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Hunters or Gatherers? How to Build a Welcoming Work Environment for Millennial Hires And, by the way, which type are you?

By Mike Mirshahzadeh Edited by Dan Bova

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


The influx of millennial professionals into the workforce is already impacting the structure of hiring and management for recruiters and HR directors across multiple industries. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that by the end of this year, millennials will become the majority age group within the workforce. And by 2030 this segment will comprise approximately 75 percent of the working population.

Related: 3 Ways to Create the Company Culture You Want

In other words, "young blood" is now rampant, and the creation of a corporate structure to support and foster their diverse personalities and affinities should be a top-of-mind initiative for managers and company heads alike.

I myself came up in the dog-eat-dog, traditional work environment of the mortgage/financial industry. It was a background common to the older generation: boomer-led, corporate. So, when the millenials arrived, my initial encounters with those multidimensional employee prospects left me stumped as how best to manage what I saw as a split demographic.

I eventually developed the following strategy.

The 'Hunter' and the 'Gatherer,' defined

First, some definitions. Imagine, on one side of the aisle, "Hunters," or individuals still motivated by the "chase" -- scrappy in their approach, but eager to make a splash, no matter what the odds. On the other side are the "Gatherers," motivated by consistent praise from management, cautious about taking risks without assurance of reward and focused on their impact within the community as much as their impact in the office.

To create an environment complementary to each group, despite the time-honored traditions of "sink or swim," I developed for our mortgage bank company two customized onboarding programs to promote corporate assimilation.

I believe that those programs deserve credit for our company's nearly 90 percent retention rate of employees hired last year. The programs involve month-long initiations, referred to as the "Junior Recruiter Program" and the "Junior Wholesale Program." Both are designed to ease professionals into the industry and company without pressure to meet immediate quotas.

They differ,however, in that they are crafted to suit the Hunters' and Gatherers' unique traits.

Related: 4 Tips to Hiring The Right Candidate

Indeed, these two groups integrate into a company and industry in two very different ways; therefore, any kind of introduction training that will apply to both sets has the potential to develop a balanced workforce.

How you can build your own

  • Hunters want challenge; Gatherers want connection.

Within the program, Hunters are given challenges immediately, but at a rate slower than the one that will be expected of them after the first month. We impose only limited restrictions, instead focusing on building confidence through constructive criticism. Gatherers, meanwhile, are given opportunities to build self-confidence through tasks with less pressure.

Rather than assign both personality types, for instance, to lead generation through cold calling, we dedicate more hands-on time to soft introductions to the departments and to the personalities within them. We work to help these new workers understand the depth of the job, and to determine whether not only the company, but the industry itself, is truly right for them.

  • Understand how they fail and how to pick them back up.

The naturally aggressive nature of Hunters causes them to succeed and fail in the most epic of ways. I consider myself a Hunter, because after years of failing miserably, I discovered that the downs create just as much, if not more, motivation as do the successes, to pick myself back up.

Hunters want to win; therefore if your structure is designed to motivate them to forget the downs and focus on their next win, they will almost always turn things around.

In contrast, when Gatherers experience a setback, they need to be reminded that those within the company still support their hard work. They are best reminded of their past successes, and assured that their efforts matter to the company, despite any failure to close a deal.

I don't see this as coddling, so much as building confidence. Let a Gatherer personality hear that he or she has a team of people and resources there to turn around any setback.

  • Place equal value on Hunters' and Gathers' respective professional goals.

It's easy for management to get caught up in the numbers, and boil success down to spreadsheet margins and numbers. But that won't motivate either personality type because it means nothing to them personally. The millennial generation craves connection, but each side of the spectrum responds differently.

Hunters value their personal accomplishments. In other words, they still love to feed their own egos. They don't necessarily strive to work for a well-recognized brand name; instead, they want the satisfaction of their efforts to be what builds the brand up. Their solo accomplishments feed the team; the team feeds the company. It's not that Hunters are self-centered, it's that they need the most direct line they can get to impact the growth and success of the company and feel accomplishment through their work.

Gatherers strive to constantly collect knowledge, process that knowledge and know what to do with it on the other end to feel successful. They value carefully organized approaches to problems and tasks, and want to reach the end with a team at their side.

They are the ones that might consider leaving a job to return to graduate school, take a lower-paying position that is more personally fulfilling or transfer to a more recognized, established company. Sometimes, you have to let them walk away and follow their own path, but many times if one of these individuals is of particular value to your company, discovering ways to help that individual reach fulfillment of that caliber within your company will not only keep him or her around, but also highly motivated and engaged.

Gatherers, in fact, are incredibly valuable in the workplace for their thoughtfulness and analytical thought processes, and they can help their colleagues -- the fast-paced Hunters of the company -- slow down enough to apply a methodical touch to their problem-solving mechanisms.

Hunters, on the other hand, naturally take initiative and don't hesitate to jump head-first into their next challenge as soon as the last one has been completed.

Both types are essential. And both types complement the other. That's why giving both sides of this "personality coin" opportunity to grow professionally requires a two-pronged approach that will eventually lead your company to a better balanced, more successful workforce.

Related: 4 Creative Tactics to Find and Recruit the Best Talent

Mike Mirshahzadeh

Founder and Executive Vice President, Endeavor America

Mike Mirshahzadeh is co-founder of Endeavor America Loan Services, a national wholesale and correspondent mortgage bank. He co-founded the company with his brother Darius and Ali Vafai.  

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