I have a love-hate relationship with the word “millennial.” I love being a millennial for the positive connotations, but I hate the negative stereotypes that seem to come along with it.
Millennials are lazy, millennials all want to be winners (que the “participation trophy” jokes), the list goes on. I am not the stereotypical millennial. In fact, I don’t think most millennials fit the stereotype.
At the core of all millennials is a need to be different. Millennials have special skills that we can use to make organizations better.
Below are six things millennials want from their managers:
• Listen to my questions and answer them
I ask a lot of questions. I push people for more information. I do this because I want to improve efficiency and reduce errors. It can be annoying to answer my seemingly endless list of questions, but please be patient with me. Take the time to answer my emails and texts. If you ignore me, I’ll just keep asking. I’m a fast learner, so I probably won’t ask you the same question again.
• Be open to technology
I’m comfortable with technology, and efficiency is important to me (see above). It drives me crazy when my managers and colleagues refuse to use technology to make things better and streamline processes. Change is hard, and since you are patient with me, I’ll be patient with you. If I have an idea that involves implementing technology to better serve our customers, hear me out. You’ll be happy you did.
• Understand my motivation
What motivates me is not what motivates my parents (or even some of my Gen-X colleagues). Pay is important – I need to live after all – but I’m motivated by my passions, not money. I want to make a difference and have a positive – noticeable – impact wherever I work. When millennials are dedicated to something, we go all in, and if you give me the freedom and support to explore my passions in our work environment, the organization and our working relationship will benefit.
• Company culture matters to me
Millennials want to feel good about what we are doing – and we want to work with people who feel the same. We want to have a purpose. I get it – not all jobs are glamorous, but whatever business we are in, let’s love it – together. And if there are aspects we don’t love, bring me with you as you experience the ups and downs of our business. I want to see the good, the bad and the ugly. No need to sugarcoat things for me. But bottom line, a culture where employees and managers alike are passionate about what we do and feel good about our efforts is where I want to be.
• Treat me fairly
Times are tough, especially for small businesses and farms. But if you want our working relationship to last, you will do your best to provide a fair benefits package. Health insurance and paid time off might not be required for your business, but I can get these things somewhere else. However, I want to work for you (see above – I’m passionate about your business), so please do your best to provide benefits that are fair and commensurate with your competition. Turnover costs you money, so let’s just agree on a package we are both happy with, and I’ll be loyal to you.
• Invest in my training
Training – that thing we all know is important, but few managers actually have time to do. I am basically a clean slate, hungry to learn the ins and outs of our business. I am not a mind reader, and I ask a ton of questions (refer to my first point). You probably wish I would just “figure it out,” and in some cases, I will. But please, take some time to train me. Have structure to my training program. It doesn’t need to be fancy, but have a few outcomes in mind when we train together. Let me spend time with our other managers too (make sure to let them know about our training program in advance). Based on our training time, I’ll ask questions that will save you time and energy in the long run.
Hiring millennials doesn’t have to be something you do begrudgingly. I can help you exceed your goals if given the chance. Don’t fall victim to millennial stereotyping because we do make good employees.
As mystified (read frustrated) as you are by me and my motivations, I am equally puzzled by you. Let’s learn about each other together, respect our differences and win in our business.
The Dairy Strong Bloggers series is brought to you on behalf of the Dairy Strong Conference, Jan. 18-19 in Madison, Wisconsin. This event focuses on cutting-edge technology, cultural trends and the future of the dairy community. Learn more and register at the Dairy Strong website.
Jordan Simonson is an ag communications professional currently based in Ohio. He grew up on a dairy farm in Taylor, Wisconsin. Email Jordan Simonson.