MANAGING MISTAKES TO AVOID WITH YOUNG EMPLOYEES
— 6 minutes read —
I’m not a manager, but I’m a Millennial. And even though today lots of millennials are managers themselves, I’ve heared it all about our generation when we were the “new kids on the block” a few years back. And now, it is going to be about generation Z.
This article is here to help you to not be this lousy manager, full of clichés about younger recruits who can’t see solutions and complain.
THE TRAP OF BELIEVING IN THE WRONG PROBLEM
What managers need to understand is why younger employees act like this, and turn challenges into productive solutions – effective for your business and goals.
But as soon as we start talking about those intergenerational problems, we get hit by a wave of clichés about the topic when in fact most problems are due to the fact that young recruits… are still young!
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1) “Millennials are entitled.”
This sentence comes from a video where Simon Sinek “figured out millenials”… and it is the WORST. He shows perfectly well that if you say something as if you were a master at it and have a great delivery, you can literally insult people in front of you and they’ll agree.
Younger people are often more impatient and full of energy but don’t know how to channel it. They might not be interested in certain topic and focus more on the work environment, okay. But that is not necessarily because they are millennials, Gen Z, Alpha or whatever! They are young.
And, those pitfalls come with greater reward. A good performing Gen Z will be 10 times more efficient than great gen X. Why? Because he is tech savvy and has a better understanding of consumers today!
If you are from the previous generation, you need younger employee’s energy and their knowledge on technology, you need them to have your company evolve as the world is changing. And yes, some of them are more efficient and focused than others at the same age… young people are not “all the same”.
Show that you are more emotionally more intelligent and patient, so you need to help them and work WITH them. And you’ll be able to share you experience; it is worthy to take the time to explain to younger generation that they’re not at the top of their game and that they can improve. More impact, more money and personal growth is possible, yes, but it has a price: effort. It is something you earn with time, struggle and reflexion.
2) “They are impatient to create an impact.”
This is a bit different from the previous problem as it is more about time than about efforts.
Problem: because younger generations are used to seeing a rapid change in the society they grew up in through technology and especially the internet, they might assume that the change they try to trigger will happen quickly.
Solution: Use this energy but channel it by helping them achieve small steps by giving definable goals.
As a manager, give them intermediate challenges, so they have quick wins. This will calm their thirst for creating an impact.
Don’t tell them, “haha you need to work and don’t imagine it will come like that, falling from the sky,” or they will instantly break their optimism and the communication between you too.
Also, explain that bigger changes don’t happen as fast as they can imagine. Show them the difference between short-term, middle-term, and long-term effort and results without making fun of them.
Remember Bill Gate’s quote:
We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next ten.
Show them what they are doing right and what they can readjust. In my career, I was sometimes impatient, and my mentors and managers did a great job of reassuring me about the efforts I was already doing by telling me how much time this project or this path would usually take.
3) “They are always on their phone and have no real interaction.”
Problem: Lots of young people have their phone glued to their hands and are “cut out from the real world.” It is true.
But a good manager must have empathy; if you were them, you would do the same thing as those gadgets didn’t come with instructions on how to stop using them.
It is so tempting to use such a powerful tool as a smartphone, and all the apps are designed to get you addicted to them (watch the documentary the social dilemma to learn more about that! ).
Now, the previous generation had other addictions, and today’s young blood just need help, not you yelling at them or looking down on them.
Solution: Instead of getting annoyed by the overuse of phones and throwing passive agressive remarks, show them what other “real” interactions can bring.
It is your job as an experienced manager to show them what else is interesting to do and what they can get from those experiences. Going out with colleagues brings something they can’t have only on their phones.
Also, I put “real” in brackets, because the interactions, apps, and work they do on their phone ARE real. Smartphones, the internet, and the millions of apps are tools that have real, practical value in the world, and you shouldn’t forget that Millennials know how to use them better than anyone.
This is something you can turn to your advantage. By having them teach you how to use these tools better (social media tricks, useful apps, insights on young customer behaviors etc) you can maximize your use of the device for work with a few simple rules on how to use the smartphone.
Why not have their smartphone in a box during a meeting? Why not turning them off while you have a good old-fashioned team-building activity? If you explain WHY, there will be no problem!
SO WHAT CAN YOU DO?
Make an unbeatable team: experienced and adaptable, fast-connected AND long-term oriented team.
You need to be a guide, thoughtful, and full of empathy, and explain why. It is a fact that the world is more complex today with technologies, the internet, and the thousands of factors you didn’t have 50 years ago and they need guidance.
THE BIGGEST TRAP YOU CAN FALL INTO…
The trap is to talk like an old man or woman and have an “it was better back in my days” kind of outlook.
Of course, it is impossible not to categorize and make some generalities, but you can use them as a starting point to know each person better instead of making assumptions and put people in boxes forever.
Exactly like in all generations, you will find stupid, drug addict, entitled, and/or lazy people in generation Y and Z. You can find these outliers in Generation X, Babyboomers, and in any generation and category, you can name: from engineers to magicians, from middle-age CEO to trapezists.
Please do is NOT FOLLOW the example of Simon Sinek, who has the most seen videos about millennials. What he said was very interesting, but only pessimistic. People nodded and said, “he is right, millennials are like that.”
It is very easy to see something you aren’t overly familiar with and see the negative aspects of it and I believe he felt into that trap.
I hope this short article will push you, managers, to go beyond what you see or want to see. I hope it will help you to work with the incredible potential younger employees have and turn it to your advantage to create an amazing, multidimensional, efficient team!