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Business Wisdom March 25, 2015

3 Simple Ways to Motivate Millennials at the Workplace

I am consistently confused by all the negativity that is associated with Millennials in the workplace.

Sadly, Generation Y has been labeled as self-absorbed, impatient and disloyal; misconceptions that are playing a big role in the formation of new talent management practices across today’s organizations.

Leaders are struggling to understand the ways that they can attract and retain top talent from this generational segment and considering that these individuals are set to make up the majority of the workforce in the coming years, understanding how to engage Gen Y is of critical importance.

Here are 3 things that your organization can do to fire up the Millennials in your team in order to drive high performance, keep them engaged and help facilitate interest in future leadership development opportunities.

1. Show Them the Plan

Millennials have been said to be particularly interested in the manner and pace of their progress inside of an organization. They were brought up taking their parent’s linear career paths as a model for their own progression and want to know where they are headed in the long term. 

As the traditional linear career trajectory doesn’t exist anymore, without a clear understanding of the way careers are being developed by your company, many young employees will become disengaged, less productive, and more inclined to seek employment elsewhere.

Generation Y has been labeled as self-absorbed, impatient and disloyal... these misconceptions play a big role in the formation of new talent.

By giving your Millennial talent an indication of where you see them progressing (and how you can help them get there) you will be able build strong relationships of trust. 

Being honest about career progression will keep your Gen Ys motivated and focused on developing with your company rather than making other plans.

2. Ask Them to Participate

If your Millennials are expressing interest in getting involved with more things, it might imply that they are genuinely curious about different aspects of your business. 

Don’t stifle their curiosity!

By encouraging Gen Ys to explore different opportunities, you will be able to help them find the place within the organization where they will add the most value and excel. In addition, asking for a curious Millennial's opinion on something that is not directly related their specific expertise will make them feel more professionally valued. 

Here are some ways you can ask for Gen Y participation in new tasks:

  • "I know you have expressed interest in getting involved with this project before so I’m curious about what you think regarding how it is coming together?"
  • "The VP asked me to do something that I know interests you, would you like to get involved in a supporting role?"

What's more, they may help you solve problems through non-conventional ways that you had overlooked.

3. Show That You Care

To be an effective leader, you must extend your skill set past technical mastery. As a leader, it is your job to understand the emotional aspects of working with others and furthermore, to show that you actually care about your direct reports. 

Millennials often seek out organizations who value them as both people and professionals. As a leader, you cannot underestimate this reality. 

Here are some questions you can ask to show that you care:

  • "I know you had some hesitation with this project when we first spoke. How is it progressing? Is there anything I can do to support you?"
  • "I know that things have been really crazy around here recently. How is the workload now? Is there anything that we can do together to make things go smoother?"
  • "When we last spoke, it seemed like you were a bit stressed out about something. Is there anything that I am missing that can help you get what you need from me or your teammates?"
  • "I want to help you succeed here, what can I do to get things off on the right track?"

Displaying empathy towards your employees' needs is generally one of the best ways you can work towards becoming a better leader but it is a must if you are looking to unlock the discretionary effort of your Gen Y workforce.

Final Thoughts

Although many feel that generational divides pose a difficult challenge for today’s organizations, it’s important to keep in mind that this gap in both age and experience is actually a fantastic opportunity for your business.

By bringing together the knowledge and experience of older employees with the diverse perspectives and infectious energy of younger workers, today’s organizational landscape is being primed for positive reinvention. 

If you embrace what Millenials can bring to the table and coach them for success, there is no question that they will positively shape the next chapter of your business’ story.

This article originally appeared on the Knightsbridge blog and is copyright of Knightsbridge, 2015.

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