I just got back from Dallas where I attended the SISO Leadership Conference. I managed to speak with a number of ‘movers and shakers’ there, the bounty of which will find their way into a number of future newsletter articles. The first interesting subject is on Millennials by my good friend Lawrence Dvorchik. Here’s his summary of the panel he ran there. Enjoy!
Last week I had the pleasure of hosting a session at the Leadership conference for the Society for Independent Show Organizers (SISO) in Dallas, titled “The Millennial Mystery Machine: What they really want as employees, attendees and exhibitors”. I had the privilege of interviewing Amber Aziza, a well-known as a Millennial expert, speaking on topics such as Marketing to Millennials, Training Generation “Why”, Engaging Millennials, and producer of The Global Millennial Conference and well as Katie Brewer, a financial coach to millennials.
Here are some learnings from the session:
- You have about 32 seconds to catch a millennials attention online
- By 2025, 75% of our workforce will be Millennials. That’s only 10 years from now. However, in 10 years, what will the perspective of the Millennials be? I feel confident in saying their perspectives, needs and feelings will change.
- Treat Millennials like any other demographic. Segment within and you will see similar interests as other generations. For example, single at 30 is not the same as married with kids at 30. They are the same age but have different views on life. Don’t forget they are people too.
After the session, I took the opportunity to engage with attendees- most of whom were not millennials. Although they enjoyed the session, many had fundamental issues with the millennial generation as it related hiring and working with in three areas:
- Millennial Entitlement in the employment process
- Millennials Insistence on dictating their work environment
- Millennial Conflict with Existing Work Procedures, Expectations and Resources
I started to think about this more. Given that one of the goals of the session was to provide methods to directly address the paradigm change in the employment process and workplace environment, I felt that we left a few things unanswered during the session, and felt obligated to write this article to address the issues which weren’t addressed on stage.
I read more articles, blogs, and reports. I looked at statistics and projections and read opinions and commentaries. And what I found was this. Millennials are not that different than the rest us.
I am reminded of a lesson my father taught me early in my career when I was integrating several offices, cultures and styles to form a cohesive sales team It’s one that has enabled me to adapt over the years to very different leadership styles, corporate cultures and team makeups yet still maintain successful results. He said, “Others may go about doing things differently, but if they achieve (or exceed) your goals, in a morally and ethically positive manner, and they contribute positively to the growth of the company, why do they have to be a clone of you?” Yes, it’s your company. Yes, you need to set the tone and culture how you want it to be. And no, not everybody has to accept that. They don’t have to come to work for you. However, that is no different than any other applicant, regardless of their generation.
Here’s how to be successful in hiring Millennials in spite of the negative media hype Millennials are getting:
- Ignore the hype: Millennials are unique individuals. They are people too. Treat them that way and expect the same results of them as you would any other employee.
- Remember Your Youth: Remember when you were 18? I know I thought I knew it all, didn’t you? Allow them the chance to succeed, even if they do it in a different way then you might.
- Make sure you are looking for candidates in the right places: Now that there are college level degrees in event management offered in many schools, perhaps sourcing candidates from these and other such areas will make your success rates much better than just random hiring. In addition, you can partner with schools to do internships or part time work so you can evaluate millennials and they can see if the environment is for them.
- Mentor them: This generation was brought up in the belief that you “Pay-It-Forward”. They want to learn from you. They WANT to improve. Embrace it and you might just be surprised at what they can do.
- Offer Recognition: Millennials crave recognition, but not just awards. They also crave feedback.
- Don’t forget the power of technology: They were brought up with a device in their hands. They use them for everything. To get online, to text, but also for note taking, researching, and yes, social networking. But some of that social networking might just be for work, and might just be terrific promotion for you. Set boundaries but also understand before you ban.
- Offer Soft Skills Training: Make it mandatory, but make it a fun experience. Focus on things like improving their eye-to-eye contact and in-person communication skills. Remember, millennials want to improve. They want to embrace your programs.
- Communicate your Expectations Clearly – and Upfront: Millennials can be good learners, so give them the chance to succeed. Set measurable deadlines that provide you with the knowledge of whether they can do the job, and whether they are a fit – and whether you want to invest further in their training or part ways before you invest too deeply.
Be fair. Be clear. Set goals and boundaries. In other words, do as you have always done. But remember, Millennials often look at things through a different lens. Many view cause, culture and coaching as the most important aspect of their employment opportunities. While that may have always existed, this generation tends to place these values higher up than previous generations. Ignore the hype and make it possible for this generation to succeed in your company. You’ll be glad you did.