Like a majority of companies doing business today, your workforce is potentially staffed with four different generations. From the Veterans of the greatest generation, to the Millennials, fresh to the world, there is quite a bit of diversity. However, within the next 10 years, 75% of your team will be comprised of Millennials. Learning how to communicate with and motivate this new brand of worker is well worth learning.
While many view Millennials as lazy, entitled kids who are addicted to their cell phones and tattoos, this is simply not true. They are committed to their causes, whether that be professionally, personally, or in their humanitarian work. Tapping into and understanding the Millennial passion and power only stands to make your company that much more powerful. But just how do you discover what makes these folks tick? How do you motivate them? Let's take a look at a few tips to help you motivate your younger workforce and, in turn, strengthen your team in the process.
1. Accept accountability, share the credit--No one likes to be blamed for a misstep, whether they were responsible or not. As the leader, you are responsible for your entire team, no matter what. When there are setbacks, finger pointing will get you nowhere. Accept accountability when things go wrong. However, be sure to spread the wealth when praise is handed out. Sharing the credit for your successes allows the members of your team to FEEL part of the team. And it is human nature to perk up, working a little harder, when given a compliment. So, not only will you build your team's trust and respect, you will also motivate them to work harder for you.
2. Align your team and the individual--Be sure to explain the vision and mission of the company and its projects. If you give them the big picture, it allows them to connect the dots, giving themselves and their team, meaning. Since the Millennial generation is one that seeks meaning behind all that they do, ensuring they realize their role in the ultimate goal will give them a sense of purpose and value. This purpose transforms directly into happiness and productivity.
3. Take interest in your employees--Your main goal as a facilities manager is to ensure your customers (employees) are happy and have the tools they need to learn, grow and produce. The only real way to accomplish this task is to get to know them. Remember that there is a unique personality within each of your employees. Get to know that individual and you will not only learn what motivates them, you will also, again, build a relationship built on trust and mutual understanding.
4. Communicate, look and listen--Communication is the foundation of every relationship, both personal and professional. Open up the line of communication by not only speaking with them, but also through listening. Listening is a true art, much more difficult than speaking. But there are so many things you can learn both from and about your teammates if you keep your eyes and ears open.
5. Empower Millennials and they’ll figure it out--The Millennial generation wants to know that they are a part of something bigger. Rather than just assigning them a planned project and deadline, allow them to be a part of the planning process. You are validating their abilities on the one hand and, by giving them a little more flexibility and "power", you provide them a sense of importance and belonging, as well as pride in their work.
6. Inspire creativity and courage follows--Encourage your Millennial team members to draw on the skills and resources they have acquired through experiences thus far. While they may not be as experienced as you yet, utilizing the skills they do have affords them the courage to explore arenas they are less experienced in.
7. Prioritize community service--The Pew Research Center conducted a survey in 2010 that yielded some very interesting results--Millennials place a higher importance on helping those in need (21%) over having a high-paying career (15%). Encourage your employees to get behind their causes, even using company time and resources. This will instill a faith and commitment towards the company that is invaluable.
8. Give encouragement and regular feedback--Many companies schedule annual or quarterly meetings to review their employees' accomplishments, strengths and weaknesses. But if this review is only conducted annually, how are your workers to know what they are doing right, and what they need to change? It is human nature to respond well to encouragement, and this generation is no different. They seek immediate feedback and want to be acknowledged when they do something right. While there is not enough time in your day to deal out words of encouragement every time something gets done, consistent, honest and supportive feedback from a supervisor can make all the difference in motivating your employees.
9. Use experiences over things--Companies often motivate their workers through incentive programs that award varying prizes, depending upon the successes. While a cooler or a gift card is a great prize, and
definitely solicits feelings of accomplishment, experiences would be a more memorable reward. Find out what your teammates desire to experience and listen to their wishes. Offer up a zip-lining prize or, depending upon the size of your organization, an exotic trip. We have a massage therapist that comes in once a quarter and helps relieve a little stress during the work date. It is amazing how motivated your workforce becomes by a simple gesture.
10. Offer more flexibility--Striking a solid work-life balance is very tricky. However, burnout from too much work significantly impacts your employees' health and productivity and, in turn, your bottom line. Additionally, the technologically driven society we now live in affords us a lot of leeway. We can work at the coffee shop, your favorite restaurant, or from home. This generation thrives on flexibility, even willing to sacrifice pay for the ability to work outside the office. Offer flexible scheduling, telecommuting or even unlimited time off (as long as goals are met, of course). By doing so, you fulfill their needs on multiple levels, as well as, hopefully, increase your company's overall productivity.
11. Provide education and professional development--Much of the Millennial generation is on a clear path to success. Anything that holds them back, will be dismissed from their lives. This includes their professional opportunities. They are driven and motivated to climb their way to the top, and recognize that the only way to get there is through continued education. Send your teammates on a conference or invite a guest speaker--invest in your Millennials' future and they will take an invested interest in you.
12. Bring out the passion-- Passion can be utilized as a valuable part of your toolbox. Every one of us is motivated to work harder when we are working on a project we are passionate about. Once you have found out what makes your employees tick, you can strive to assign them projects that they not only interested in, but passionate about. While it seems like a simple idea, the rewards will be abundant.
Millennials are the products of technological leaps and bounds which changed all of our worlds. Whereas they were born into this rapidly changing world, most FMs knew a world prior to the current landscape and are facing more than a few adjustments. Understanding, and using, your workforce will make these adjustments all the smoother.