Volumes have been written on the challenges of managing and motivating the new generation of workers.
They have a negative reputation for wanting instant advancement, needing constant feedback, having a poor work ethic, and not responding well to traditional management approaches. Many of the senior managers we have executive coached have expressed frustration in their attempts to maximize the performance of their Gen Y employees. Our advice is always the same: don’t try to motivate or manage them. Instead, coach to develop them. Here’s why:
Tap Into Their Desire to Grow and Develop
Let’s be honest. No one really likes to be managed. And the rap on Millennials is that traditional management techniques don’t work well on them at all. On the other hand, coaching is all about helping people grow and develop- something especially appreciated by younger workers. Coaching is an effective tool for all generations, but is particularly well-suited as a leadership style when trying to maximize results from Gen Y employees.
Empower Millennials to Find Their Own Solution
Here again coaching as a leadership style excels because being coached to your own solution is much more empowering than being told what to do and how to do it. No one, especially a Millennial, wants to be micro-managed. The coach approach to leadership assumes that the best solution is the one that the employee comes up with themselves, the one they will really “own”. You will find that Gen Y can be quite resourceful if you empower them through a coach approach and encourage an entrepreneurial spirit to finding solutions.
Encourage Innovation, Creativity & Teamwork
Younger workers have a lot of creativity to tap, and their comfort with change, innovation and technology can be quite an asset if developed under the caring encouragement of a boss who coaches them. In fact, taking a coaching approach to manage your entire team can be exponentially rewarding. A team of inspired Millennials working together toward a goal they are mutually passionate about can generate surprising and impressive results. Coaching also engenders accountability and ownership, the perfect counterbalance to creativity and innovation and a great motivator to younger workers.
Connect Them to What They Care About
Young people have always been know for their idealism, and Gen Y has a particular reputation for wanting more meaning in their work. Coaching is again the ideal approach to accomplish this goal. Whether you are helping a young worker to find a solution to a day-to-day issue, resolve a workplace conflict, or plot out their longer-term goals, coaching is the easiest way to connect someone with what they find important. Coaching always begins with identifying what success looks like- including important details like the benefits they will enjoy when their solution is in place.
Helping a coachee see how their goal is tied to their particular values, strengths and desires is one of the most powerfully motivating aspects of the coach approach, and one of the reasons that we highly recommend that every leader learns to coach. Since the workplace is now dominated by Gen Y workers, this skill has never been more important or more valuable.