Q. I am worried that a huge gap exists between the older employees and younger employees at my firm. The Millennials seem totally different from my more experienced employees and I’m not sure how that will translate when the older generations retire. What can I do to reduce this gap? I do not want to be left with a whole generation of underprepared managers.
A. It’s no secret that Millennials are a different breed. The product of interconnectedness, Millennials are fluent in social media, collaboration and communication. Their skillset is noticeably different from Generation Y’s and Baby Boomers. This is both advantageous and problematic. As Millennials ascend into business prominence, companies will need to address and bridge the gap between Millennials and other generations. Here’s how.
-Invite Millennials to leadership meetings. Millennials are hungry for knowledge and eager to learn. Giving them exposure to how managers operate, and the best practices for corporate leaders will pay dividends in the near future – after all, they are the leaders of the future.
-Give them stretch assignments. Take them out of their comfort zone. Millennials are happy to attack a new challenge, and it will help them develop their problem solving skills. Additionally, they will feel a sense of value and purpose in their work.
-Ask them what skills they want to develop. Remember, many Millennial employees are fresh out of college – and you can only learn so much in a classroom. Communicate with them and give them assignments based on their area of interest. This will help keep Millennials engaged, focused and proud of the work they are doing.
-Collaborate with them. Millennials are the first “digitally native” generation, which has resulted in their affinity for collaboration. It has also resulted in a new type of knowledge, one that older generations can learn from. Millennials can effortlessly navigate an entire generation of technology that Generation Y and Baby Boomers might not understand. Be a student and learn from them.
-Have them present projects. When it comes to public speaking, practice makes perfect. Millennials are great at communicating…online. Many of them are uncomfortable with the idea of presenting to a group; however, this is a necessary skill for a future manager. Have Millennials present early and often – eventually they will warm up to the idea of public speaking.
-Offer them training. Management training can provide the needed information to close the gaps in their current skills, and remind them they have much to learn.
Millennials bring a lot to the table, but they also have a lot to learn. In order to bridge the gap between generations, managers must be both teachers and students. Discover their interests, challenge them to think, and collaborate with them – you might be surprised how much you’ll learn as well.
-Elaine Varelas, Managing Partner, Keystone Partners