This is a subject that always interests me, as the interpersonal dynamics of manager-employee relationships are an often neglected key to productivity.
In that spirit, here are four common – and preventable – reasons your millennials employees may be tuning you out.
Too much structure and not enough flexibility. There’s an abundance of research out there indicating how highly the current workforce values flexibility – in schedules, in hours, in workplaces, in methods of approaching work itself. This naturally runs counter to traditional command-and-control management that assumes a more structured style in terms of where and how works get done. (I have some personal insight into this conflict, being an older manager myself who was used to a more traditional, structured style.) But times change, and managers who are uncomfortable with the widespread desire for flexibility will increasingly find themselves bucking the tide… a salmon constantly swimming upstream.
You provide supervision, not coaching. Simply put, the best bosses aren’t bossy. Again, ample data suggests millennials respond far better to coaching techniques than to Old School authority. Veteran managers may be used to having their positional power unquestioned. But to the extent they can evolve their role into one that also provides more encouraging coaching techniques, they’ll likely be rewarded with employee responsiveness.
Lame communication. I always like today’s common use of the word “lame” in this context, suggesting something that’s just not as robust as it should be.Research shows millennials want and like feedback, but can be reluctant to ask for it. In one of my jobs I was friends with an HR exec who made a point of walking around and noting how frequently managers were communicating with employees. Her conclusion? There was way too much silence and not nearly enough communication… rarely a positive thing for manager-employee relationships.
“This is the way we’ve always done it here.” This message is one of my favorite business cliches (aka, the nine most dangerous words in business). It’s also a phrase guaranteed to persuade hardly anyone and frustrate almost everyone. Especially younger workers who are inclined to view operations with fresh eyes and energy – and look for new and better ways of doing things. As a management mindset, it’s a surefire brake on innovation.
One thing all of these morale-dampeners have is that they’re preventable. They require no advanced PhD-level skills – simply an openness to a more flexible, informal and personable way of viewing the management role. A shift that can lead to better rapport and ultimately productivity.