CONDUCTING PERFORMANCE REVIEWS

4 Ways to Make the Most of Millennials

Millennials can be both energizing and challenging. Here Inc. columnists share how to keep them focused and productive.
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Hiring young people can add a breath of fresh air to a company.

They have objectivity and energy. But their lack of experience and their impatience can often disrupt their productivity and that of others. It's tough to understand in your twenties that some things just take time and that the biggest successes don't usually happen impulsively. But if you are just out of college, a three or four year project feels like a lifetime and it's hard to contain yourself. And I've noticed that the more talent a young employee has, the more impatient they seem to be.

Of course that impatience properly harnessed can help drive a project forward fast and furiously. You need that energy and drive to stay agile and competitive. As a leader it's your responsibility to help young employees gain perspective so they can relax a bit without losing their momentum and objectivity.

When I work with young people I make them find their own path to understanding. Rather than teaching by lecture, I prefer to give them projects and let them fail safely. They learn more from the failure and gain better understanding of cause and effect. This helps them approach new projects with a little more caution and attention to detail. It also helps them gain respect for us older folk who seem to easily accomplish those difficult tasks.

Here are additional insights from my Inc. colleagues.

1. Tell the truth.

I have found that in working with younger employees it is best to be brutally honest.  The more you tip toe around and tolerate a behavior or approach that isn't successful, the harder it is to course correct later. I hire many students from local colleges and their work with me is their first "real job".  They are used to receiving feedback and criticism from their instructors and their classmates on their work. I learned to build on that theme and find that it is better to be frank about what I like or don't like about their work or their work style.  They always appreciate and learn from the feedback. Eric Holtzclaw--Lean Forward

Want to read more from Eric? Click here.

2. Show them the big picture.

Millennials I've worked with have a real need to know the big picture and their place in it--to understand the larger purpose of their work. If you want them to be engaged and productive, make sure they know how they fit in to your organization's mission and goals. Beyond that they need to know that both they and their ideas are being taken seriously. That can be daunting--one very bright Millennial I know presented his employer with 40 suggestions, large and small, to improve how the company was run. The fact that there was no meaningful response is one reason he moved on from that job.  Minda Zetlin  - Start Me Up

Want to read more from Minda? Click here.

3. Give them space.

Having been raised with loads of positive reinforcement and a high tech gadget in each hand, Millennials can confuse and challenge their managers. Motivate and reassure them with verbal appreciation and offer some flexibility, as this generation usually doesn't do well with old-fashioned dress codes or punching the clock. But these smart, tech-savvy Gen Y'ers can feel more at home and produce excellent results when given the space to unleash their creativity and expertise. Give your young employees clear guidelines and details, then allow them some amount of freedom to dig in and spread their wings. Marla Tabaka--The Successful Soloist

Want to read more from Marla? Click here.

4. Partner the generations.

Unfortunately, Millennials, Gen-Xers, and other young employees often think that they have all the answers. While they may be able to run circles around their older colleagues when it comes to social media and the latest tech gadgets, they are missing one important thing: experience. The acquisition of experience comes with time, but you can accelerate the process by paring up your younger employees with mentors drawn from your management and executive ranks. Not only will your upstart employees gain vital perspective, your older employees will enjoy the shot of energy that comes from working with someone whose perspectives and approaches to problem solving are not yet set in concrete. Peter Economy--The Management Guy

Want to read more from Peter? Click here.

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IMAGE: Getty
Last updated: Mar 26, 2014

KEVIN DAUM | Columnist

An Inc. 500 entrepreneur with a more than $1 billion sales and marketing track record, Kevin Daum is the best-selling author of Video Marketing for Dummies and the executive producer of Amilya! on 77WABC New York. Sign up here and never miss out on Kevin's thoughts and humor.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.



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