One of the most fraught challenges that an entrepreneur can face is the management of employees. Plenty of books have been written on the subject; plenty of classes have been taught. But it’s only when you’re suddenly sharing an office full of millennials with their own distinct personalities, strengths, weaknesses and dreams - each of whom is looking to you for leadership -- that the real learning begins.
One of the things you learn very quickly, when you hire a staff, is that a bad boss is the No. 1 reason why people quit their jobs. Nobody wants to be a bad boss. And nobody has to be a bad boss - not if you put in the time and effort it takes to become the leader that your employees need. Naturally, that’s easier said than done, particularly because employees rarely feel comfortable offering tips to their boss on how to behave.
Fortunately, entrepreneurs who hang in there long enough often become masters of putting their employees in a position to succeed. It’s a crucial part of building a viable business. Even bosses who are beloved by their staff, though, could learn to be more effective if they were better able to view the world through millennial eyes.
Simply put, millennial employees work harder and remain more loyal if they believe their boss understands them and their needs. Here are six important considerations that your millennial employees wish you recognized.
1. Their time is more valuable than money.
It’s no great secret that employees hate it when their boss keeps them in the office late or bombards them in the evenings and on weekends with emails, phone calls and homework. Don’t do that. But your respect for your employees’ time should go further than that.
Most projects require teamwork, and when one of your team members completes their part and turns it over to you, they expect you to complete it promptly so that they can move onto the next thing instead of waiting on you. It’s imperative that the boss is not a bottleneck, preventing an efficient office, so always respect your millennial employees’ time as much as your own.
2. They want to know what’s happening with the company.
Does your office operate on a need-to-know basis? Your millennial employees are probably not happy with that arrangement.
Workers usually aren’t offended if they’re not included in a company’s decision making - they know that’s your job. But they do resent being kept in the dark about the company’s plans and direction.
Employees, who endure too many surprises or can’t be sure what your business will look like in six months, begin to feel that you don’t trust them. Nobody does their best work for a boss or a business that doesn’t trust them with essential information.
3. They want to learn something.
It’s rare these days for a worker to stick with the same company for their entire career, for many complicated reasons.
One surefire way to keep them, though, is to make sure that they’re learning new skills on the job. It’s better for the company because your staff is constantly improving its knowledge and skillset, and it’s better for the employee too.
Learning something new keeps them engaged, and they know that if and when they move onto a new job, your company will have made them a better employee. If your employees aren’t learning anything, they aren’t improving themselves, and they’re apt to go someplace where they can.
4. They hate the open office concept.
For years now, more and more offices have switched to the open-office model, where employees share a communal workspace with small or nonexistent partitions between their desks. The theory is that this approach fosters communication, collaboration and transparency. But that isn’t how your millennial employees see it.
Chances are, millennials believe that you put them in an open office simply so that you could keep an eye on them. Again, this erodes trust.
Additionally, many staffers complain that the noise and distractions all around them in an open office hamper productivity. Nobody grows up hoping to work in a cube, or worse yet, around a table, like a kindergartener. And if you maintain a private office for yourself, they’ll resent you for it.
5. They want praise and a raise.
As entrepreneurs, we often expect and demand that our teams will always strive to do their best work in order to share in the company’s success. And often, they do - at least at first.
But if millennials’ hard work, engagement and sacrifice isn’t rewarded, you’ll quickly catch them turning in the bare minimum. Bosses have tried all sorts of carrots and sticks to keep their employees stretching for success, but only two things really move the needle: praising quality work and raising compensation for top performers.
In a perfect world, millennials wouldn’t need encouragement to do their best. But in the real world, people get hooked on praise, and nothing motivates like more money. Don’t fight it, utilize it.
6. Nobody really loves their boss.
As the leader of your organization, you deserve your employees’ respect and you need their trust. Where many entrepreneurs go wrong, though, is coveting their employees’ love and admiration, too.
No matter how fun you make your workplace or how deeply you involve yourself in your millennial workers’ lives, the fact remains that nobody loves their boss. And nobody wants to.
Your millennial employees need a leader with vision who is smart, fair, and encouraging. What they don’t need is a hero. If you need more love in your life, devote more time and energy to developing friendships and family. If you try to turn your employees into a family, they’ll respect you less for it. Help your workers to love what they do, not love who they work for.
Learning to manage people effectively can sometimes take a career - some would say longer, when it comes to millennials. Even then, your employees probably won’t love you for it. But if you keep their interests in mind while running your business, they just might love to work for you. Isn’t that the kind of company where you’d like to work too?