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Are You Keeping Your Millennials Connected?

If you have just begun to embrace how to manage Millennials, just wait. The next generation, Generation Z, is on deck.

Being a manager isn’t easy.  You don’t need us to tell you that.

In addition to managing different personalities, now each employee comes with the unique characteristics of their own generation- and if you have just begun to embrace how to manage Millennials, just wait. The next generation, Generation Z, is on deck.

Managing a multi-general workforce isn’t as daunting as it seems, but it does take patience and a specific approach to each individual member of your team. Mike Andersen is a Human Resource Specialist/Recruiter with Xceleration and believes learning how to manage the individual is more important than painting each generation with a broad brush.

“Each employee has different things that will make them comfortable,” Andersen says. “A younger employee may just want to know where the free drinks and snacks are, where an older employee will want to take a deep dive into the benefits package.”  You can learn a lot, Andersen says, from what each individual employee is most interested in.

New companies can make a critical mistake by assuming everyone in the organization wants the same thing. “Startups tend to set up an environment where the employees are expected to participate in things like Nerf Gun battles in the office because that’s their culture and they’re fun and creative.” Andersen cautions that assuming everyone wants in on something like that can alienate some workers.

“Make sure you’re setting up events for the whole group,” he says. “Don’t make them feel like they’re choosing to not be a part of the group if they don’t want to participate in a crazy event.”

There is also a direct correlation between how a member of your team gets (or wants to get) their information and how they want to be managed.

Millennials absorb more information in the first 15 minutes of every day than their parents get in a week. This lightning-fast stream of information extends into their work life as well.

Strap yourself in. The next generation is going to want information, feedback, and data even faster.

Generation Z, or “The Linksters” as some are calling them, will be entering the workforce soon, and if you struggled to manage some Millennial traits, Generation Z will feel like that and then some.

“Linksters” have never known a world without social media and apps, likely never had a land-line telephone or learned cursive. They communicate electronically- face-to-face interaction may be difficult for them- and they’re going to want everything right now.

Generation Z (born 1995-2009) are entering the work force. They have never known a world without electronics and instant communication and are likely to have shorter attention spans than Millennials and high expectations of their managers.

The addition of a new generational personality to the workforce may cause problems for rigid managers.

“You can’t just blanket your team with one type of management,” Anderson says. “Your management style has to be catered to the individual. You can still keep your core principals and characteristics, but if you try the same thing for an older employee as you do for a Millennial, it’s just not going to work.”

Another challenge: Millennials and Linksters will demand a lot of your attention.  That may leave older employees feeling left out. Andersen says the solution is to be transparent.

“Have open conversations,” he says, “and make sure you get to a place where all sides feel comfortable.”

One method of bridging that gap between younger employees’ need for immediate feedback and an older employees’ desire to feel wanted is a robust employee rewards program.

“A points-based rewards system is a great tool for the frequent, direct feedback younger employees are craving. They don’t want yearly reviews. If you can engage them in real time they’re more likely to perform better, feel connected, and stay around longer.” Andersen goes on to say older employees who might be accustomed to a bonus-based rewards system can get behind point-based programs as well, noting that everyone regardless of their “generation” enjoys being told they are doing good work.

This type of real-time attention can help retain younger talent. Millennials are very willing to leave a job they don’t feel connected to, and most will have plenty of options since aggressive headhunters and recruiters are likely already knocking on their door.

Make no mistake- managing a multi-generational workplace takes time, effort and strategy.  An in-depth knowledge of your teams’ personalities goes a long way towards keeping everyone happy and your staff intact.

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