Managing Millennials by making them part of the solution

Wendy was the manager of a team of almost all Millennials. She wanted to put together training around how to handle unhappy customers.   Her original idea was to share common scenarios and give her team specific ideas on how to handle each scenario.

But then she had another idea.

She gathered her team and asked them to share common scenarios where they had to deal with difficult customers. She then had the team brainstorm ideas on how to handle each scenario. The result? She said it was one of the most effective trainings she had ever conducted. She pointed out that many of her team members came up with ideas she hadn’t even thought of. She did share some of her own ideas and made sure they covered situations she considered important.   So the training was a win/win.

If you want to engage Millennials, make them come up with solutions.

Jeff came in one morning to find his restaurant alarm had not been set the night before.   He confronted the Millennial manager who was in charge that night.   This manger was normally responsible, but this was a serious mistake. Jeff wanted to say, “Do I have to come down here every night to make sure the alarm is set?”   But he knew that wasn’t a viable solution, or one he wanted to implement.

Instead, Jeff shared the severity of the mistake, “This is a mistake that can get you fired.” But then Jeff asked the manger to come up with a solution or system to make sure the alarm was set every night. His Millennial manger took this to heart, took responsibility, and came up with a two -person system to guarantee the alarm was set every night.

If you want to engage Millennials, make them accountable.

When credit union call center employees were asked where they got some of their best ideas on how to talk to customers, they often say it is by listening to their peers.

If you want to engage Millennials, provide a forum for them to learn from each other.  

You have a contest to see which front line employees can generate the most referrals.   You award a prize to the employee who has the highest number.   But you’ve missed an incredible opportunity.   Shadow and observe the contest winner. Pay attention to things he or she does that drive his or her success.   Most “sales people” aren’t totally aware of the actions that drive their success. But by observing their process, you can gain valuable insight.

If you want to engage Millennials, observe the most successful ones and look for repeatable behaviors that everyone can learn from.

Yes, some Millennials come in with a know-it-all attitude.   Instead of resenting that, use it to your advantage. The top down, “we have all the answers and you must learn from us” management style isn’t the viable option it once was.   You don’t have to have all of the answers. Help your employees take ownership and accountability. Make them part of the solution.

Holly Buchanan

Holly Buchanan

Holly Buchanan is the author of Selling Financial Services to Women – What Men Need to Know and Even Women Will Be Surprised to Learn. She is the co-author of The ... Web: Details