I hate to admit it but I've been really down on millennials. Like, REALLY down. I totally bought into all the reports I read complaining about them being whiny babies at the office. You need a participation award for showing up? Pa-lease.
That is until I met my friend Jenna down the hall at Vydia.
Vydia help artists monetize and distribute their visual content in one easy to use platform. They’re also our neighbor here in the coworking space at vi collaboration hub, which is located down a sunny hallway at Bell Works in Holmdel. (If you haven't been here yet, you need to stop by. The design and light of this building amaze me every day.)
But back to Jenna, who is the director of marketing at Vydia, and it seems like, their Chief Millennial Whisperer. A major component of her job is building teams of young workers and she has figured out the secret formula for tapping into the greatness within this generation.
Later this month she's leading a meet up at Bell entitled How to Attract, Motivate & Retain Millennials. Click here to learn more.
This week on the Bell Works blog she offers tips for those hiring millennials and the advice is refreshingly simple and practical.
Here's a nugget I especially like….
“If someone ever tries to say, ‘That’s not my job’ to a task they’ve been handed, you better believe we’re going to have a sidebar. If you were asked to do something, you’re the right person. Make sure to always lead by example too. When I set up team building events and the workshop is underway, I don’t make the intern’s pick up lunch and miss out on activities.
There’s plenty of tedious tasks for them to do, but don’t do it at the expense of their growth with the company. Set your expectations up front and reward the ones that work to exceed your standards. You’re only as strong as your weakest Millennial so make sure they’ve got a good attitude and good intentions on elevating your brand.”
But perhaps the best story Jenna has to tell is of her former intern as her previous company Yashi. She hired Lauren as an intern just a few years ago. Lauren quickly rose through the ranks and is now head of marketing at video production company Postcreatives in Asbury Park. Jenna saw what motivated Lauren and encouraged, challenged and rewarded her. And now she and Lauren are industry colleagues.
Is that any different than motivating gen xers? Nah, that's just good people management.
Jenna’s piece popped my eyes open to all the millennials I already work with. I didn't even realize they were millennials because they're always busy getting shit done. They're digital natives buzzing with new ideas and a great work ethic who can out multi task me. No whining in sight.
I think the key to dealing with millennials is to stop “dealing with them" as a lump generation and start treating them like individuals. Why do I even need to write this? It's straight up common sense. Maybe because there is always a low level disdain between the older generation and the younger. One feeling marginalized, one feeling disregarded, both feeling just a little smug at knowing everything.
Still there is something to be said about learning the nuances of what motivates the up and coming generation of workers. Is it wrong that they need to be “inspired” to work. Maybe if that means they’re not willing to do the tedious tasks that go with the job requirement. But if you’re dealing with someone who’s got big ideas and passion and you’re regularly giving out low level soul killing tasks, it’s your company that’s going to lose out. Isn’t that the storyline of a million movies? Boy wonder has big ideas, boss won’t give him a chance. I know I don’t want to be that cliche.
“I make sure that they have a well-balanced plate of responsibilities and that they understand the importance and impact of each project they work on,” Jenna said. “If you’re not giving them enough interesting responsibilities at work, you can guarantee they spend their days dreaming of their next job.”
I’m taking Jenna’s advice to heart as I search for new talent for my own agency. I’m thinking less, Who can build a spreadsheet for me?, and more, Who can help build the company?
To learn more about how to attract, manage and keep a dream team of millennials, join us at Bell Works on Nov. 30, 8 a.m. - 10 a.m. for a breakfast workshop featuring Jenna Gaudio. Cost is $9. Click here to register.
Photo by ITU Pictures