As all of us know, businesses operates on a series of essential activities that need to be performed on a daily basis (e.g. answering phone calls, filing, updating databases …). These activities are normally pretty monotonous and repetitious, and usually fall to junior employees due to their lack of experience. Being that so, the way you approach its delegation can really make the difference. Above all, having into account that we Millennials love challenges and try to avoid monotony.

If you take an ‘order and command’ approach and say: “Ben, please, put these 100 folders in alphabetical order”, without further explanations or additional words, I can assure you that Ben is going to feel miserable in a short period of time. However, if instead of this approach you follow the advice of J.R. Dorsey, and try to turn the monotonous task at hand into a challenge, your probabilities of enhancing your junior’s motivation will increase. For instance, you can say: “How fast do you think you can alphabetize these folders without error? Just say these words and your junior employee will be focused on the outcome (challenge) rather than thinking of the boredom of repeating the same activity again and again.

Another way of making these tasks more ‘digestible’ is as simple as asking our opinion to improve the process. It is an easy form of empowerment that will impact on the Millennial’s self-fulfilment and sense of recognition. I am sure you will be surprised with some of their answers, since I am also sure that they had been thinking about suggestions since the first time you delegated the menial task. For example, as suggested by J.R. Dorsey, you could say: “Hi John. I need you to sweep the floor, but I know you have a bigger future at our company than being a floor sweeper. So while you’re sweeping the floor, I’d like you to think of ways we can keep the floor from getting so dirty all the time or ways to make it easier to clean next time. Your ideas could really help us out. ”

Finally, another good approach that, from my point of view, could work in these situations is to provide the Millennial with the whole picture and a purpose. Explain to them why this task is vital for the company and how it helps to the project at hand. In my early years as a barrister I will never forget how many hours I spent searching for legal cases that state the exact sentence that my boss had told me to look for. I can guarantee that the first two hours were challenging because you can learn a lot from legal cases, but this feeling doesn’t last for eight consecutive hours. Furthermore, many times my searches were unsuccessful because I didn’t see the whole picture. Nobody bother to explain it to me! So, it resulted really frustrating… For this reason, when I was senior enough to delegate this task to more junior lawyers, I used to take at least 10 minutes to explain to them what the whole legal strategy was and how this search would help us to build it. I could really notice the difference in their faces!

This last bit is really related to the thesis sustained by Dan Pink in his book “Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us“. If you haven’t read the book, I strongly recommend you all to watch this video summary, which I personally find really enlightening:

More motivational advice on my next post!