Many articles and books have been written on how to negotiate and motivate millennials. This article focuses on some basic elements that have proven successful and are forcing businesses to change how they hire, train and retain top talent. Millennials are driven to succeed when they are treated with respect, with an employer that is focused on its workers, with management that is transparent and most importantly when there is a collaborative environment. It’s not that complex, but it takes effort to make these things happen. It doesn’t just happen.
So how do employers do this? Read on.
Treat others with respect
Treating millennials with respect means allowing more autonomy and flexibility in the work place. That is, make it a collaborative environment and allow
everyone to offer ideas and initiative regardless of the task.
If you believe top down authoritarian leadership is appropriate, be ready to be challenged and be ready for high turnover. It can work in a crunch, but this generation is likely to want to work somewhere else where they will be appreciated and they don’t much like or respect that style of leadership.
The old adage is to treat others as you would like to be treated. This group is fast thinking and highly motived. If you indeed respect and appreciate them, they will notice. When they notice, they will appreciate their leadership. When they appreciate their leadership, they will tell other likeminded friends and relatives and you may have a great pipeline for top talent. You have to make a concerted effort to actively listen and take their ideas into consideration.
Here are eight things you can do to gain respect in the workplace. Think about what you are doing currently and ask yourself:
- Do I allow freedom of action and independence?
- Do I see employees for who they are as people or for what they can produce?
- Do I show favoritism?
- Do I walk the walk by leading by example or just talk the talk?
- Do I truly listen to my employees? Ask a trusted friend at work.
- Do I have a sense of humor?
- Am I inspirational?
- Am I warm and accessible?
Educate yourself first about differences and interests with the links on articles and books above as starters.
We are all shaped by our experiences. Try and understand theirs.
Don’t expect to be taken seriously because of your job title. Rather everyone has to earn respect and to be respectful of everyone else. Ask them what matters to them and work with them to achieve their goals. This includes at work and outside of work. Ask good questions and adapt to their interests.
Transparency means to be open and honest sharing what you can ethically, morally and legally. There are times when it is not possible to be transparent, but for the most part sharing what you know and why we are doing what we are doing goes a long way towards building trust.
Make everyone part of the decision-making process whenever possible. Show everyone that their opinions matter.
Expect negative reactions when they are not part of the decision-making process. This holds for all generations, but the millennials don’t just walk away with disgust. They get angry. They will not necessarily accept what older generations accepted. Instead, they may simply leave.
Trust and transparency really matter to employees. This takes work. It just doesn’t happen. Think of what actions you have taken to develop trust and transparency when you have the time to do it. If you take the time when you have time, you will have trust when you are under the gun.
You also have to keep in mind that sometimes you cannot be transparent. Some examples are when the data is sensitive, when legally you cannot share it, when the information may reduce your power, when the information is fluid and changing.
This approach can be highly creative and rewarding. You may be surprised at what you may learn simply because you asked. This appeals to the comments earlier on autonomy and flexibility. By making the effort and taking the time to ask and to incorporate ideas, it is possible to have a more highly motivated workforce and to have a much better negotiation.
Working together for a win-win solution rather than a win-lose alternative is far more appealing to this generation.
They were taught in school how to work collaboratively on projects and to respect other’s perspectives for a better result. If they don’t find that in the workplace, the best and brightest are likely to move on. Can you afford the cost?
It is a given that collaboration is important in the workplace. Some of the benefits are:
- Increased productivity
- Better communication
- Open innovation
- Responding more rapidly to market opportunities
- Increased efficiency
- Enhanced employee satisfaction
- Improved retention
- Quicker closure
- Shared ideas
- Develop employees quicker
This also leads to better customer satisfaction, employee satisfaction and business results. So why doesn’t this happen more? Sometimes this has to do with competition.
We are a very competitive society, but sometimes to the detriment of the overall goal. When we value collaboration over competition, the entire team and/or organization can be an even bigger winner. Reflect on what you and your team are doing and how you reinforce what behaviors with others. Everyone is paying attention to what is going on around them at work. If you make the effort to promote collaboration with others and affirm this with recognition and rewards, it will become apparent that your organization truly values collaboration. When that happens, you will see and reap the benefits.
So, there it is. Treat others with respect, be transparent, and promote collaboration. It takes effort, but if you do you will reap the rewards. Millennials are smart and they are watching. When you take the time to walk the walk, you may be surprised at how well these tips may help you and your organization.
To read more on this topic from the Harvard Law School Program on Negotiation, check out this article.