What do you know about the people you lead? If you know their name, job title/function, length of service, and whether or not they are a good contributor, you have already made some assumptions about them.
According to author Steve L. Robbins, “Many of us have difficulty understanding the actions of others because we evaluate those in terms of our own experience… We believe the shoes we are walking in are the other person’s shoes – but they are actually our own.” By making assumptions about others’ behaviors without checking out your assumptions to see if they are on target, you miss the opportunity to get to know who your emerging leaders really are and how you can best utilize their talents.
Gaining an understanding of generational differences can help you walk in the shoes of the multi-generations with whom you work. Here are eight quick tips for relating to Millennials based on what we know about what matters to them.
1. Tell them the truth.
2. Treat them as equals.
3. Acknowledge what they bring to the table.
4. Challenge and stretch their minds with a variety of assignments.
5. When you give an assignment, let them know why it is important and how it relates to the big picture.
6. Provide feedback regularly.
7. Trust that they can learn quickly and get the job done.
8. Be open to using emerging technology.
Most importantly, let Millennials know that you are listening. Demonstrate genuine interest and curiosity by asking questions. Give nonverbal cues to show you are really tuned in (head nods, short comments like, “I see..,” “Let me check this out with you to see if I understand what you mean…”). Be open to what you hear and suspend judgment.
When you are engaged in conversation with a Millennial ask yourself “whose shoes am I walking in?” Are you looking at the world through their eyes or are you stuck in your own shoe paradigm? Try to look at the world through their eyes and relate in ways that are relevant and meaningful to them.