache or an opportunity for the leadership team?’ My view is that this all depends on the type of candidate as well as the management style, and culture of the organisation.

Attitude & mindset

We cannot excuse Millennials with a lazy, bored, or complacent attitude. We also cannot accept someone who simply expects all the opportunities to land on their lap without any hard work or commitment; or even someone who demands all the attention to be focused on them. Instead, businesses need employees with entrepreneurial characteristics who drive growth and want to contribute something positive towards the organisation.

The right candidate is the go-getter; a young and passionate individual who sees the opportunities and is able to successfully contribute their thoughts to the management team in a professional, coherent, and enthusiastic manner. Patience, loyalty, commitment, respect, and hard work are fundamental character traits needed to make this relationship work. My simple philosophy is that a rewarding career, entrepreneurial success, or business mastery does not come overnight.

Management style

Millennials most commonly need the mentoring and guidance from older and more experienced people. They require constant feedback and reassurance that they are doing the right job, and their effort and creative talent is being recognised by the management team. They want to see the whole picture, and know exactly where their career is heading.

Leaders need to adapt the right management style to accommodate this need, by firstly providing structure to the employee’s role, as well as a forum or meeting place where Millennials can openly express their views on a regular basis, without having to wait for their ‘annual performance review’ for their voice to be heard. When a Millennial achieves a positive result or accomplishes a specific company goal, their effort needs to be publicly recognised and even rewarded with a token of appreciation.

The Millennial is a team player. They enjoy working with other like-minded individuals, and thrive when their innovative ideas are shared amongst other people or throughout the organisation. The leadership team need to facilitate this process and play an instrumental role is capturing these ideas, and ensure they can be materialised or commercialised into something positive within the company.

Entrepreneurial culture

We are living in an era where the entrepreneurial spirit of the youth is getting widely noticed and embraced by the broader community. This phenomenon is partly due to the Millennial generation playing a pivotal role in the transformation of the new-age workplace environment, and creation of new opportunities within the marketplace.

We already know that international companies like Google, Facebook, Apple, Virgin, all thrive because of their intrapreneurial / Millennial workforce. Smaller Australian companies like Summly4Cabling, anditgenius Australia have also achieved phenomenal financial success and praise within the Australian marketplace, despite all their company founders being younger than 30.

There is no doubt that companies that hire and leverage on Millennial intrapreneurs are more likely to grow and prosper in the future. By adopting the right entrepreneurial culture across the organisation, the Millennial will thrive and generate positive results.

The perfect mix

Up to this point, we have focused our attention on just the Millennial generation, paying little regard to the pros and cons of hiring or managing other generations like Gen Y, Gen X, or the Baby Boomers. The truth is that no generation is perfect, nor is there a ‘perfect’ age group or person to suit a specific type of business.

Regardless of the person’s age, the secret to successful employee management lies in the ability to balance the staff mix with a combination of all generations, sexes, cultures, experiences, backgrounds, and mindsets across the workforce. In other words, a young and enthusiastic, inexperienced, male worker, born in Australia, can be as valuable to an organisation as a senior, mature, female employee with over 30 years of experience originating from China. The choice is yours.

This article has been exclusively written by Federico Re for ‘Business First Magazine’ – September, 2014 Edition.

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