Words by Icy Ling
If you Google search ‘Managing Millennials’, there are 15,800,000 results. Obviously ‘somebody’ needed the answers. According to joboutlook.gov.au (May 2019), the average age of Chief Executives and Managing Directors in Australia is 50.5 years old. I also randomly checked the average age for Advertising, Public Relations and Sales Managers in Australia – 41 years old.
So where do Millennials fit? Doing ‘nothing’ but playing with their phones at this moment … Or working and dealing with one of the most important stakeholders of your company – your clients and customers.
How are you finding working with Millennials in your team?
I have been an editor of Australia-based Chinese magazine ‘Indulgence’ for five years. Now leading a team of writers. There are three generations in our office, and the majority of people are Millennials. Luckily I received some study on managing Millennials in a Masters Degree. Otherwise, these girls might have successfully driven me to become an alcoholic by now.
One editor once asked me on her first day: ‘Our office is too far from where I live. Can I work from home?’ It also happened one lunchtime, after disappearing for more than two hours. I got a text from an editor ‘… this cafe is so cosy, I will stay here and work this afternoon’. She even invited me to join her, sounding like my BFF.
I have tons of stories like these. These editors are extremely talented writers. A lot of times when I revise their articles, I get a big smile on my face. They are highly motivated by working with interesting people, and they love learning. They want to be involved in decision making. But let’s face it; they are Millennials. They are not afraid of change. If they don’t see any opportunities for growth, or if they struggle to maintain a good relationship with their boss, they will start looking for another job.
To that new girl who complained about travelling too far to work, I Google Mapped her the best route. When I realised there is a bit of a walk from the station to the office, I calculated the calories she could burn each day from that much walking, blinked and said ‘there you go, my top secret for staying slim’. Of course, I visited that ‘cosy’ cafe near our office with the other girl. And that summer, I brought flowers to the office and spent extra time in the morning to decorate each editor’s desk, fill drawers with chocolate and chips. Trust me, it didn’t take much time, but I really enjoyed doing that. Seeing their impression when arriving at the office, I felt super satisfied.
In this job, I work with a lot of freelancers and casual staff. One problem I’ve got is that some of them are less considerate than the permanent staff. You can clearly feel that they are ‘just doing their job’. With these talents, you do need to take more time finding what motivates them, identify their personal goals, and find a link to the company goal. Most importantly, she needs to know that not only your company needs her, but that this is also a great position that will benefit her. They will also appreciate this type of conversation.
I was born in the mid-80s. Referred to as a Senior Millennial (Senior Millennials are born between 1981 and 1990; Junior Millennials were born between 1991 and 2000). When I was a kid, if our TV or fridge broke down, my parents would patiently get them repaired. Nowadays, most Millennials (including Senior Millennials) will not hesitate to replace the broken items. Or they will threaten you if you don’t refund them or exchange to a new one and will post on social media to share their ‘bad experience’ with everyone. Fixing a broken TV or refrigerator to Millennials might be a waste of time, money and energy that they would spend elsewhere. (Edit a post on social media, too easy).
I am sure you would agree: Millennials love being more creative, they absorb information faster but they crave recognition. They don’t mind working hard if they see themselves able to be developed, as well as getting a happy work/life balance. You just have to tweak your way of management a bit in front of them. Don’t criticise them spending too much time on social media. Login to the app, follow them and view what they have posted. Some of them have very impressive content that may surprise you! Remember, you can always connect with them through social media. You can find what interests them, what comforts them, and what happens in their life after work. All of these efforts will assist you in managing them better.
The best manager should always be happy to see his or her team member growing, right? Hey, don’t forget, when they grow, you do too!
Feature image courtesy of iStock