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Creative Leadership in Action:
Christine Hassler, Millennial Expert
Part Two – Millennials At Work

Christine Hassler

You can’t do business as usual with Millennials.

Your Gen Y employees will zone out when you start talking about “paying dues.” And Millennial customers won’t flock to you just because you have a Twitter account.

So what works instead? Christine Hassler knows what makes this generation thrive in their jobs and what marketing messages they’ll actually pay attention to.

Hassler is an author, speaker, life coach and expert on Millennials. If you missed our conversation about understanding Gen Y beyond the stereotypes, check it out here. This week, she expands on those ideas to talk about how you can work successfully with Millennials at your company and how to reach your Millennial customers.

How can companies really support Millennial talent?

Well, first of all, hire the right Millennials.

There are those that I call Gen Why Me: the ones that are more entitled, more coddled, lazier and expect instant gratification.

Then there are the Gen Yes’ers that are enthusiastic, want to do things and are hungry for responsibility. They still may need a lot of coaching and a lot of “hand-holding,” which I don’t think is a bad thing, but they have the right attitude. I encourage managers to hire for attitude over skill — you can teach skills; you cannot change someone’s work ethic.

In terms of company culture, education’s a big thing. So make sure, No. 1, that everyone understands the workplace priorities and preferences of different generations. If you have an expectation that every person is going to “pay their dues” in the same way, it’s not going to work. It’s just going to build resentment, and no one’s going to be collaborating.

The second thing in having a Millennial-friendly corporate culture is transparency. They want to feel involved in the team. They want to know WHY they are doing what they are doing and WHY it matters.

I understand they’re not going to be in the big budget meetings with the CEO or the board, but the more transparency, openness, access and mentoring, the better. I think that we slip too much into management and not really mentoring.

And really be clear about how they make a difference. I worked with a big financial company that was having trouble retaining their analysts, who were all Millennials.

I asked the analysts, “How many of you know how your job impacts this company?” And they’re like, “We have no clue.” None of them had ever met the CEO.

So I had the CEO do a lunch with them and talk about how their job impacts the company, why they matter and why he values them. And we made this a quarterly thing, where he would go down and talk to them. The retention rate more than doubled in a year.

Do you think the concept of mastery has lost value in the Millennial generation?

I do, and I think it’s good and bad. Having to know a little about everything is becoming more important because there’s so much more out there. And more traditional trade occupations are declining as computers and outsourcing take over more jobs. Also, it takes 10,000 hours to be a master at something, and because this is a very ADD generation that moves from one thing to the next, they’re not experiencing that level of mastery. It may not be something they slip into until they’re a bit older.

A problem I focus on solving when I consult with corporations is knowledge transfer. As older employees are soon going to be retiring at an unprecedented rate, transferring that mastery onto the younger generation is even more important.

Is there anything else that you feel like is really valuable in reaching Millennials?

Millennials are a hot topic and everybody wants to connect with them, but don’t engage with them just for the sake of engaging with them. I see so many companies start a Twitter account because they think that’s what will reach Millennials. No. You have to be a company that has a personality, that is putting content, not just marketing, out into the world and that is really interested in your consumers and in connecting with them. Furthermore, you better stand for something beyond just profit. Millennials are loyal to companies and brands who are socially and environmentally conscious and interested in developing their employees. Don’t just talk at Millennials, talk with them. Transparency and honestly connecting with your consumer is equally as important for marketers as it is for corporations who want to recruit and retain employees. (Tweet+Share)

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