Generation Y (the Millennials) is agitating the days and sometimes even the nights of the “Heads” of the companies that have to manage it! Let’s see together some ideas for leaders to help manage millennials…
Those who, like us, deal with managerial training are strongly involved in the phenomenon: at the beginning, during the People Management courses we spotted the first rounds of shy questions regarding the subject.
Progressively, we started to receive more and more requests from the companies to include a whole “chapter” on the management of Millennials in these courses.
Today, we find ourselves designing under request People Management courses with focused on Millennials or even specific courses on how to deal with the Millennial “issue”.
But who are the Millennials?
On the web we find an infinite number of definitions (sometimes very discordant with each other) to frame the Millennial generation, also called the Y generation.
Let’s try to clarify this generation without limiting so much its margins: we can consider Millennials all those born between the beginning of the 80s and the end of the 90s.
Why Millennials are shaking companies?
The struggle is real: Managers are often Baby Boomers (born between ’45 and the early ’60s) or Generation X (born between the early’ 60s and early ’80s) and could feel uncomfortable managing collaborators with very different values and motivational systems.
And it’s not just a managerial problem!
I believe it is, as always, a toxic mix, certainly composed of a good dose of managerial inadequacy, but also of work organization and organizational strategies that have fallen behind in the face of changing generational needs.
The famous generational gap that is so often brought to the table…
What will companies have to change to retain Millennials?
Many things such as work organization, times, places and tools will have to change in the near future.
Change is imminent and it will be driven by two powerful forces: Millennials who will become “those who decide” (AD & Co.) and the entry of the generation Z (born from the late 90s onwards).
In the meantime, I would like to give some advice to the leaders who are experiencing the problem today, between the anvil of the engagement of Millennial collaborators and the hammer of companies worried about turn-over and employability.
Millennials and the metaphor of video games
A few years ago I read an excellent book by Jane McGonigal – The reality in play (Apogeo), from which I freely took some ideas that I would like to share with you.
Jane is a psychologist who works in the videogames sector.
She deals with how to make the games so captivating and engaging that generate “difficulty in detaching” that each parent has observed (and stigmatized) in their children.
Among the common features that make a game “appealing” I have pinned the following:
- Clear Rules – it is clear who is a friend and who is an enemy, what I have to do, how many lives I have available and how many points it will give me to have won the sword.
- Continuous measurement – I always see my score and, if I play online, I see my score compared to the other players.
- Increasing difficulty – I am always at a level of difficulty compatible with my skills. When I increase my skills I go to a level that requires all the skills I have plus a small differential that keeps me in positive anxiety.
- I build a character – many of the most effective games in terms of engagement allow the construction of a character that grows in terms of ability and power with the achievement of predetermined objectives.
Are you wondering what is the relationship between these 4 characteristics and the motivation of a Millennial collaborator or are you already glimpsing the very powerful tips that can be obtained from the world of video games?
4 ideas to increase Millennial engagement in the company
Let’s not forget that Millennials have grown up using (and still use) video games!
And they look for the 4 characteristics that we have seen in all the activities of their adult life…
Someone once confessed to me that, after the 8/9 hours spent in an unclear context, in which you are not measured, in which you are probably bored because the first months of panic from high difficulty has passed and now you find yourself spending too much time doing predictable things… He couldn’t wait to immerse himself in the video game world to recover some motivation and adrenaline.
Let’s be practical, if as a boss I want to build an environment that attracts and retains Millennials, I have to work on building roles, thinking well about how to do it…
Millennial & Engagement: rule 1
Clearly define the rules of the game, what is to be done and what is not, what behaviors get me results and rewards and what behaviours, on the contrary, bring penalties.
Millennial & Engagement: rule 2
Based on the clear rules context, I have to think of an objective measurement system and a continuous feedback system.
The daily rating systems of some food delivery companies may seem like an aberration to us Seniors, but Millennials like them.
Millennial & Engagement: rule 3
Construct the paths with successive steps, with an increase in difficulties and time frames not estimated but connected with the results achieved objectively.
If after four months a Millennial tells us that he is able to face the Great Dragon because he has already defeated dozens of small ones and some medium ones, let them try!
Enough with ancient apprentice systems according to which only after a year of elementary apprenticeship I can think of facing my first dragon.
The world has changed, capacity too and technology… Go figure!
Worst case scenario, if this is not possible, at least let’s stop hindering its progenitor: job rotation.
Millennial & Engagement: rule 4
Above all try to invest in training, development, growth, certifications and licenses because the Millennial appreciates the companies that invest in them.
So are we sure that a Millennial will stay with us in the company?
No, they will go away after a few years anyway, but at least during their presence they will have helped us kill hundreds of dragons and not only polish two of our worst swords!
If we build roles of this type I am sure (from Millennial ante litteram) that in the end even some low performers on the threshold of pension could ask you to try to play and… could even recover the motivation lost in years of boring and ungaging activity!
Having to manage Millennials, I think there is no alternative to accepting Jane McGonigal’s suggestions and thinking about how to implement them in the company.
What do you think about it?