On the eve of the World Cup, NPR aired a story covering a study of the diverse playing styles on elite soccer teams. There are problem-solving players, impulsive players, and many other styles on every team. Diversity as a key to business success is my core message, so of course I wasn't surprised that the study found that teams with an ideal mix of all the playing styles scored more goals than less diverse teams.

The exact same concept applies to organizations that are looking for ways to diversify their resources. This time of year, you may not need to look any further than your newest employees -- the new grads and summer interns. Here are six strategies for hiring and managing Millennials.

1. Include both macro and micro approaches.

When you're managing your entire team, connecting on a macro level is perfect -- conveying one clear message is important. But connecting to each individual on the team takes a more nuanced approach. No matter their age or generation, each individual's analytical, structural, social, and conceptual thinking preferences, and their levels of expressiveness, assertiveness and flexibility, will dictate the best way to motivate and initiate action. Get a feel for this in small group settings or one-on one-meetings.

2. Avoid stereotyping.

The young people have been pegged as Millennials, a moniker that seems likely to stick, but like any other generation, the Millennial generation is made up of an infinite combination of thinking and behavioral attributes. They may like flexibility in their jobs; want to know where they stand with their boss; and want to understand their opportunities for advancement. Let he who does not also want these things in a job cast the first stone.

3. Take advantage of their tech skills.

By all means, take advantage of that tech savvy the young people bring to the table. I know…stereotyping! But being born in the 1990s means the internet has always existed, floppy disks never have. If you can count on them to eliminate the time wasted fiddling around before meetings with projectors, faulty connections and the like, the hire is already worth it.

4. Utilize their unique skills.

That tech savvy is more a product of the generation than an indicator of thinking or behavioral preference. But it's those preferences that offer the key to how that person fits within the organization; how he or she can be best utilized. Does she come up with ideas, or take ideas and run with them? Does he prefer to lead a team, or would he rather do the work alone and report out? Once you figure that out, plug them in and go.

5. Be proactive fighting turnover.

About 60 percent of Millennials change jobs within three years. Turnover is expensive ($15,000 - $25,000 per case) so be proactive in making sure your new employees are happy and fulfilled. You shouldn't have to bend over backwards to do that; just establish and maintain a dialogue with each individual, tailored to her own preference. A socially inclined team member may appreciate the "How's it going? Everything OK?" every week, whereas others may not. A structurally inclined person will want to know the detailed route and check in at every milepost, which a conceptual person may just need validation of ideas. The point is, the better you understand the person, the more likely they'll be to hang around and grow with your organization.  

Those new grads and summer interns will never forget their first real world job or their first boss, so make sure their experience is meaningful. The better you know the person, the better you will connect, the better guidance you will be able to give to a career that's just getting off the ground.

Published on: Jun 25, 2014