How to Manage and Motivate the Millennials

One of the biggest challenges facing all leaders is to manage and motivate their teams. Back in my day (yes that old saying), it was pretty simple – we were told what to do, had our performance review once a year and hopefully got a pay rise. If you didn’t like that, there wasn’t much choice.

Fast forward (not too many years!) and today’s leaders face a massive challenge with managing and motivating their teams. This is even more pronounced with Millennials (Gen Y’s) now close to making up the bulk of the workplace. This technologically savvy generation certainly have a different way of looking at how things are done in the workplace. I hear a number of mature aged leaders complaining about millennials wanting to be the boss in the first 5 minutes. If this is the case wouldn’t you delegate as much as you can and step out of their way, so you can focus on the big picture?

I came across a very interesting article in the AFR recently that summed up the challenges we are about to face when hiring millennials. The expert being interviewed was former human recourses veteran, Hiam Sakakini whose previous experience included 10 years at Google before co-founding consultancy ThinkChangeGrow.

I thought I’d share three of her insights and include some of my thoughts:

  • Material and pay incentives alone did not work anymore. Big picture values mattered. This generation is more motivated by the impact they are creating. It doesn’t matter how small or big your company is, do you have a vision that is compelling and motivational. What are you and your team doing that is bigger than just selling the products in your store. Who do you help? What difference do you make for your customers and community? Make sure your team know who they are helping and how.
  • Traditional models of team leader, manager, senior manager and director – these roles might end up going away. Instead it could be rotating manager roles or it could be pairs of leaders instead of just one. The thing about millennials is they like working in groups and together, they’re more social. Wow what a change from a few years ago, when we all worked our way up the corporate ladder to finally be in charge. Well possibly no more, says Sakakini. How can you change the way your business runs to accommodate this trend? We can’t just keep doing the same thing when it comes to job enhancement if this is not what people want. It’s too easy for them to leave and go somewhere else that is offering this style of management.
  • Perhaps most radically, millennials strong focus on transparency was also disrupting traditional remuneration. Sakakini has seen examples of teams arguing for a colleague to get paid more than them because they put more value into the company. Again a complete role reversal, in the old days we’d argue why is that person getting paid more than me? The days are gone when information was held by senior managers not to be shared. Millennials clearly want to know, so they are better informed and can therefore make better decisions, plus they know what’s going on. They have a much stronger sense of, is the company doing the right thing, so transparency is critical to this generation.

As leaders we have to be much more flexible with our style, changing the way we interact to match our team’s different personalities and motivations. It’s hard work, but well worth the time put in as the new generations see things differently and more creatively. They will have answers to the many questions we haven’t even asked yet and the products and services yet to be developed.

Exciting times are ahead, but we have to be able to change with them, otherwise we’ll be left behind and great employees will either leave or not join in the first place.

Roger SimpsonRoger Simpson – CEO, The Retail Solution and Author of “The Retail Solution” With over 35 years’ industry experience, Roger Simpson is recognized as Australia’s #1 Authority on customer ROI in the retail industry and as a global expert on staff coaching, customer service, and selling skills.

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