Millennials, according to the National Center for Health Sciences, will exceed the 100 million mark due to the highest birth rate since the Boomer generation. This means that the millennial population will become a force to reckon with in the work place.
More than any other demographic, millennials came from two-income households and parents who paid close attention to their health, education and development. In addition, societal shifts coupled with technological advances made security paramount for parents of millennials. One in four millennials has at least one parent with a 4-year college degree and they are born into smaller families which, means more parenting time. Affluent grandparents also contributed to the caregiving process, resulting in a highly interactive relationship between millennials and their family.
From Home Life to Work Life.
There are positive millennial stereotypes that will effect every manager of this generation.
Millennials in the Workplace:
- Work well in teams.
- Want to make a difference in the organization.
- Want open and frequent communication with their supervisor.
- Handle communication technology with ease.
- More comfortable with diversity.
The millennial population is accustomed to working in groups and with constant feedback perhaps from a very caring and participative parental experience. As a result, millennials expect to interact with and receive feedback from their managers. They also expect to openly participate in idea generation and problem solving. This is not the “Order Taker” generation.
What Every Manager Must Do
Successfully managing millennials means that every manager must be capable of interacting with and providing feedback to their employees. One-on-one meetings should be a regular practice, separate from the typical status update. Millennials want to have a voice at work and they want to know that their voice has merit. That means managers must be authentically engaged in dialogue and encouraging voice. Leaders must avoid any practice that discounts ideas and elicits silence. This may sound easy but today’s managers have their work cut out for them in order to satisfy the millennials’ expectations. Recent research showed that among 4000 employees surveyed:
- 93% say that their immediate boss influences their behavior.
- 23% say they feel comfortable raising important issues with their manager.
What Managers Can Do Now
Managers can shape a Culture of Voice by encouraging voice and interaction. Here are a few practices that will most likely encourage voice:
- Build up ideas and never tear them down, even if they seem half-baked.
- Strengthen your tolerance for divergent thinking. Look for and encourage different viewpoints at every opportunity.
Minimize the silence phenomenon, by doing the following:
- Never put down ideas or suggestions in public.
- Never ignore an employee’s ideas or recommendations. They may not seem significant to you but they are most likely important to the employee.
- Pay close attention to even the slightest non-verbal language that sends the message, “That is ridiculous”.
Shaping Cultures of Voice is every manager’s daily work. It is very easy to create a Culture of Silence and quite difficult to unwind it. Be hyper-aware that your every action and inaction has consequences not only to the millennial population but to every employee.
For more information on shaping Cultures of Voice, visit www.RVBassociates.com
 Howe & Strauss, Millennials Rising.
Howe, N. & Strauss, W. (2000) Millennials Rising. Random House: Toronto, Canada
Myers, K. K. & Sadaghiani, K. (2010) Millennials in the Workplace: A communication perspective on
Millennials’ organizational relationships and performance. Journal of Business Psychology,
Deal, J.J. Altman, D. J. & Rogelberg, S. G. (2010) Millennials at Work. Journal of Business Psychology.