Since part one of “Managing Millennials as a Millennial,” a lot has changed for the better. I have gained more valuable experience just from simply being a manager for a team, which now includes nine analysts.
We have taken steps to make changes at the management level to help us hold everyone within the organization accountable. From that, we are able to spark conversations based on outlined tasks to help identify strengths and weakness that move people forward.
These last few months of experiences have truly helped shape me into a better manager for my team by putting new perspectives on how I can better manage a culture fit for millennials.
Keep the Education Coming
My Experience: My first year with the company was a whirlwind of educational experiences that shaped my passion for continuous education and training. Traveling to HeroConf only 6 months into the industry blew open the door for me of understanding how much information and education is out there and just for a small part of digital marketing. I began to grasp the absolute need to not only taking the initiative to read and absorb as much information as possible, but knowledge sharing with peers to learn from others’ experiences.
While this may sound strange, one of my most educational experiences to-date was when my boss flew me out to visit another digital marketing agency. Through that experience, I came to understand that the issues I was facing were not unique and that solutions were out there. I learned how to create and shape a successful training program so that new hires at our own company could start out on the right foot to success.
My Tactic: While we are still sending team members out to HeroConf each year, I strive to make each week a learning opportunity for the team. We do that by promoting team collaboration and knowledge sharing through our internal communication platform on top of bi-weekly, all-team brainstorm meetings. By providing prompted questions about new strategies and tests, we encourage people to learn from one another and never stop asking questions.
I stress to the team often that if they want training in a specific skill set, such as Advanced Excel, to go find it and bring it to me to push for approval. While I am fully capable of doing research on general training programs, I will never have a full understanding of what each team member specifically wants out of a specific program. By putting the responsibility on the analyst, we save time going back and forth since they are able to find the resource that provides exactly what they are looking for much quicker.
My Experience: Having a measuring stick that I was able to measure myself up to was always more motivating than hearing the nebulous, “I feel like you are doing a great job.” By having benchmarks and confirmed expectations, I knew when I was excelling or when I needed to kick it into high gear to improve. The times I felt I didn’t have a grasp on what was expected of me, it caused unnecessary stress and fear of failure since I didn’t know what it looked like.
My Tactic: Over the last few months as a management team, we have been making some internal changes to allow us to create the measuring sticks to hold everyone accountable within their position. We have been shifting to using the “Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business” model for our accountability chart and the task relevant maturity model from “High Octane Management” to take the next big step in holding everyone accountable.
Focus on the Outputs
My Experience: My main motivator has always been that I just want to do a good job and will do whatever I feel it takes to produce great work. However, the time in which I do this work and the way in which I do it can be all over the place. I am most productive first thing in the morning and slowly trail off throughout the day, so by 5pm I can’t function. Discovering the times that work best for me to create my best work has helped me better manage my time overall.
My Tactic: Everyone has their ways of working, and I encourage everyone on my team to figure those ways out. What works best for me in no way works best for everyone. Especially for new hires – I always give them the speech on time management explaining that you have to what works best for you. Ask everyone else what has worked for them, then take those methods for a spin. Having a flexible start and end time has made it possible for all team members to discover when they work best to provide the best outputs.
Prioritize Work + Life Balance
My Experience: When I tell people why I love working here, the number one surprise is always around the use of terms family and friends. Through all of our fun budget group activities, pot lucks, and lunches together, I have developed friendships with the people who happen to also be my colleagues. I genuinely enjoy sharing stories of our weekends and future plans together. Plus, who doesn’t love unlimited vacation?
My Tactic: Each month, our team is budgeted a “fun budget” which can be used for team bonding events. While I try to come up with different ideas for the events, I leave it up to the team to decide what we will do together. From gingerbread house building competitions to the local Escape Room, we take bonding outside the doors of the office with things they want to do.
When we say we have unlimited vacation, we mean it. I push my employees to take at least 10 days off, whether they are spending that with their family or going on a trip to Europe. I always want my team members to feel comfortable taking time away from the office because I trust they will always get their work done.
Help Them Get to Know Their City
My Experience: When I moved to Richmond, it was only my third time visiting the city. Prior to interviewing here, I knew nothing about the city I was about to move to. One of the best ways I was able to get to know the city was not only through team bonding events but volunteering. Each year, the entire company participates in HandsOn Day in Richmond where we volunteer time on a Saturday to help local charities. It was a great way to see new parts of Richmond and bond together as a team for the greater good of our community.
My Tactic: I can’t take credit for this tactic, though it is a new policy I am extremely proud to say my company offers. We are now allowing employees to volunteer eight hours a month during office hours on Fridays, to the charity of their choice. This is something I highly encourage every member of my team to take advantage of in order to give back to the community and be proud of the city they help build.
It is true, the millennial workforce has a tendency to bounce around companies, but I would argue that it doesn’t have to stay this way. What we need is a shift in understanding from the management level that this generation requires a new set of tactics to keep them engaged. While I offer only a small set of ideas on what works for me, I encourage others to share their thoughts and tactics below to make the millennial workforce great again.