By Roshini Rajkumar, Special for USDR
Today’s business landscape faces communication challenges unlike any time before. Of the four to five generations currently present in the workforce, we’ll focus on three for our purposes – Baby Boomers, Generation X and Millennials. Leadership must understand how to reach each generation in an impactful way to inspire and excite employees. Failure to communicate with Millennials effectively can come at a hefty cost. Millennials are exceptionally driven and can be a strong asset to any company.
Millennials have many of the same professional characteristics as Baby Boomers. They are motivated to stay or leave a job based mostly on money and creativity. They have similar career goals, and Millennials are deeply interested in mastering the skills and gaining the experience necessary to assume leadership positions. Like Baby Boomers, Millennials have a strong preference for leaders who are fair and ethical, and have a real interest in their career development.
But that may be where the similarities end. Certainly in communication, Millennial workers have entirely different preferences and expectations for styles and modes of communicating. To avoid a culture clash and ineffectively communicating with any generation in your workforce, here are some tips for reaching Millennials. Where new or different methods of communicating are suggested, I recommend adding them in addition to the existing methods that work well for older generations, to avoid the appearance of favoritism.
- Gain trust with transparency. As I mentioned, Millennials value ethics and fairness in leaders and in their company. Millennials have witnessed a lot of corruption in the corporate world (e.g. Enron) and have grown up in a culture of corporate mistrust. Convey details promptly and clearly to keep everyone “in the know” and avoid unpleasant surprises.
- Win loyalty with generosity. Millennials care tremendously about charitable causes. An amazing 83% of Millennials donate to a non-profit cause within any given year, according to the Case Foundation. Giving can inspire Millennials to fullest productivity and passion. They want to feel as though they work for a company that’s committed to more than just profits.
- Be concise. Millennials consume content and communicate most on smartphones, where space is at a premium. Be direct and to the point, but don’t omit necessary detail. In the process, be careful not to “dumb down” what you say. Millennials are savvy and can sniff out condescension. They expect respect in their professional lives.
- Think outside the traditional work day. Millennials communicate anywhere, anytime, personally and professionally. They use technology that allows them to stay “connected” with work virtually around the clock. Therefore, many will work outside the “regular” business hours, and even beyond the boundaries of a regular work week. Be open to communication that occurs outside a 9-5, Monday-Friday cycle.
Roshini Rajkumar is a communication coach, media personality and author of Communicate That! Your Toolbox for Personal Presence.