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You Just Hired Your First Millennials: Here’s How to Manage Them

It’s easy to dismiss the hype around millennials. Baby boomers look upon this young, bright-eyed cohort like it’s from another planet — when it’s really comprised, for the most part, of boomers’ kids.

“No one likes being shown up by a younger person, particularly when that person works for you,” says international executive, intergenerational management expert, and boomer Scott Vollero. “But it’s important to remember that millennials and boomers share many common experiences. We’re not talking about two isolated cultures that just met for the first time.”

That said, there’s plenty that millennials and boomers don’t agree on. More importantly, the two generations do have distinct MOs. They talk, think, and work differently than prior generations. For boomer and Gen X executives, it’s critical to understand how to leverage those differences — or risk losing out on top talent in an increasingly competitive labor market.

So, let’s face facts: you’re going to hire millennials soon. You probably have already. You need to manage them effectively. Here’s what to keep in mind.

Millennials Want Purpose

Most millennials have probably never heard of The Purpose-Driven Life, and many probably wouldn’t agree with its teachings. But, whether they know it or not, millennials do seek purpose. If you make one concession to your burgeoning millennial workforce, it should involve revamping your corporate brand and mission around a clear-cut set of values couched in an expansive, positive vision — a higher purpose, if you will.

Micro-Management Is Still Out, But So Is the Blank Check

No one likes to be micro-managed, even fresh-faced millennials who may or may not still be living in their parents’ basements. But millennials tend to be more tolerant of bosses who unapologetically and regularly give marching orders and feedback. They don’t so much want to be told what to do as how they’re doing (and what they can do to improve). In other words, you might have to turn your annual performance review into a monthly or weekly affair.

Perks, Not Dollars

According to Huffington Post contributor Stefanie O’Connell, millennials expect to be compensated fairly for their work. But they also expect a host of softer perks and lifestyle amenities that more traditional employers aren’t used to providing: work-from-home flexibility, in-office “hangout” areas, generous family leave policies, and the like. Employers that provide such perks are more likely to attract and retain millennials — who are, after all, the future of every business — than employers that stubbornly refuse to give into the culture shift.

Which Way to the Top?

Millennials are fickle. They’re not fond of organizations that lack sufficient opportunities for advancement. If your company isn’t growing, watch out — your millennial employees aren’t likely to stick around to find out what happens next.

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

It’s no surprise that a values-driven cohort prefers honest leaders who lead by example and don’t jump at the first opportunity to excuse their failings. In millennials’ eyes, the rules apply to everyone, even those at the very top. The moment you get complacent and start cutting corners is the moment you lose your millennial employees’ trust.

How do you manage millennials at your company?

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