If you’ve been frustrated by the work ethic of your people, entitlement mentality, the lack of commitment, and the addiction to their smartphones, then this will be helpful.
There’s a name for these young people, and that’s millennials.
I’m going to look at some of the reasons why millennials can be different to manage and hire plus some strategies of how to best engage them and fulfil their needs in the workplace to get your team functioning at full capacity.
(If you’ve ever heard of a guy called Simon Sinek, he’s an expert on the topic, you can check out more of his stuff on YouTube)
So why is this relevant to us?
Millennials make up a huge part of the trades workforce.
If you think about your current roster you probably have at least one if you aren’t one yourself.
Millennials have been given a lot of stick over the past few years, for being unfocused, hard to manage, lazy, and the big ones “Entitled”.
But why are these stereotypes being given?
Simon says there are four main reasons.
The first one is parenting.
Most millennials grew up being told that you can have anything you want, be anything you want and all you need to do is want it.
There’s also constantly being told that they were special and with changes in political correctness many were given grades at school based on the teacher’s conversations with what we call “difficult parents” and basically, if mum complained enough, I could get a better mark.
The second one is technology.
So millennials are a Facebook and social media generation.
Social media can be an amazing tool for communication, marketing, and entertainment.
However, it’s really addictive.
“Likes and approval” give the brain a hit of dopamine.
Is the same chemical produced when we drink, smoke, or gamble.
And it makes us feel really good, but it’s also really addictive.
The main problem with this is that we see everything on social media with a filter.
So the persona people project on Facebook is only the highlight of their day, and often an ecstatic selfie with an inspiring caption is taken by someone sitting alone silence not happy at all.
This sets an unrealistic expectation to millennials of needing to be happy and successful at all times.
And also that everybody has it all figured out except them, which is a really tough reality to live up to.
It also leads to difficulty building interpersonal relationships, as millennials often have more contact over messages and chat than physically talking to someone.
Making conversations much easier when you can write and rewrite your message until it’s perfect, gaining approval of wording from other friends before sending it, and not ever being put on the spot to think on your feet for a real-time reply.
Many millennials often lack the skills to express themselves fully in person.
Number three is impatience.
So, millennials are from a right NOW generation.
I want pizza, it’ll be here in five minutes.
I want to see a movie, it’s instantly available on Netflix. I don’t have to wait for movie times.
I like a TV show, I can binge the whole series. I don’t have to wait for next week.
I want a date. I can jump on Tinder and swipe right.
No social skills needed. Instant stud muffin.
The problem comes when I want job fulfillment and meaningful relationships.
There’s no app for that and no understanding of how to build something over time.
The fourth one is environment.
Working environments tend to focus on results and numbers more than they do on personal development of employees.
Getting the job finished and making sure the customer is happy while still making a profit is really important.
Wouldn’t it be great if they got over their issues like everybody else and were productive?
The thing is they can’t.
Whether knowing that they could be managed the same way as other generations or not, or understanding the reasons why and how other generations find them frustrating, it doesn’t change their beliefs or their values.
So what do they want?
The main theme is impact, but what does impact look like?
They don’t actually know.
They know the feeling they’re after, but not the specifics of how to achieve that feeling.
Now, they hit the workforce and suddenly nothing’s instant. No one cares.
I can’t have whatever I want just because I want it.
Mom can’t help, and I turned to Facebook as my numbing addiction.
Only to see that everybody else is winning.
So what’s the opportunity for us?
Well, the opportunity you have is that we have a group of people that are really energetic and young that came to make an impact in your business.
And if you can get them engaged, they can be a huge and hardworking asset.
Now, millennials almost seem like they are standing at the bottom of a mountain.
With the concept of impact being the summit.
The problem is they just don’t see the mountain.
So what are three things that we can do to help them climb the mountain, and climb it effectively?
The first one is pathway.
So the thing that they need to know is that it’s not necessarily about promotion.
Pathway is about having a plan for development and showing that thought’s been given for progression and betterment of skills.
Things like pay raises and bonuses for achievement are good, but they need to have a clear picture of what achievement actually looks like and an actual way to level up.
