The inconvenience of having to wash-up a spoon and bowl, has reportedly led to 40% of millennials discounting cereal as a viable breakfast option. This, according to the naysayers, is causing the slow demise of the cereal industry.

That’s the latest accusation being levelled at a generation already branded as lazy, know-it-all, shallow narcissists – ready to bin their job off the nanosecond they feel their employer isn’t giving them want they need.  

But if all of these millennial stereotypes are to be believed, how on earth would employers cope with handling this generation in the workplace? With millennials set to account for 50% of the global workforce by 2020, surely the world is going grind to an economic halt?

The multigenerational game

The truth is, that while it’s the millennials that get all the negative headlines, business owners are having to adapt to a huge generational shift. We’re now in the era of the multigenerational workplace, where its common for at least three out of a potential five generations to coexist in the workplace at one time, including:

The challenge that managers and business owners of today face, is developing the right communication strategies so that all generations can engage at a level where productivity isn’t compromised. But this is no easy task, when you consider that each has its own viewpoints, interests, priorities and communication preferences.  

The kids are alright

I’ve never been comfortable with all the millennial bashing that goes on from certain sections of the press. Every generation is different from the last and the Baby Boomers probably loathed the Gen X’ers when they came along – but that’s just progress.

As an employer, we have a number of incredibly bright millennials in the team.  Yes, they differ in a number of ways from other generations, but for me that’s a huge positive.

If I was to make a list of what I think makes the perfect employee for my business, then most of these traits would be typical of millennials. These would include being tech and social media savvy, independent, focused on feedback, training and progression, plus being very social.  Where’s the negative?

Don’t manage Millennials, lead them

The key to managing millennials is to not manage them at all. The majority of millennials are independent and single-minded, often craving the chance to make their own decisions rather than having them made for them. So lead them instead of managing them.

It’s always been known that you shouldn’t question authority, but this is something millennials do frequently. They always want to know why. So make sure that when you tell them what you want them to do you also share why you want them to do it. Millennials don’t want to be given meaningless tasks to keep them busy, they want to be sure their work matters and contributes to the larger success of the company.

Millennials also want feedback 50% more than other employees. It’s common for millennials to be quick and receptive to change, so it is understandable then, that they require a regular feedback loop rather than waiting around for their annual performance review to find out that they need to be improving, when they could be doing something about it right now.

While millennials are getting this bad rap for being difficult to manage, when you break it down you aren’t having to radically change your management styles. What millennials crave is to be treated as individuals and real people, which, really, is how everyone should be treated in your business.

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