As a business owner or department manager, the prospect of hiring and managing a team of Millennials may be a little dicey if you’re not familiar. Afterall, there are tons of negative ideas swirling around about Millennials: they’re lazy, entitled, and flighty.
The reality is that Millennials make up nearly HALF of our workforce and their innate methods of communication and non-confrontational nature tend to reflect poorly on them as a whole. You’ve heard the old anecdote of a few bad apples, right?
Well, the vast majority of the Millennial generation are, in fact, fantastic assets to your business...they just happen to communicate a little differently. In fact, Millennials made up nearly one-third of all entrepreneurs in the U.S. in 2014, having launched almost 160,000 startups, which proves that the problem is not with Millennials, but how we interact with them and leverage their talents.
So, how do you effectively manage workplace communication in the Millennial age?
Maintaining smooth inter-office communication is mission critical for ALL businesses, no matter what you’re selling or who your audience is; so it makes sense to get it down to a science for your entire workforce, including Millennials.
Here are five powerful tips to managing, and dare we say it, crushing workplace communication in the Millennial age:
Go Digital or Go Home
Millennials were born and raised in the digital age, and most of them had iPads before they could walk. So, when it comes to communicating with Millennials in the workplace, you’ve got to speak their language.
That’s where web and cloud-based business applications come in.
Super handy. Super Millennial.
The sheer number of tech-savvy Millennials joining the workforce every single day makes digital workflow and communication elements a MUST for any smart business. Luckily, there are tons of amazing applications and platforms out there to both leverage the Millennial tech-brain and the simplicity of automating business-critical processes.
- Boosts productivity.
- Promotes inclusion.
- Automates simple tasks and processes.
- Keeps everyone on the same page.
- Reduces margin for error.
You’ve probably heard the phrase “There’s an app for that.” Well, it isn’t an exaggeration. There’s an app for just about anything you can imagine, especially when it comes to streamlining your business and enhancing communications companywide.
Work with your team to select a few well-researched and pertinent applications that are geared toward making your lives easier and more productive at work.
For example; choose a specific app to automate each aspect of your business, and if there is an app that offers multi-functionality, jump on it.
Meetings - Zoom and Google Hangouts are fantastic ways to keep your entire team, remote or on-site, in the loop through real-time video conferencing.
Task Manager - Trello and Airtable are a couple of our favorite options to include every element of your production process without skipping a beat. They feature Kanban-style task boards that offer a truly visual element to managing projects from end to end.
Real-Time Team Chat - Slack and Bitrix24 both offer a slick real-time chat interface, but Bitrix24 is one of those elusive all-in-one apps that offers a boatload of other goodies like voice/video calling, task manager, and a built-in CRM. Check it out before your competitor does.
Visual Communication - CloudApp and Dropshare help streamline visual communication through simplified image sharing, annotations, and personalized video options. Plus, they each offer a wide range of integrations with popular apps, like the ones mentioned above.
Ensuring that your team has the right tools to do an amazing job each and every day also opens the door for large corporations to think about their future infrastructure and plan for the future of technology.
Encourage Disruptive Leadership
Millennials are getting older and transitioning into leadership roles more and more, but many businesses are not quite ready for their brand of leadership: brash, honest, and meaningful.
Contrary to popular belief, the Millennial generation is a generation of hardworking, deep thinking dreamers who genuinely want to find meaning and purpose in their profession, rather than merely using it as a means to an end.
To harness the true power of a Millennial leadership team, companies need to begin to understand the need for fluid change within the workplace to accommodate younger generations entering the workforce. This means changing the way we think to be more in line with finding the simplest, and the most effective route from Point A to Point B.
- Ensures that the internal processes are designed to receive young talent.
- Preps business contacts for leadership transition or changeover.
- Positive integration of time and money saving technology or processes.
- Unique outlook on market trends and business-as-usual.
Disruptive leadership and mindsets can help businesses overcome stagnant practices that have kept them chugging along, but not quite rising above for decades. The time to change is now!
How Do You Encourage Positive Disruptive Behavior Without It Getting Out of Hand?
The term “disruptive” may make a lot of professionals squirm, but it isn’t quite the dirty word that everyone thinks it is. But, how do you get there without going overboard?
The first, and most important, step is to encourage and be receptive of the question “Why?”
Millennials are genetically predispositioned to ask “Why” when something just doesn’t seem to make sense based on their experience and worldview. This is not because they are challenging authority, but because they genuinely want to understand why something is done the way it is.
For many businesses, the processes or methods are the same as they have been for decades, with no adjustments made to accommodate the changing market landscape, demographics, or technology. Millennials often see a smarter route to achieve the same goal, and it often results in less overhead and higher productivity rates.
So, let them ask Why and be receptive to changing to meet the needs of your customers and employees.
