How to be a Mentor to Your Millennial Recruits

Millennials Spelled Out in Scrabble TilesMillennials work differently than other generations. The way you onboard them, give them assignments, and hold them accountable needs to match how they work best if you want to get the best out of them.

Today’s post is from Matt Arnerich, from graduate jobs & internships specialists, Inspiring Interns.

One of the most important parts of leadership is making sure that all your staff are being managed properly, and a particularly difficult area of this is how to manage entry level recruits.

This could be one of the biggest problems facing older managers, as millennials are now the largest generation in the working population.

Many managers struggle to find a balance between using the same one size fits all policy that works on older recruits and being patronizing. This makes it difficult to communicate and engage with new recruits and ensure you get the most out of them.

The truth? We’re not that different. Much like generations before we’re concerned with job security, and working in a role where we feel challenged and for a company that we’re proud to represent.

Yes, there is a tendency for job-hopping, but many millennials entered into a stagnant job market and had to make compromises on their first role. Now, in a thriving and ever-changing world, opportunities are bound to come knocking, but mentor your recruits properly and you’re far more likely to keep the top talent that can help your company to grow.

Introduce two-way feedback systems.

One of the clear traits among many millennials is the importance placed on feedback. For most, this comes from the desire to grow, learn and improve and supplying your workforce with feedback should rarely be avoided.

Constructive criticism is generally well received and acted upon and so opening up regular reviews of performance and feedback sessions is a great way to keep your entry level recruits engaged and productive.

However, it is important that this feedback goes both ways. As a result of growing up in a different environment to generations before them, millennials have fresh perspective, ideas and knowledge that older generations don’t. Because of this, their feedback can often be invaluable to a business, offering technical or creative solutions that you might not have considered.

Encourage low-pressure employee feedback, creating an environment where no one is threatened to share ideas. Who knows, filtered through the experience of an older manager, one of these ideas could be key to your business success.

Work to deadlines, not schedules

Working to objectives, deadlines and tasks is much more effective for millennials than micro-managing their time. Especially fresh out of college, graduates will be well versed in the best way that they work, which may well be different from traditional productivity methods.

Try to be flexible over how and where they get the work done and instead focus on getting it done, in the right way, within the right time frame. Not only will this energize your workforce by giving them freedom and trust, but you’ll find that you could get a far more productive employee.

Of course this relies on setting and understanding realistic deadlines. If they’re not meeting them, then it might be time to manage their time more carefully, or look at re-evaluating the deadlines. If they’re getting them done, that’s the most important thing.

Educate them in face-to-face

Studies suggest that one of the main bugbears that employers have with young people is their dislike of that strange box shaped device on their desk the older people call a telephone.

Having grown up with emailing, texting and social media as the norm, millennials are used to being able to edit our responses, and for many, the idea of face-to-face or telephone communication doesn’t come too naturally.

Look to emphasize the importance of face-to-face communication and phone skills, and encourage networking wherever possible. Sometimes an in-at-the-deep-end approach can genuinely work here, with the realization that it’s nowhere near as frightening as it appears.

Having said that, don’t be afraid to show them the ropes. It’ll be beneficial for both your company and their burgeoning careers.

Give them the whole story

Growing up in an information led age, millennials are an inquisitive bunch and so delegating basic tasks without rhyme or reason is likely to leave you with an unmotivated young workforce.

Instead, try to give them the whole picture on why they’re doing these things and the wider implications of their work, as well as cluing them up on company strategy where appropriate.

This transparent approach has far more implications than just motivating your workforce. They’ll appreciate the information they’re taking on for their long term development and it’s likely to increase how far they ‘buy in’ to the company.

That two way feedback system may just come in handy too, as with all the information they’re now better placed to offer suggestions on improvements on strategy and process that you might not have thought of.

Focus on growth and training

Of course, money still matters to young people, but reports consistently show that it’s no longer top priority. After a strong work-life balance, many millennials are chiefly concerned with learning, developing and growing, to set them up for independence and success later on in their careers.

Schemes offering workers time in their work week to pursue personal projects, learning opportunities or something extracurricular that they think might benefit the business have had success at some of the biggest companies in the world. While it has reportedly now being shortened, Google’s famous 20% time brought the company huge products like Gmail and AdSense.

If you don’t want to go this far, make sure you give younger recruits some time with your experienced team, and the opportunity to learn from them, or consider putting them on a rotation so they are exposed to all different areas of the business.

After all, if you trust your company and management to retain them, training your young staff to be the best they can be should be a no-brainer.

– Matt Arnerich works as a content writer over at graduate recruitment agency Inspiring Interns. He writes advice for graduates looking to find graduate jobs in London, as well as for employers looking to hire graduates for the first time.

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Photo: Millennials by Elizabeth Hahn

2 Responses to “How to be a Mentor to Your Millennial Recruits”

  1. I saw a glaring omission from this post. Do not take people for granted of any generation and give them an opportunity to share in the rewards of the business as a whole. People of all ages are far more engaged when they have a stake in the future of the company.
    If you seriously want to attract and retain talented and hard working people, you will throw out the old school ways of employing people without giving them a stake in the operation. Otherwise, people of any age or generation will eventually decide they are better off where they are appreciated.

    • Mike Figliuolo says:

      I totally agree that people should feel appreciated but disagree that the only or best way to show that appreciation is equity. Equity is the most expensive form of financing for a company. Given the high turnover especially at younger ages, it’s not always the best compensation approach. Bonuses tied directly to company performance are great. Ownership, while in theory it sounds great, is really impractical and not necessarily in the best interests of the organization long-term.

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