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Coaching Millennials In The Workplace

17/03/2017 12:57 GMT | Updated 17/03/2017 12:57 GMT
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Whilst our personal and professional lives are generally considered separate entities, they still intersect - especially when it comes to personal development. Professional and personal skills often work in tandem, and throughout our lives we have to nurture them both if we're going to be successful.

For millennials - that's young people born from 1982-2002 - this is especially important.

Understanding millennials

Millennials are a mixed bag of people, and there's plenty of differing opinions on what defines them.

As digital natives, some view them as the first 'victims' of social media and a world that provides instant gratification, leaving them prone to narcissism, anxiety, and low self-esteem. Whilst others view them as forward thinking, innovative, and extremely ambitious individuals - and perhaps that's a result of the digital age too. What isn't disputable, however, is that the workplace is changing because of them.

Millennials are climbing career ladders quickly, bringing with them 21st century ideas on authority, the working environment, and the industry they choose to work in. What's more, they don't just want to do a job: they want to make an impact on the world too.

Unlike everything else in their lives however, there isn't an app to make that happen right away. Consequently, this creates a working environment where young people can often feel anxious and stressed, no matter how strong their ability or potential may be. This is where coaching can really help.

What millennials need

One often-overlooked characteristic of millennials is their desire to receive feedback. Even in their personal lives, feedback via social media platforms such as Instagram or Facebook plays a huge part in striving for betterment, even if it's only on a superficial level. As discovered in a survey by Success Factor and Oxford Economics, this desire exists within the working environment too. The bottom line is millennials want to be coached at work.

Millennials want regular feedback from their managers. However, this shouldn't be mistaken for extra managerial direction (that's often unnecessary, since most millennials come with a 'can-do' attitude anyway) but rather, feedback on a more personal one-to-one level. For this reason, it's important that managers develop coaching skills of their own.

How managers manage millennials

It's vital for managers of millennials to create a working environment where they can learn, be challenged, and grow in the long-term.

But understanding how they differ to an older workforce is essential. Millennials need to be allowed to achieve short-term successes and enjoy the instant gratification they've become accustomed to in today's 'on-demand' world. And they need to be praised on a regular basis too. Just being told 'you did a fantastic job' can really amp up someone's motivation for the rest of the working week.

With their short attention spans, it's vital to allow - and positively encourage - multitasking. Millennials are used to it. They can watch TV, play online scrabble on their iPads, and tweet on their smart phones at the same time. Multitasking keeps millennial minds sharp and focused, and ultimately increases productivity.

Lastly, transparency is key. Being an open and approachable manager is vital. Rather than being just an authoritative figure, managers need to inspire those who look up to them with stories of their own failures and victories.

Calling in the professionals

Businesses are like living machines, and if each cog is happy and working to the best of its ability, then the whole thing runs much more smoothly. Organisations are recognising that coaching solidifies teams, boosts productivity, and helps a business grow as much as the individuals within it.

With the millennial generation now a key part of the workforce, it's vital organisations ensure all their managers are coached in the skills needed to effectively manage this group of ambitious, impatient, easily bored individuals who require praise and ongoing feedback. Recent and rapid advancements in technology mean this generation of workers have different expectations and needs.

By coaching those people who manage millennials - or by coaching millennials themselves - organisations can look forward to a workforce that not only feels valued, but is also more creative, more productive and more motivated.