By Nancy J. Lewis, MS, SHRM-CP, PHR, RCC
As the workforce continues to evolve with more and more Millennials entering the workforce, it is critical that organizations learn how to leverage the skills of this co-hort group to improve retention. Certainly, Millennials look at work with a different perspective as most generations when entering the workforce have done. Boomers must learn that this highly educated and innovative generational co-hort group is shaking things up and not coming to the workforce with the intention of staying for years and years. The days of employees coming to work for a major organization for 20+ years is no longer a reality. So here are 5 keys to help you in leveraging their talents and skills in the workplace for the time you have them as employees.
1. Tap into their technology skills to help you look at processes and work tasks with a new and more effective way. Challenge them to look at how things are done for a specific task and see if they can find a more efficient way of doing the task. Give them guidelines and structure around the project and let them go for it. Remind them that this special assignment does not replace their regular job roles and responsibilities.
2. Provide them with ongoing feedback about how they are doing on special projects along with their regular responsibilities. Millennials grew up with feedback and it is expected. This is the norm for them. Failure to give them feedback often has them thinking they are not doing things the right way. The feedback must be directed at the behavior or job role with specific examples. Remember this group has been raised on lots of positive feedback and many were recipients of participation awards in competitive events. So constructive feedback is not going to be music to their ears and maybe met with resistance. The reality is to give it in a way that is respectful focusing on the specific areas in need of correction. Constructive feedback should be given in person not in a text or email. This facilitates dialogue and the ability to clarify any miscommunication. Positive feedback maybe given via a short and concise text, email or in person always focusing on the behavior you are pleased with. The bottom line of this, is to make sure the feedback is given consistently daily or weekly.
3. Develop two way mentorship. Let them mentor you in learning how to use digital tools more effectively and share their creativity in how to look at some of your work processes through the eyes of innovation. As a Boomer, you can share with them business etiquette, the power of good communication skills and some things that are only learned by experience. Boomer longevity on the job has allowed you to have many examples of real time situations that cannot be taught in any textbook. Mentorship both ways helps you learn, grow and appreciate the skills and abilities each generational co-hort brings to the workplace. At the end of the day, it fosters better working relationship that improves performance, productivity and profitability for the organization.
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