Millennials are an unusual breed. A lot of older executives love to gripe about the entitlement and the sensitivity of the generation. While it’s unfair to consider them in that light – so many millennials are excellent workers who are well educated and highly motivated. There is a lot to be said about the fact that millennials, having grown up with the growth of the Internet and in a time when cultural expectations are changing, are slightly different to their older counterparts. They have different hopes and aspirations, and they consider their role in the workplace differently because of that.
If you want to get millennials on your side and working for your company, then you have to have a mutually beneficial relationship with them. This means providing them with training that is of value to them and that will let them be of value to you. It means that if you’re hosting a conference for industry, and if you want to appeal to millennials, you need to work with them from the start. Get a keynote speaker who is still relevant to the industry. One who has done work recently, and knows what it is really like on the ground. Where some older managers do see the value in “paper qualifications” and “theory crafting,” the younger generation put a lot more of their respect for people who have done things for real.
A funny keynote will discuss real issues, with real-life stories and a person that speaks from experience. It’s hard, to sum up, the thoughts or feelings of a generation because every individual is different but you are more likely to appeal to millennials if you can show both an understanding of why they are jaded about some things and an understanding of the optimism that they have. As a generation that faces difficulties, but is still young enough to be optimistic, engaging with them means being pragmatic, but showing a willingness to try new things.
When it comes to training, it pays to be able and willing to answer the “why” to a lot of the things that they are being told to do. As education has evolved, people, in general, are becoming less willing just to do as they are told, and are more likely to ask questions about every instruction that they are given. This is both a blessing and a curse. Previous generations were taught “to be good workers” – to turn up, sit down, do a task by following a process, and leave. This worked for the factory era but it is not so good for knowledge workers, and that’s where the struggle starts to come in. If you want your employees to do a good job, then you will need to make sure that they have the tools and the confidence to think for themselves. Millennials have the willingness to do this and to test boundaries, but are you willing to provide them with the training to do it well?