As a baby boomer CEO, I think my generation has mislabeled the Millennial generation as entitled.
I’ve hired and managed literally thousands of people in my career, including scores of Millennials. First and foremost, they hate being labeled Millennials.
I’ve also observed many people in my generation call Millennials entitled, lacking in motivation, and lacking in commitment. Although I have seen some of these traits in some Millennials, it hasn’t been my experience that these men and women exhibit these characteristics any more than other generations, including Baby Boomers and Gen Xers.
In managing your team, who more and more will be comprised of Millennials, it is important to resist labeling them, and consider these eight ideas to drive a higher level of engagement:
1. Ignite their passion.
Keeping your team in the dark and feeding them lots of horse manure has never been an effective management philosophy, and it is totally ineffective with Millennials. They will revolt en masse much more quickly than prior generations if you use it.
In hiring anyone, you should of course focus on roles and responsibilities, and how the candidate’s skills and abilities match with that. However, you also need to consider what you stand for, what you are trying to accomplish in the big picture, and hire candidates that have a cultural match and passion for those things. If you have that, you can be more transparent, and ignite their passion.
2. Align work with core values.
Millennials want their work to have a purpose. They want to make the world a better place.
Most importantly, they believe that life is about more than achievement. The more your company represents and aligns with the core values of your team, the more likely you’ll have a motivated and committed work force.
3. Consider of the role of work and personal goals.
More than prior generations, Millennials want happiness, passion, diversity, collaboration and discovery. They’re not willing to set aside these needs for the hope and promise of achievement and advancement later. It puts more pressure on management to lead effectively, and create an environment that meets many of these personal needs and desires.
4. Create work and roles that are fulfilling.
Top performers of any generation want to know how their work contributes to the big picture. Active engagement and listening are critical to keeping Millennials engaged, committed and satisfied with their work.
Is this entitlement? I don’t think so. It sounds more like a demand that leaders lead.
5. Embrace that your employees may want something different.
The Millennial generation has been raised in a world of more choices. They know that they have lots of options in all aspects of their lives. They don’t see just one path available to them.
As a leader, you need to have open discussions with the individuals on your team about what is next for them, and even be open to the idea that what is best for an individual may not be available in your company. That said, if you have a real superstar, you should do everything in your power to create the right opportunities for them.
6. Be aware that there’s a lack of trust of authority.
Baby Boomers may have bought into the belief that loyalty to a company would lead to job security, but even that’s changed over the last couple decades–with massive layoffs, closing of well established businesses, and the global meltdown of the economy.
Millennials don’t buy into the idea of job security, and thus don’t have blind loyalty to corporations. The data proves out that there’s no more job security in a large organization than a small one, so Millennials are right.
7. Be open to ideas on how to do things differently.
Smart people have good ideas. Good leaders listen to the individuals on their team, and make sure that they implement many of their ideas.
This is a more collegial and collaborative approach to management and leadership than the traditional hierarchical approach. You can still make rapid decisions and have a bias toward action, even if you engage your team, including times of urgent crisis. When you make a decision, it’s critical that you inform and involve your team in decisions.
8. Embrace the areas where your Millennial employees are different–and even better–than you.
Millennials are the first generation that grew up with mobile devices, social media, and continuous digital communication. Take the time to understand their perspective. Seek to understand how they think, and why they think that way.
If you want to drive more significant business success, it’s worth understanding their perspective and crafting your strategy around many of their ideas. Give them the opportunity to lead.
Global consumer spending will be increasingly from the Millennial generation, so who better to lead strategies than people who can relate and understand better than anyone else?
This article originally appeared in Inc Magazine.