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July 26, 2012

Closing the Gap: Helping Organizations Adapt to Millennials

As each new generation enters the workplace they bring a fresh set of beliefs, values, styles, and preferences. That can be challenging if other employees aren’t prepared.

Think about the bell-bottomed free spirits in the 1970s, who clashed immediately with their elder colleagues from the 1950s.

To help smooth the transition of Millennials into organizations filled with Veterans, Boomers, and Gen Xers, try these five steps:

  1. Create a tolerant, high-performance culture. Set expectations and model behaviors of teamwork, collaboration, and communication to build a culture that welcomes different styles and points of view. Conduct a thorough orientation so that all new employees—Millennials and others—understand the organization and how it works. Create opportunities for team building and interaction that help employees understand each others’ needs and work styles, and how they can work together toward common goals.
  2. Help Millennials understand the big picture. The reality is they are new to the professional workplace and can benefit from knowledge and mentoring. They will adapt more easily into the organization when they understand what is important to their colleagues and why certain systems are in place.
  3. Help older workers understand Millennials. Reassure established workers that the new employees may act and think differently than they do, but they want to do well and work hard to succeed.
  4. Educate Millennials on how to meet colleagues’ expectations. They need to realize that the better they understand their colleagues, the easier it will be to succeed in their work. Help them understand that although older colleagues may work a little differently than Millennials, all share similar goals such as financial security, purpose in their career, respectful co-workers, and support in the workplace.
  5. Establish mentoring relationships. Millennials have generally been encouraged and supported throughout their lives and will appreciate similar relationships with work leaders and colleagues. If other generations know that Millennials respect them and want to learn what they know, this can foster positive and productive work relationships.

How are you helping your organization or team adapt to Millennials?

- David Grossman


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