Most of the complaints that we have about them is our fault, the way we raised them, the way we coddled them, helicopter them, and enabled them. We’ve wanted to shield them from all the challenges made a strong, and in so doing, in some cases have weaken their ability to cope with difficulties and trials.
On the other hand, millennials are giving us a great gift if we would just open our eyes and stop judging them. They are less motivated by extrinsic factors. Carrots and sticks don’t drive them. When they identify a cause greater than themselves they jump all in. They are willing to sacrifice their personal life, their emotional health, positions of power or money. They can teach us a lot about what matters most.
Fundamental attribution error leads us to a fixed mindset, and limits our influence with young people.
So how do we lead, inspire, connect with and motivate millennials who in a few years will make up 3/4 of the workforce?
- Give them meaningful work.
- Honor their desire to balance personal and professional life. Most aren’t going to be committed to work. Find out what they are committed to and help them be aligned with those commitments. Inspire them and coach them to accomplish what they are committed to. They will either leave your organization or they will be all in for you.
- Don’t insult them with carrots as motivators. What drives them isn’t money. As long as the money is in the ballpark, more money won’t motivate them.
- Have career conversations with them so you know what their professional goals are. If they are in alignment with their skillset and your organizations needs, you can provide them with growth opportunities.
- Old school control won’t work. They are resistant to authority. You must authentically care about them and relate with them. They will embrace accountability if they are aligned with the mission of the organization and they know that you care about them.
- Culture is huge–what words describe your company culture? Does it align with your workforce? What are your organizations values? Are there inconsistencies with what you’ve declared as your values and what your employees experience? Authenticity, integrity are huge here.
- Acknowledge them. Specific acknowledgments in the way they want to be acknowledged. They are unique individuals. Some will want to be acknowledged publicly and others will cringe at it, preferring to work behind the scenes.