Something to always remember is that when Millennials are happy in their position and have the motivation and purpose to do great work every day, they empower the people around them to create ultra productive, profitable businesses. Help them channel their passion, and Millennials will help guide your company toward the future.
Let’s Get Visual
Millennials are an incredibly visual bunch.
Ok, let’s be honest; most Millennials communicate exclusively in GIFs and memes, so it’s safe to say that visual stimuli work for them.
In fact, they are often more productive when presented with a visual representation versus written instructions. Studies show that over 65% of the population are visual learners, and approximately 80% of people remember things they see or do, versus reading it or hearing it. So, let’s give them cake...errr...visual content!
Integrating both the capability and the acceptance of visually-oriented communication opens the door for simplified conversations across your entire organization.
- Saves time.
- Ensures that nothing gets lost in translation.
- Improves message retention and comprehension rates.
- Personalize the message.
- Guide task productivity with simple annotations.
- Protect sensitive data with expiring content parameters.
Use visual elements when pertinent and when words just can’t explain what you’re trying to accomplish.
How to Leverage Visual Elements In Your Workplace Communication?
Integrate a comprehensive visual productivity app or two, like CloudApp, into your overall communication strategy.
The CloudApp platform makes it incredibly easy for everyone on your team, Millennial or not, to simplify how they communicate. From personalized video in an email to annotated screenshots and GIFs sent directly to your Slack team, CloudApp has got the visual component of managing workplace communication down.
Many companies use CloudApps to streamline how they transmit visual information internally and provide detailed, annotated screenshots or personalized screencast videos to prospective customers.
Although visual is a fantastic way to engage your Millennial team members and often your customers, don’t use it as a crutch. Don’t just throw out memes and selfies willy-nilly, make sure that they make sense in context and that they get the job done. No one wants to receive a goofy GIF that isn’t relevant to what they were talking about or a question that they asked.
Let The Lines of Communication Flow Both Ways
Everyone has an opinion, and how your team is interacting with your communication strategy and processes may differ from your perceptions. Plus, let’s be honest, Millennials have more opinions than most and aren’t shy about voicing them.
Give them the chance to both give and get feedback on their performance by implementing an open door policy that does not stigmatize personnel for being unhappy or for desiring change.
- Promotes inclusion and respect.
- Improves overall productivity.
- Boosts team morale.
- Increases individual confidence levels.
- Channels Millennial energy and search for purpose.
Although Millennials are non-confrontational by nature, the idea of an open feedback process appeals to them. Most Millennials NEED to know where they stand and how to get better.
In fact, 82% of employees love getting feedback, regardless of the sentiment and companies that implement regular feedback programs see a 14.9% lower turnover rate.
How to Implement a Mutual Feedback Program
1. Make it CLEAR that giving and getting feedback is not a bad thing and is meant to help individuals and the business grow in the right direction.
2. Implement an open door policy within each department and with each Supervisor.
3. Focus on strengths and solutions, rather than weaknesses or problems.
This fosters a more constructive environment for feedback all the way around, whether the employee is giving or getting.
Draw Up A Battle Plan That Targets Millennial Work Ethic and Habits
Having a battle plan is always the perfect step to solving any issue before it happens or to remedy a failed process. Strategy is still a big part of running a successful business, no matter what you may have heard.
Developing and implementing a strong communication strategy will help you streamline and manage workplace communication for your entire team, not just Millennials. It is the essential guidebook for the who, what, where, when, and why of communication, both internally and externally.
A workplace communication strategy offers a framework for how to structure emails (and everything else), who answers what, and how to verify if communications are working correctly within your organization.
- Streamlines all communication, internal or otherwise.
- Ensures that your entire organization knows how to respond.
- Maintains compliance.
- Maintains top of mind awareness to avoid communication blunders.
Knowing how your business manages workplace communication is key to a healthy, thriving business. So, if you don’t have a communications strategy in place, get to work.
How Do You Go About Putting Together Said Communication Strategy?
1. To get started with your business communication strategy, first, you need to figure out WHY you need it.
Are you doing it because Brad in Accounting won’t stop referring to everyone as “Dude” in his emails?
Or, are you doing it because you’re losing revenue due to a lack of communication on certain aspects of your process?
The answer should probably be both, in this case. Good job, Brad.
2. Next, make sure to involve your ENTIRE team in the process to ensure that nothing gets missed and everyone’s input is heard.
3. Make sure that the strategy includes which productivity and communication apps your company prefers to use, and why you use them.
Where Do We Go From Here?
Millennials are a special breed, but they are as hardworking and dedicated as anyone else...you just need to make sure that you’re communicating on the same wavelength. If you follow this simple guide to managing workplace communication in the Millennial age, you’ll be right as rain in no time.
Do you have a favorite hack that improves communication in your workplace? We’d love to hear about it! Share your thoughts with us in the comments.