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Matt Arnerich


How to Be a Mentor to Your Millennial Recruits

Tips from a successful Gen Y insider

Published: Wednesday, November 2, 2016 - 13:59

One of the most important roles for a leader is making sure that all your staff are being managed properly, and an area that can be particularly difficult is how to manage entry-level employees. This could be one of the biggest problems facing older managers, as Millennials (aka Generation Y) are now the largest generation in the working population.

Many managers struggle to find a balance between using the one-size-fits-all policy, which may work on older recruits, and being patronizing. This can make it difficult to communicate with young recruits.

The truth? Millennials are not that different. Much like generations before, Millennials are concerned with job security, working in a role where they feel challenged, and working for a company they’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 roles. Opportunities are bound to come knocking in this ever-changing world, so mentor your recruits properly, and you are far more likely to keep the those who can help your company grow.

Introduce two-way feedback systems

One clear trait among Millennials is the importance placed on feedback. For most, this comes from the desire to grow, learn, and improve. Supplying your workforce with feedback is not to be avoided. Opening up performance reviews and regular feedback sessions help entry-level workers to be engaged and productive.

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

Encourage low-pressure employee feedback; create an environment where no one feels 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 toward deadlines

Working toward objectives with deadlines is much more effective for Millennials than micromanaging their time. Especially fresh out of college, graduates will know the best way that they work, which may be different from traditional productivity methods.

Try to be flexible regarding 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 showing trust, you may also discover far more productive employees. Of course, this relies on understanding and setting realistic deadlines that are reevaluated if they aren’t being met.

Provide training for face-to-face communication

Studies suggest one of the main problems employers have with young people is their dislike of the box-shaped device on their desk called a telephone.

Having grown up with emailing, texting, and social media as the norm, Millennials are used to being able to edit their responses. For many, the idea of face-to-face or telephone communication doesn’t come 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, especially with the encouragement that it’s nowhere near as frightening as it appears. Don’t be afraid to show them the ropes. It will benefit your company and their burgeoning careers.

Give them the whole story

Growing up in an information-led age, Millennials are an inquisitive bunch. Delegating basic tasks without rhyme or reason is likely to leave you with unmotivated workers.

Provide the whole picture on why you appoint a task and include the wider implication of the work. Clue people in on company strategy where appropriate.

This transparent approach does far more than motivate your workforce. Millennials appreciate the information for their long-term development, and it’s likely to increase how far they buy in to the company.

A two-way feedback system puts younger workers in a better place to suggest ideas for process and strategy improvements 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. Many Millennials are chiefly concerned with learning, developing, and growing, to set them up for independence and success later on in their careers.

Some of the biggest companies in the world have had success offering workers time in their work week to pursue personal projects, and providing learning opportunities or something extracurricular that might benefit the business. Google’s famous 20-percent time brought the company huge products like Gmail and AdSense.

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

If you want to retain young recruits, then training them to be the best they can be is a no-brainer.

First published on the thoughtLEADERS blog.


About The Author

Matt Arnerich

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.