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Making sense of millennials

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in Leaders & Managers,Management Training

Cynical managers like to joke, "Supervising would be so easy--if it weren't for the employees." That's especially true for baby-boom bosses who oversee staffers born after 1977.

If you're over 40 and you supervise people under 30, stop pulling your hair out and start adjusting your attitude. It's normal to feel frustration. Younger workers developed in an entirely different world dominated by technological upheaval and often-indulgent parents. "Titles mean nothing to them," says Ross Shafer, a motivational speaker in Carlsbad, Calif. "They figure, 'I've been CEO of technology at my house for years," so they're used to seeing themselves as in charge." What's more, money isn't a big motivator to them. Sure, they care about their pay. Many of them face hefty school loans. But they place a higher priority on balancing work and personal time.

"What they care about more than money is feeling connected to something special," says Shafer, author of Remaining Relevant. "You can motivate them by nurturing a social network so that they bond with colleagues." For example, allow your under-30 staffers to band together to volunteer an hour a week during the workday. If they see that their job enables them to make a difference in the community while joining a team of equally passionate peers, you are more likely to retain them. Another key to manage what Shafer calls "millennials" is to evaluate their performance daily.

Shafer cites an information technology firm that develops specific metrics for each position. Almost all of its workers are under 30. Employees know what's expected of them everyday and they get measured on the extent to which they meet daily goals. "The company provides an online evaluation that's updated daily," he says. "It's like a leader board at a golf tournament. It creates tremendous competition, but it's not divisive."

To train younger workers, bypass the traditional half-day seminars. They grew up learning on the computer, so give them online tutorials and self-study modules.

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