4 Rules For Managing Millenials In IT

Some IT leaders consider young IT workers to be high maintenance. Are they really fussy, or are you not paying attention to what makes them tick?

Cindy Waxer, Contributor

March 19, 2012

3 Min Read

Managing Millennials shouldn't feel as if you're juggling Faberge eggs. Sure, Millennials are known for requiring constant feedback, strong leadership, and plentiful praise from their IT managers. Voracious users of emerging technologies, they also expect employers to provide flexible hours and a long leash for telework arrangements.

In fact, a national study conducted by the Pew Research Center reveals that when respondents were asked if they sleep with their cellphones nearby, 83% percent of Millennials said they did, far more than their parents or grandparents.

But satisfying the workplace demands of today's 18- to 29-year-old IT professionals doesn't have to be burdensome. Just ask Ira S. Wolfe, president of Success Performance Solutions, and author of Geeks, Geezers, and Googlization: How to Manage the Convergence of the Wired, the Tired, and Technology. Wolfe offers these workplace rules for keeping your Millennial team members happy without having to bend over backwards.

[ Maybe it's not your staff--maybe it's you. See Are You A Bad IT Manager? ]

1. Grant instant access: Most Millennials want to feel as if they're contributing to an organization. The problem is many companies adhere to a lengthy onboarding process that can involve weeks of orientation and training. That's a mistake, according to Wolfe. "Millennials want to be involved in the organization right away," he warns. "Unfortunately, many times they're told they need to put in the necessary time before they can be a part of a company's culture. But the reality is most Millennials are on a mission--they're coming in and they want to start a career right away."

2. Lavish praise: Back in the day, you knew you were doing a good job if you still had one. But today's Millennials crave constant feedback and managerial input. "That's something many managers hate, especially IT managers," said Wolfe. "An older IT manager will tell you if you're doing something wrong. However, Millennials expect instant feedback. You don't have to overwhelm them but if they text you, you need to text them back. You need to be responsive and you need to give them feedback that they're doing a good job on a regular basis.''

3. Bestow freedom: Despite being slightly "high maintenance," Wolfe said Millennials' salary expectations are typically realistic and rarely fall out of whack with current job market trends. Instead, he said today's ''work-life balance generation'' prefer bonus packages with collaborative work arrangements, remote access to mobile networks, and the freedom to work outside the hours of 9-to-5. "Millennials' aspirations are different," said Wolfe. "They're much more aligned with work-life balance and working with other people."

4. Give back: All-expense paid training courses and Christmas bonuses can entice Millennials to stay on board. But nothing compares to offering today's 20-somethings the opportunity to give back to the community and engage in philanthropic endeavors. "Across the board, Millennials are more interested in the world--peace, community, helping people," said Wolfe. "There's a very high volunteerism rate and spirit of cooperation and collaboration."

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About the Author(s)

Cindy Waxer


Cindy Waxer is a Toronto-based freelance writer and content strategist who covers small business, technology, finance, and careers for publications including Technology Review, The Economist, TIME, Fortune Small Business, and CNNMoney.com.

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