How to manage millennials and all of your other age groups
ball-game entirely. They grew up playing with their parent’s mobile phones and tablets. Most weekends I take my teenage nephews out of boarding school and go for a pizza. Let me tell you, every Saturday is a fun learning day. For us as employers, should we concern ourselves with these differences? And if so, how do we handle these differences? For any relationship to succeed, good communication is essential. Whether that’s in life or in business, between employer and employee, the same rule applies. The word ‘communication’ is far reaching and has lots of interpretations, forms and channels. But in communicating with others, expectations have to be made clear. Then it’s up to the other party to choose to meet them, or not.
Selfridges is a large, Uk-based retailer with about 6,000 employees from over 100 different nationalities. You can just imagine the diverse mix of age, race, faith, skin colour, gender and sexual orientation. With such an eclectic mix of backgrounds, their heritage, values, behaviours and expectations vary dramatically.
Nevertheless, in monthly management induction for new managers, I would always say, “we respect your culture and your background, but in the Selfridges culture, this is what is expected”. Now that doesn’t mean that it was a one-way street. As a modern business, Selfridges has adapted its management style and culture to reflect best practices for employee relations. But expectations were set and made clear from the start. Here is a common denominator that has not changed through the generations. These pointers are built on a platform of open communications and having reasonable expectations fulfilled. ÷ 1. Tell me what you expect of me. The role guide (job description) and contract is the basis for clarifying roles and expecta- tions. But don’t just hand over a document — go through it and explain in detail what is meant by it. And it doesn’t stop there. Over time, as the business needs change, continued and open dialogue is essential. ÷ 2. Give me the opportunity and resources to perform. Having agreed expectations, give the employee both the correct tools and the opportunity to do the job. If there are obstacles in their way preventing them from succeeding, then support them in removing them. ÷ 3. Give me guidance when I need it. If the job entails new knowledge or skills, arrange for appropriate training or coaching to speed up the learning and confidence levels. ÷ 4. Give me feedback on my efforts. As the employee is going about their duties, let them know how they’re doing, good or bad. This is particularly relevant for when they’re learning. But a seasoned employee will also want to hear that too, if only now and then. ÷ 5. Reward me for my contribution. This is not just about money. It’s about recognition and appreciation for effort and a job well done. If you dare say to yourself, “sure they’re being paid to do it” then you’re definitely thinking like the grandparent of a baby-boomer! As leaders and managers, if we want to get the most from our people, we should look at ourselves first. A new style of management is not just a phenomenon that applies to millennials. It is entirely appropriate that we adapt how we think, how we act, and what resources we use in our interactions. Use of apps and social media show you to be a modern company and will help to attract some younger talent. But it doesn’t stop there. You also need to focus on the basics listed here to retain your best people, regardless of their age. Alan O’neill, author of is managing director of Kara Change Management, specialists in strategy, culture and people development. Go to www.kara.ie if you’d like help with your business