Whether intentional or not, the generation known as millennials (born between 1981-1996) have had an unfortunate stigma attached to them. Many employers typically presume that young adults in their 20s and early 30s today are soft, overly sensitive, unmotivated and entitled—a combination of helicopter parenting and the Great Recession. However, while this new generation definitely thinks and responds differently than their parents did, they are also brilliantly creative and purpose-driven, and they can add significant value to your law firm—IF you know how to speak their language and take them as you find them. If you have millennial employees working at your law firm, let’s look at some practical ways to coach them effectively.
Focus on Value Rather than Profit
For most adults from Generation X and earlier, we could be easily incentivized with rewards like larger paychecks, greater prestige, working our way up the chain, etc. Millennials, who grew up in a recession triggered by corporate greed, tend to be decidedly skeptical of that mindset. They enjoy being able to pay their bills, of course, but they are more motivated by a sense of purpose than of profit. They’re more incentivized by being personally fulfilled at work as well as serving a higher purpose. Emphasize the ways in which their work is making a positive difference in the lives of your clients.
Provide Consistent Feedback
Millennials tend to thrive in environments where they feel connected rather than left to themselves, and they do better with immediate feedback than with periodic reviews. That way, they can adapt their processes more quickly. Keep open, honest and instant lines of communication to build trust and rapport.
Develop a Positive Office Culture
Millennials do their best work in an open environment that fosters, encourages and rewards creativity, rather than one with restrictive policies and punitive consequences for minor infractions. They don’t mind rules as long as the rules have purpose. You’ll get the most out of your millennial employees by developing a work culture that is professional yet flexible, focusing on what’s important without “majoring on the minors.”
Whether or not you relate or agree with their unique worldview, the millennial generation are the leaders of tomorrow. The more you understand what makes them tick and reach them on that wavelength, the more you’ll find them contributing productively to your law firm.