Young team members can bring enthusiasm, fresh ideas, and a digital native's comfort with tech to your team. They might even have just graduated with highly coveted skills. But what they can't offer is long life and career experience.
This isn't their fault, obviously. It takes time and practice to get good at adulting (practice that many millennials with overprotected childhoods missed out on). The result though is that many bosses complain that their millennial hires, even if brilliant and promising, often lack basic competencies like managing their time, setting priorities, and making sound judgment calls.
Is the only possible response to tear out your hair in frustration as you wait for time to (hopefully) knock some sense into your young talent? Not according to an excerpt from a new book titled Not Everyone Gets A Trophy: How to Manage the Millennials by Bruce Tulgan that was recently excerpted on GigaOm.
Education beats frustration.
Don't just get annoyed when your new wunderkind walks in late every day or can't seem to turn in work on time, actively teach him or her how to self-manage. For instance, if your millennial hire is terribly at allocating his time, Tulgan says the solution isn't annoyance but more communication.
"When it comes to setting day-to-day priorities, teach Millennials how by setting priorities together with them. Let them know your thinking process. Walk through it with them: 'This is first priority because X. This is second priority because Y. This is low priority because Z.' Over time, you hope they learn," writes Tulgan.
He proposes a similar solution to your young employees' lack of judgment. "Teach Millennials to be strategic by using decision/action trees every step of the way. Teach them to think ahead and play out the likely sequence of moves and countermoves before making a move: 'If you take this decision or action, who is likely to respond, how, when, where, and why? What set of options will this create? What set of options will this cut off? How will it play out if you take this other decision/action instead?'" he says.
Millennials will be millennials.
While Tulgan is all for bosses actively shaping the behavior of their younger team members, he does remind seasoned office hands that it's easy to slip into old person crankiness. Helping millennials master the soft skills they need to thrive isn't the same thing as trying to entirely remold them in your image. That won't work.
"Remember that Millennials are used to multitasking--they've been doing their homework for years with an MP3 player in one ear and a cell phone buzzing text messages on the table. Just because it might be distracting to you doesn't mean it is distracting to them," he cautions, for instance. The bottom line seems to be millennials are different, and while coaching can nudge them to fit in better with your team, hiring young people is going to change how business gets done to some degree.
Do you agree with Tulgan that it's often worth teaching these sort of skills to young employees, or do you expect all your hires to have them already?