Motivating the Gen Y/Millennial Worker

I’ve heard enough stereotypes and complaints about dealing with the younger worker that I could write a book. Maybe a shift in perspective will change your reactive ways to proactive methods. Try these 3 simple steps the next time you are engaged with a worker under the age of 30.

1) Understand: Don’t assume the younger worker knows what you expect of them. They have a different work ethic, goals and communication style. Read into the stereotypes and try to see the world from their perspective. If you put yourself in their shoes, I’m sure things will improve dramatically.

2) Relate: After you have learned what makes a “Millennial” tick, try communicating on topics they actually care about. You’d be surprised how much progress is made relationally when you have reached some common ground. Just like a salesperson tries to speak to a client’s “agenda”, approach the younger worker the same way. Who knows, you might even gain some trust and respect!

3) Motivate: Since the beginning of time, regardless of age, humans have always been more motivated to make an effort towards the things that they want. It’s not as easy as dangling more money in front of them (although it wouldn’t hurt), but be creative based on what you’ve learned from your prior conversations. One example is to play into their desire for “work/life balance.” Simply put, work is a means to support their personal endeavors. Knowing this, reward superior performance with some time off. To a Millennial, this means time off to spend on their hobbies (and a “cool” boss).

Let’s not approach the younger worker with fear or apprehension. Understand who you are working with and change the ways you do things. You may think these suggestions are quite “soft” which is correct, but they are also effective. We all want increased productivity, but the “means” to achieve that have changed with the generations. Stop caring so much about the “how” and be concerned about the ‘bottom line.’ Like it or not, in 5 – 10 years the younger workers will be our managers. The reality is: we need them, more than they need us!

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