It’s no secret that there’s a perceived divide between each generation’s work styles. Knowing how to best acclimate each within your firm can be difficult, especially if a large age gap exists between your senior management and less experienced employees.
A hot button issue within this context is how to bridge the gap with the latest workforce addition—millennials.
It’s reported that millennials make up approximately 35% of America’s labor force. Immersed in technology from a young age and now well into adulthood, this generation can contribute a great deal to a firm that’s willing to tap into their potential and specialized knowledge.
So how can you seamlessly lead and help millennials become an engaged part of your team?
Start by using these 3 strategies, which are based upon Gallup’s report entitled, How Millennials Want to Work and Live, which you can download here.
- Be a Coach, not a Manager
Getting a young, talented attorney in the door means very little if you’re unable to retain them. Millennials expect their manager to do more than just manage—they expect them to coach.
Studies have shown that this younger generation perceives their work as an extension of their lifestyle more than other generations, so to foster growth and development in the workplace with them:
- Help millennials understand their individual role in your firm by clearly laying out their responsibilities
- Be specific as to what you will expect of them in terms of hours and work product
- Help them set personal goals—both in the short- and long-term
- Define your firm’s work culture, so they won’t have difficulty understanding how to fit in
- Building them up with praise rather than tearing them down by pointing out mistakes, failures or shortcomings
- Encourage Engagement, Communication and Meaningful Feedback
Studies show 44% of millennials who describe themselves as “engaged” at work also report that they participate in regular meetings with their manager.
The key here is not only consistency, but also quality.
According to the Gallup report:
- 61% of millennials say they meet with their manager regularly
- Only 19% reported receiving routine feedback
- 17% reported receiving meaningful feedback
- 15% routinely ask management for feedback
Formal weekly or bi-weekly meetings will allow your young attorneys to share their development and progress on assigned tasks, as well as provide you the opportunity to give constructive criticism.
Keep in mind, meetings do not always need to be a formal. A quick call, text, or e-mail will suffice, as long as you maintain a clear channel of communication and engage in a meaningful manner.
Gallup, in conjunction with data from CliftonStrengths assessments, found that millennials’ collectively have high responsibility and achiever scores.
What does this mean?
Most millennials will feel an innate sense of ownership of their work and strive to see tasks through to completion.
You can capitalize on this by putting them in charge of specific projects where they can receive accolades for their individual efforts, complimenting them on well-performed tasks they achieved as a member of a group, as well as acknowledging completed projects—have a happy hour, reward them with time off, or merely express your gratification for their efforts.
Always be mindful of work overload. Help them by prioritizing tasks and avoiding “burn out.”
The Big Picture
Helping each generation within your firm become an active member of the team will help better serve you and your clients. By bridging the gap, you bring diversity into your practice that can lead to growth, innovation, productivity and, an overall a happier, more inclusive workplace.