Back to the Basics: Helping your Millennial staff thrive

A couple days ago I had a conversation with a woman who has employed a few Millennial interns and staff. She was more aware than most people I interact with of the variation among our generation, and was careful in her word choice and conversation not to convey a negative attitude.

The fact that she was talking with a Millennial may have something to do with it.

But a few intriguing comments were made in our conversation that I think are worth discussing further. 

First, she spoke of a current Millennial staff member as "not a normal Millennial". She quickly qualified this and even admitted she didn't mean to say it in the way it sounded (I promise I was not offended!), but I was intrigued! See, she has incredibly high regard for this member of her staff. And in continuing her explanation of how this staff member is different than other Millennials, the second intriguing bit came up.

Millennials don't have workplace common sense.

She didn't say this as bluntly as I just did, because she is kind and generous and gracious. But, in essence, that is basically what she meant.

Most Millennials she has worked with don't understand the basics of how to interact in an office, prioritize tasks, and accomplish what needs to be done well.

I don't disagree with her.

This is one of the biggest tragedies of our generation.

We are incredibly smart. Incredibly competent. Incredibly passionate. But we lack some of the basic skills need to convert all that into action.

So her cherished "not a normal Millennial" staff member is different because she knows how to get things done and operate in the office.

How do we help other Millennials follower her example? 

The first step is to recognize what the problems are. Do your younger staff struggle with decision making? Professionalism? Work ethic? Quality control? A mixture of everything?

Next, create a plan to help guide these staff members towards improvement. Is it as simple as being more specific about requirements? Do we need to add a step to the work process to ensure quality? Is more mentoring required?

Third, check in with these staff members to see if they can get on board with the plan. Or better yet, include them in the planning!