Remember, millennials are from a generation of video gamers.
They have a big attachment to the concept of achieving results, and then moving through the levels as a result of their achievements.
An example would be your apprentices.
When you’re taking on an apprentice, you must give them a pathway to move through and show them what things look like as they progress from where they are to where they want to be.
Show them what’s required in terms of real experience and qualifications.
You’ll get a lot more engagement and they’ll work much more effectively within your team.
The next one is transparency.
So with millennials, you need to have a plan that’s got to be fully transparent to them.
Wanting impact isn’t quite the right thing to say here.
Millennials say they want impact, but what they really want is to feel valued.
Millennials need to see that their work is valuable and important to the company and full transparency and communication or praise for their performance is essential.
So when they do a good job on-site, or they the initiative for something they didn’t have to do or they go above and beyond their normal duties, you must let them know that you appreciate what they’ve done, even if it’s just a pat on the back.
And the third one is inclusion.
Millennials want to have an impact and wanting to be included in decision-making and strategy where possible is a good way for them to feel like they have that.
Wanting to feel like they have some say in the operations that they’re responsible for is important, or often they won’t feel responsible for it at all.
So that’s with things like creating your core values, your rules of the game, or getting them involved in strategy.
For example, how can we get the guys to fill in their job cards consistently?
Or what system can we create to keep the vehicles clean and tidy?
If it’s something that’s going to directly involve the millennial and it’s something that might affect the way that they do their job, it’s important they feel like they’re part of the decision-making process, even if they’re not part of it at all.
So using questions in which they feel like they came to the conclusions themselves is an effective way to make them feel engaged with it.
Even if you’ve come to those conclusions before you’ve had the meeting, or you’re writing a checklist, creating a system, or whatever you’re doing at the time, asking questions and getting the millennials to feel that they came up with the solutions is a really good way of getting them engaged with those strategies.
As I said, millennials don’t actually want impact.
It’s what they think they want, but what they want is to feel valued, appreciated, and that they’re an important cog in the machine that is your business.
They want to be trusted to work independently and effectively, but they need to be shown that trust is formed over long periods.
So not on a team fun day, not being added on Facebook, but in small interactions.
So that’s things like being on-site and saying, “Hey, how’s your family? Your son must be getting bigger. I haven’t seen him in ages. Yeah, he’s walking now and trying to say words here and there. Man, that’s awesome. You must be stoked”
Interactions like that.
That’s how trust is formed. It takes a long time and it’s not something that can be done instantly.
Remember, millennials are from a world of superficial friendships, and the number of followers you have on Instagram is more representative of your popularity than the number of friends that you have in real life.
They may not view relationship building the same way as the team and may feel that following each other on social media is a sign of friendship and trust, whereas the rest of the team will value consistency, reliability, and honesty, which take time and commitment to demonstrate.
The next thing is that millennials don’t need to be promised the world.
They don’t need a pathway leading to a foreman or operations manager, all they want to know is that there’s a plan for them and that there are milestones to achieve if they actually want to achieve them.
So having checkpoints is a really easy way to keep them focused and also to hold them accountable.
If you’ve got a plan for your apprentice to move an apprentice, to a qualified tradesman, to a formal operations manager, or whatever it might be.
It actually doesn’t matter whether or not they’d like to take that path.
It’s just important for them to know that the path is there and important for them to see the checkpoints and milestones that they’d have to achieve in order to take that group.
What’s really important about that is to never use time as a criteria.
If a millennial asks why they aren’t where they want to be, you need to make measurements based on measurable experience and performance.
For example, if your apprentice complains about working the most hours for the least amount of don’t tell them it’s a matter of time before things will change.
You’ve got to give them a clear set of achievement milestones to aim for, and types of jobs that they need experience in order to make those steps.
That way, they see the pathway, they see the mountain, and you’ve actually managed their expectations so that they understand that they need to climb that mountain in order to reach the summit.
So anyway, guys, I hope that was helpful.
All the best with your teams going forward.
Millennials make up a huge part of our workforce.
So creating an environment for them to succeed will hugely help in making you an employer of choice.
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