How to Coach Millennials for Mutually Assured Success

Millennials have officially taken over the workforce as the largest generational group according to the Pew Research Center, and employers are struggling to adjust to a group that clearly has different preferences and needs from the management team. A recent study by the Harvard Business Review (HBR) revealed that positive coaching may be the answer for keeping Millennial employees engaged and committed.

The HBR study found that Millennials want more frequent feedback from their managers. Rather than annual or quarterly reviews, they would prefer monthly feedback. Compounded with wanting feedback “50% more often than other employees,” Millennials report that the majority of managers fail to provide the development feedback they’re looking for.

Despite the negative stereotypes and myths floating around Millennials and their work habits (e.g., narcissistic, disloyal, easily distracted and not hard working) research shows that Millennials can be tremendously successful within an organization when their feedback needs are met. The feedback that Millennials seek falls under the category of personal development, such as efficiency and proficiency coaching, rather than managerial direction.

While it’s true that Millennials and their prominent self esteems have a higher need for praise in general, we don’t suggest that managers throw around praise carelessly—you don’t want to be seen as inauthentic. Rather, the approach that works best involves inspiring Millennial employees much in the way that great sports coaches fire up their teams before the big game. Successful positive coaching focuses on inspiring employees by understanding what motivates them. For Millennials, engagement is tied to actions that help people rather than institutions. Tying your message to the success of your team and a higher purpose is a compelling motivator. Do you struggle with inspiring your team? Fortunately, there are leadership training opportunities that can help you develop these skills.

Another frequently neglected aspect of managing Millennial employees is formalized career development planning, comprising training, mentoring, and coaching. Omitting or skimping on career development has been shown in another HBR study to lead to employee dissatisfaction, especially among top talent. High achievers, though they may be fully engaged, may be looking for new jobs that will more directly contribute to their continued development and success through a formalized program when they don’t receive the coaching they seek. By providing these professional development opportunities to your Millennial employees, you can boost your ability to retain the top talent that you worked so hard to attract and train.

A focus on positive, personal coaching of Millennial employees does not mean that accountability and control should be neglected by managers. Rather, coaching Millennials is less about telling them what to do, and focused instead on helping them to achieve their personal maximums in performance. Millennials are looking for this style of feedback and guidance from their managers.

Contact us to learn how The Wilbanks Consulting Group can help you cultivate a formalized Training and Development program to coach and retain great Millennial talent!

Amanda Y. Hendrix
Expert Consultant, The Wilbanks Consulting Group