How did we (millennials) become such a polarizing generation? The generations ahead of us and behind us seem mystified, not sure what to think of us. They usually use the word millennail as a punchline. It’s gotten pretty tired at this point. It’s lazy and, generally, lacks any evidence based backing. It reminds me of a comedian who just goes up there and keeps cranking out Trump jokes. It’s the low hanging fruit, and people aren’t really impressed by it anymore. The fact is, there’s no more “wrong” with millennials than there was / will be “wrong” with any previous or future generation. Each generation is misunderstood in its own special way.
However you feel about us, you better get used to us at the very least. By 2020, millennials will make up over 50% of the workforce. By that logic, it seems it’d be in your best interest to think about a few things that could help you attract and retain them.
Have a Cause
The HBO series Silicon Valley had a great episode where a bunch of tech startups were pitching. Every one of them either said the word “revolutionize” or the phrase “make the world a better place.” I can’t remember exactly, but they probably combined them in some way as well. The writers for that show are so on it. I found it hilarious, but I also thought about it a little bit. How many entrepreneurs go into business with the intent of NOT making the world a better place? In some way, shape, or form a business must make the world a better place for someone in order to be successful. If your company doesn’t make the world at least marginally better for someone, it fails.
Millennial workers want to feel that they’re making the world a better place for someone. It’s your job to show them who and why. In my case, it’s kind of easy. Spared helps alleviate student loan debt. Even if someone doesn’t have student debt, they know plenty of people who do. They hear about how it’s impacting their friends lives. Everyone at Spared knows it’s a noble cause. But your business doesn’t have to address some “sexy” problem to have a cause. You can find all kinds of ways to get involved with the community and show your employees you’re a force for good. Make clothing? Donate some to local homeless shelters. Marketer? Do some pro-bono work for local charities to help them raise money. This stuff isn’t hard. Use your skills to do some good for other people. Millennials care about that and so should you.
Let Them Do Their Thing
Assuming you put the necessary effort into hiring and got good people, get the hell out of their way. If you could do their job better than them with the time available to you at this stage of your business, you probably shouldn’t have hired them. Many millennials feel unchallenged and underutilized in their current roles. They’re ready, willing, and able to show you what they can do. Don’t micromanage them. Give them all the responsibility their role calls for and maybe even a bit more. Involve them in strategy discussions. Let them know their input is important. Don’t do the “everyone has a voice but not really” thing either. Listen to them when they speak. Give them your attention. They’re more skilled and insightful than you may think.
Know Your Role as a Leader
It’s possible you’re misinformed about what it means to be a leader. Leadership is not delegation. It is not telling people what to do. Leadership is service. You should be asking, “What can I do to help?” a lot. Your job as a leader isn’t to wrestle everybody into submission and then drive them in the direction that best protects your job. That kind of leadership is a big part of a soul-crushing job. You hired rock stars! Just make sure they have the resources and freedom they need to create. Asking what you can do to help also has an amazing knack for uncovering non-resource related problems in the workplace which gives you the ability to address them directly and in a timely manner. Just remember that to serve is to lead. You’ll be fine as long as you do that.
What do you guys think? What am I missing? What do you think about the stuff here? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and (share on social links/buttons).