Raymond Morin
July 7, 2016

Why Millennials Should Be Mentored, Not Managed

With the influx of new digital generations (Y and Z) in the labor market, boomers and those of Generation X who are in command positions must completely rethink their management approach and instead adopt the attitude of a coach or mentor. These who many call the millennials, want to be involved and be part of the changes. In contrast to traditional management, where we present the rules determining of what needs to be done and what should not, employers should rather be listening, placing themselves in continual learning situation, and installing a truly collaborative culture.

Motivate Millennials By Involving Them in Changes

To motivate millennials, it is essential to encourage their involvement in transforming organizations. We must build on their natural curiosity and creativity by throwing challenges. Leaders need to listen to the new generations and solicit their participation in decisions. The young GenY and GenZ want to be heard and want us to take their ideas into consideration.

They also want to have their say, and for their actions to count. You have to give them responsibilities and provide the necessary framework to succeed. Young people of the new generations need to be motivated by what they do, and to feel that they are regularly provided the opportunity to excel.

It can stimulate the involvement of new generations in the workplace in several ways. In particular, by organizing brainstorming lunches, or various thematic activities for the exchange and sharing of experiences. They must feel that they are part of the solution, and can contribute to the success of the organization.

Providing a Flexible and Challenging Work Environment

Millennials also need to evolve in an environment that resembles them. Nearly 40% of young GenZ argue that new technologies are critical in the performance of their duties, and are their best asset for professional development. It is therefore necessary to establish working conditions that encourage their creativity.

New generations also expect a flexible and stimulating environment that reflects their values, and promotes a work / life balance. In this sense, the Y and Z generations want more autonomy, and put more emphasis on performance-based compensation plans.

Organisations must therefore strive to find a balance between social life and work by adapting working hours and encouraging mobile or home work. We must ensure that the workplace proves consistent with their values, and contribute to their happiness and personal fulfillment. Young Y and Z want to find fun at work, and to realize their passion. For them, this satisfaction is more important than compensation.

Develop a Culture of Collaboration and Exchange

The new generations in the workplace need to have the feeling of being part of a team and contribute to the results. To get the most of each player, CEOs must learn how to coach young Y and Z, much like a sports team. There needs to be a culture of collaboration, with an emphasis on the exchanging of ideas and knowledge sharing. The millennial youth need to feel that they share the same goals, and they seek the same results. So we must promote direct relations set in the team. One can, for example, organize group lunches, sports team building activities or other group outings to strengthen ties. A recent Randstad Canada study (click here for the PDF download) showed that nearly half (47%) of Canadian youth of Generation Z consider that face-to-face meetings are the most effective way to collaborate at work. I suspect that this is somewhat similar all over the world.

Establish Awareness and Social Involvement Programs

Integrate the new generations in the activities and strategies on the web and social media also proves crucial in the social transformation of enterprises and organizations. Better informed and made aware than ever, consumers – users are now demanding greater transparency brands, and they show a real social involvement.

With this in mind, several companies are developing outreach programs and volunteer community involvement from hiring, to offer new employees the opportunity to contribute to change. These are generally unifying projects, which include staff around a common social cause, and which enable young people to feel millennials to participate in the common good, and to know that their work will have a social sense.

Mentor Rather Than Manage

Companies and organizations also have every reason to enjoy the experience and skills of older workers, and to pair them with young new generations entering the labor market. Boomers and older Gen X who still occupy decision-making positions, have developed very early person of relational skills – to – person who can contribute to their advancement. In this sense, they must take a role of coach and mentor millennials significant.

New generations expect also that their boss act with them in that light. In the study by Randstad, over a third (34%) wish they could have a mentor-like relationship with their manager, who they would like to regularly comment on the results of their work. As for the older Generation Y, only just over a quarter (26%) of respondents endorse this ¨neoleadership¨ approach, and prefer to remain independent.

Learning Through Trial and Error

Rather than tell the new generations what to do and what not to do, we must remember that the best way to learn is still the process of trial and error. Young Y and Z generations want to be in environments where they are constantly learning. Business leaders and leaders of organizations must therefore offer them challenges that enable them to excel, and empower them by providing all the autonomy and latitude necessary, for them to carry out their mandate in their own way.

With guidance and adequate support, employers must trust millennials and let them try their experiences and make their own mistakes. The real learning does not happen in the books, but on the ground. With this in mind, leaders must act as coaches, explaining how they were successful or why they have failed. And, importantly, how they can improve their results.

What do you think? How do you manage your work environment with the new generations? Share your ideas and your experience with our readers, commenting on this article. 


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Raymond Morin

SMO Senior Consultant, Author/Blogger and Speaker at Virage 2.0
Strategic analyst / consultant for over 20 years, specializing in optimizing Web marketing / social media for businesses and organizations, Raymond Morin is also the author of three reference guides (in French), and co-author of three other books about digital marketing, public relations and human resources management. A recognized professional blogger, in both languages, he regularly presents and facilitates conferences for organizations, as well as in-house training workshops. In English, he contributes monthly to various platforms of professional bloggers and social media influencers. His next book, Generation C - Confluence Marketing at the Era of Connected Consumers, will be published next fall on Friesen Press Publishing.