Our industry is aging rapidly; how can we overcome this challenge?
Have you ever thought about how our industry is aging? Over the last several years, many people have been “right-sized” out of the building material industry, as well as made the decision to leave. Take a look at your organization including your outside sales forces, GMs, product managers, marketers; do you have a good mix of ages spread throughout? The sad fact is many younger people were forced out of our industry over the past five years, and now many organizations need to bring in younger people and train their future leaders.
So, if you believe we need new blood infused throughout our organizations to revitalize the future, what does that look like? What does that generation need and what motivates them to take the industry to the next level of success? And how does that group want and need to be managed to be successful? Let’s start with that.
First off, what the heck is a Millennial? It is an abbreviation for the Millennial Generation, a term used by demographers to describe a segment of the population born between 1980 and 2000 (approximately). Sometimes referred to in the media as “Generation Y”, Millennials are the children of the post-WWII baby boomer generation.
A few facts about this group:
- There are about 76 million Millennials in the United States (based on research using the years 1978-2000).
- Millennials are the last generation born in the 20th century.
- 20% have at least one immigrant parent.
- A number of studies, including one by the Center for American Progress, anticipate that Millennials will be the first American generation to do less well economically than their parents.
- They’re the most-diverse generation of Americans yet, with over 40% being non-white. And their children will be even more diverse, as American being the “melting pot” of the world continues.
As a general rule, they have a “can-do” attitude about tasks at work and look for feedback about how they are doing frequently, even daily. They crave a variety of tasks and expect they will accomplish every one of them. Positive and confident, millennials are ready to take on the world. So, here are 8 tips for managing this diverse population:
- Provide structure. Goals are clearly stated and progress assessed. Define assignments and success factors.
- Provide leadership and guidance. Millennials want to look up to you, learn from you, and receive daily feedback from you. They want “in” on the whole picture and to know the scoop. Plan to spend a lot of time teaching and coaching and be aware of this commitment before you hire them.
- Encourage the Millennial’s self-assuredness, “can-do” attitude, and positive personal self-image. They are ready to take on the world. Their parents told them they can do it – they can. Encourage – don’t squash or contain them.
- Take advantage of their comfort with teams. They are used to working in groups and teams. This is different than earlier generations with a Lone Ranger mentality. Develop team environments and watch them thrive.
- Listen. Your millennial employees are used to loving parents who scheduled their lives around their children’s activities. Because of this child-centric upbringing, they need their opinions and ideas to be heard.
- Create a challenge. Boring is bad! They seek ever-changing tasks within their work. Don’t bore them, ignore them, or trivialize their contribution.
- Celebrate their multi-tasking ability. These employees can talk on the phone, send emails, text, answer a question . . . all at the same time. It’s multi-tasking to a whole new level.
- Provide a fun, employee-centered workplace. Millennials want to enjoy their work. They want to enjoy their workplace. They want to make friends in their workplace. Worry if your millennial employees aren’t laughing, going out with friends for lunch, and helping plan the next company event or committee.
By some recent counts, 75,000,000 Millennials are preparing to join or joining the workforce. Think about how they could impact your building products company and what fresh thinking they could bring to your organization. Get ready for them. They will impact our future in a positive way!