OK, all the business leaders who have kids in their 20s, raise your hand. Hmmm, lots of virtual hi-fives out there. Now, how many of you want to manage your twenty-something son or daughter at work? What...NO hands?
Well, we all know that Gen Y or the Millennials or Gen C (The Connected Generation) have values and attributes that Gen X or Baby Boomers don't always share (and if you are a parent, you know this all too well). And for many Boomers who did not grow up digital, Gen Y's affinity for all things technology is a definite distinction.
So for executives who manage Millennials, (and that is almost everyone these days), here are three tips for using technology to connect with employees from the Connected Generation
1.Think like Facebook.
This generation is collaborative; they love to share with friends, family and colleagues. To foster that collaborative mindset, create wikis and collaborative portals to enable the sharing of ideas. Better yet, challenge THEM to develop the wikis and portals themselves and offer an incentive: a contest with a cool technology-related reward (perhaps the latest ipod with $500 i tunes gift card?).
2. Use Web 2.0 Technologies Since this generation grew up digital, the more you immerse your organization in web 2.0 activities, the more your Millennial employees will feel at home.
Encourage writing for a corporate blog or Twitter account. Use video, video and more video. Send out a message via email and my guess is 99% of Millennials won't read it. Send your corporate message out in video, you've got guaranteed clicks.
And encourage employees to mentor others via videos. Quick "how to's" on subjects of interest is a natural magnet and it will let Gen Y's creative juices have a natural and comfortable web 2.0 outlet.
You can also use Twitter to keep in touch with your Gen Y employees. Why not have a set "Twitter time" 30 minutes once a week where you are open to suggestions, sort of a virtual suggestion box on your Twitter feed. Great way to maintain contact and keep open the channel of communication.
3. Don't Pull a Mark Antony Antony's famous line about coming to bury Caesar and not praise him would not endear Antony to today's Millennials. They live for praise and had it most of their lives from doting moms and dads (all you parents who told your Millennial children they were wonderful just for showing up for soccer practice might feel a bit of guilt at this point). From an executive's standpoint, all this means is that you need to take the time to recognize and praise accomplishments. Not such a bad idea for everyone--we all like to get recognized.
But make your praise and recognition digital. Hook up a CUVA camera to your laptop if you don't already have one and send a quick video praise quote. Watch how quickly your Gen Y employees respond.
Another option is to offer recognition via MP3. Make a quick podcast of your comments and send a text note with the MP3 attachment.
And for those who truly deserve mega praise, if you think it is appropriate, post your recognition on your internal company blog.
Bottom line, using the latest technologies to communicate with your Millennial workforce could help ensure the most important part of Gen Y in your organization--RETENTION!