RSM South Africa

Working with Millennials

Youngsters of the Millennial generation (born between 1980 and 2000) have received bad press in the media with ‘experts’ detailing all that is wrong with this generation and how this will affect the future of business and leadership.

RSM’s brand promise, the power of being understood, extends beyond understanding our clients to understanding our employees. It has become essential to connect with them on a deep level so that the full potential of these employees can be leveraged, both for their own benefit and that of RSM as a whole.  As a training institution, we are in the front line and have the privilege of working with and training millennial generation employees.  This gives us the opportunity to learn how to interact with these employees and to figure out the best ways to develop them personally and professionally.

All preconceived shortcomings and expectations should be disregarded to give these employees a fair shot at their development and ultimate success. They don’t respond well to rigid, rules based work environments. In fact, this would be a key driver that would send them packing within a few months, leading to a high staff turnover, which is not ideal for any business. This is not to say that the rules should be thrown out of the window as they are crucial to the successful running of every business  and to ensure compliance in all respects. When Millennials don’t understand the ‘why’ behind a rule or procedure, they feel little motivation towards complying with it. 

I have had the pleasure of working with colleagues from the millennial generation over the past few years and have learnt a lot from them.

Let’s explore some of the tips and tricks that will help business leaders to connect with their millennial generation employees.

They are tech savvy:

Use these employees to lead new digital processes in the organisation or to test new software or applications. They are smart and sharp and more technically minded than those of the generations before them.

They have inquisitive minds:

They seem to have a keen mind for research and appear to have an ear to the ground when it comes to the latest news and trends. This definitely benefits a company that engages with its employees and encourages them to share their insights.

They are impatient:

These employees grew up only knowing instant gratification. As employees, this makes them eager to learn and to complete tasks as quickly as possible. This kind of drive can be very beneficial when it is nurtured and directed carefully. There are also many tasks that require careful planning and concentration, completion of which is drawn out and gratification very much delayed. These employees can be mentored through these tasks and processes quite easily, given a little effort from their leaders.

They thrive on mentorship and feedback:

Despite living in a world where the internet and related applications enable us to work and communicate in business without the need to meet face to face, these Millennials actually require one on one mentoring and continuous feedback. This adds a lot value because it actually increases staff morale, overall atmosphere at work and strengthens the relationships between millennials and other staff. When staff trust each other, they are generally willing to go above and beyond for each other and the company and task collaboration will be at its best. This has a huge impact on overall productivity, efficiency, client service and employee wellbeing.

The have good ideas:

When encouraged to, these employees share their initiatives and procedure improvements. They strive towards a goal in which they believe. They are very purpose-driven, which benefits any employer. Encouraging them to share their innovative ideas ensures that they will buy in to any procedure or process and add great value to its outcome.

It is important to remember that Millennials are the leaders of the future. It is therefore critical that the leaders of today spend the necessary time training and developing them so that they are ready to lead and run businesses when their time comes.  More importantly is the need to accept these employees, understand their thinking and be open minded when faced with challenges related to these employees. 

It is true that millennial employees need a lot of supervision. Leaving them to their own devices could be disastrous. The benefit here is that as we teach them, we grow ourselves. And as we build strong relationships with them, we bridge the gap between the leaders that are now and the leaders of the future, because as a team we build a lasting core value system that they in turn will pass on to the next generation.  We have an opportunity to change history, to challenge the traditional systems that worked for the generations before us, but perhaps may not suit future generations.

There is much to teach and much to learn when we collaborate with these unique individuals. Think outside the box. Don’t let the box define you.

Nicci Weymouth

Manager – Accounting Services, Durban

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