There are a lot of stereotypes associated with the Millennial generation. They are said to be confident, assertive, team-oriented, tolerant, and multi-tasking. These are just a few of the adjectives I picked out from the article on them in Wikipedia.
There is no shortage of articles on the web that tell how to communicate with and manage Millennials. By now, we all know we are supposed to provide them with flexible work environments, that we need to show them clear career paths, encourage their tendency to work in teams, help them find purpose in their work, and learn to value their authenticity. But there are over 80 million of them now, and an increasing proportion of them are joining senior management. It may now be less important to manage them than to help them manage others. If you’re a Millennial assuming a management position, here are five communication tips.
- Get face-to-face. Your generation has never lived in a world without texting. Most of you have been doing it all your lives and would be lost without it. But on the richness scale, even with emoticons, texting is down there with Morse code, and email is not a whole lot better. You need to know that every time you communicate by text or email, especially with a subordinate, you lose an opportunity to learn more about and influence the other person. Increase your proportion of face-to-face communication, even if it’s above your comfort level.
- Prepare to communicate. Don’t try to hold a meeting or a conversation without an agenda, even if it’s unwritten. Gather your thoughts and know what you want to accomplish before launching into a discussion. Preparation will help you come across as poised and self-possessed, which will give people more confidence in your management.
- Be attentive. Your generation may be famous for its multitasking abilities, but communication often requires your full and focused attention. Learn the skills of active listening and apply them in conversation. You will find that they not only help you gather more substance from a conversation, but they raise others’ receptivity to what you are saying and what you want from them. Don’t check your phone during a conversation unless you have first told the other person you’re waiting for an important message — maybe not even then.
- Be respectful of autonomy. Your generation is said to value authenticity and to be comfortable blending work and home life. Don’t assume that everybody has a 24/7 commitment to the job, even if you do. Don’t call or text your subordinates after work hours if you can avoid it. There are many people in the workplace, particularly older people, who are trying to balance work and life rather than blend them.
- Be respectful of feelings. Your generation is said to appreciate irony and even goofiness. Just remember that some of your subordinates may be from older generations and may therefore be irony-impaired. Nothing hinders communication quite like misunderstood humor. Often, it even leads to hurt feelings. Save irony and goofiness for your personal life.
If you’re a Millennial manager, what have you learned about managing people from your own and other generations? Share with us in the comments.