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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?

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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User Rank: Apprentice
3/22/2012 | 7:04:27 AM
re: 4 Rules For Managing Millenials In IT
And they call X gens the slackers - sheesh !
User Rank: Apprentice
3/20/2012 | 11:41:12 PM
re: 4 Rules For Managing Millenials In IT
Funny how people want to ignore them...they will become the next set of managers and guess what...they will run the show as they see it. Get ready, here they come. This behavior and attitude is largely due to new education models, conditioning, and virtual environments that have been introduced over the past 20 or so years. Look at large companies such as Facebook, Dream Works, and Disney. They all have adapted their corporate "culture" to incorporate the Millenial behavior into their productivity models. You should try some adaptive methods...but don't change your policies. Be open and receptive. These new workers have some pretty good ideas and we've implemented some of them with positive results.
User Rank: Strategist
3/20/2012 | 8:43:06 PM
re: 4 Rules For Managing Millenials In IT
So to 'manage' millineals, you give them what they want, let them ignore established rules and norms, and tell them they are good little boys and girls? Sounds like we're supplanting 'helicopter parents' with 'helicopter bosses.'
User Rank: Apprentice
3/20/2012 | 12:08:31 PM
re: 4 Rules For Managing Millenials In IT
Quite frankly I think this is the worst thing you can do for them with the exception of sending them to training. They don't know what they are doing and need to be put in there place, otherwise you will have security issues out the butt and horrible code to deal with in the future. Try it, it does work; speaking from experience with dealing with a large number of millenials every day.
User Rank: Apprentice
3/19/2012 | 7:19:01 PM
re: 4 Rules For Managing Millenials In IT
I'm glad you started with "...workplace rules for keeping your Millennial team members happy without having to bend over backwards." As I began reading, I was ready to note suggestions for how Millenials can get along with their non-Millenial managers but in general, I think I could live on either side of those rules.
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