According to a recent Gallup report, more than half of Millennials are looking for a new job. And that same report makes clear as employees of that generation don’t want bosses. They want coaches—people who can help them develop their abilities and contribute to meaningful work. That means Baby Boomer’s in leadership roles need to approach them differently than they might have wanted to be lead themselves. So besides realizing not all Millennials (just like Boomers) aren’t all the same, what should Baby Boomer’s do if they want to effectively recruit and retain and coach Millennial.
First, leaders must realize a paycheck alone won’t result in an engaged Millennial team member—or probably anyone else these days. Those employees also want to know how their work impacts the organization’s stakeholders—owners, customers, other employees and their communities. They want to know why and how fulfilling an organizational mission makes the world a better place—and how their working in that organization contributes to fulfilling that mission. There are endless possibilities for coaches to connect those concerns, including: how an employee’s work may allow the organization to be generous to community and non-profit organizations, or how their work might be helping make a safer, more reliable product that give its customer’s peace of mind. The key here is tying the individual’s work and their own sense of purpose with the organization’s mission.
Second, leaders have to get to know their Millennial team members as people, not as a monolithic generation. Gone are the days when a good pension and health insurance meant an employee stayed with the organization for a lifetime. Now, more than ever, leaders and managers must invest in building genuine relationships with their Millennial team members. If roughly 80%, as Gallup also indicates, of an employee’s sense of engagement (and thus, their productivity) comes from their relationship with a manager, then retaining productive employees means leaders must invest in understanding their Millennial employee’s goals and values, helping those team members to achieve their dreams and live out their values. In doing so, these leaders can begin to coach their teammates in the context of that understanding, creating more institutional goodwill and reducing turnover.
Finally, these leaders should know annual reviews alone are a poor means of helping their Millennial team members understand their value to the organization. Effective coaching is an ongoing and very personal process—the frequency and fervor must go beyond simply achieving tactical institutional goals. It is built on a clear understanding of the employee’s goals and purpose and how they can best develop their skills and abilities, and how to develop them. In sports, coaches show their players how to execute a skill. Then they allow those players to demonstrate those skills. Once they have observed that attempt, great coaches give prompt, constructive—and sometimes very straightforward—feedback in a relationship that is built on trust and mutual respect.
Baby Boomer leaders should know that coaching your Millennial employees is simple. It’s just not easy. It will require a commitment of time, understanding, and a willingness for these leaders to accept their inter-generational differences in communication styles and values.Which means these leaders will have to adjust their strategies and tactics if they want to recruit, retain, and develop the Millennial generation talent. Doing such things will, with time, become a clear differentiator to Millennials—and for Baby Boomer leaders and their organizations—creating an environment where people the get to come to work rather than have to come to work.