Despite the never-ending list of articles and advice out there on the topic, the truth remains clear: business leaders need help learning the skills to hire and manage millennials effectively.
In this interview, Ginevra shares some of her secrets for hiring and managing a successful team of millennials.
You consider yourself to be a millennial. Please tell us a little more about what it means to be a millennial.
Like most millennials, freedom and flexibility are huge for me. And I mean this on a few levels. First, in the work itself, I find that I dive deepest into businesses that allow me the opportunity to think independently and give me the trust to solve problems for the company and my team at rapid fire.
Second, in support of my personal life, I view my job and my life as one entity. I prefer not to segment them as I don’t connect with the idea that I “stop living” during working hours. Instead, my work is part of the passion that makes up my life. In order to live this way, I need the two not to combat each other.
So long as I have a leader and a team that trusts me, it’s not difficult for me to allow work and life to bleed into each other. In most cases, this actually means I’m working harder than I would if I was asked to draw a line between the two — and this approach allows me to do that without burning out.
Why do you think there is so much controversy surrounding the topic of millennials in the workplace?
There’s always friction when one generation starts to overtake the prior generation. But the bigger issue may be that millennials are a diverse bunch. They aren’t all wired the same and that makes them hard to understand. When we read about millennials, they’re constantly being typecast as entitled and it’s really not that simple.
What has your experience with millennials in the workplace been?
The exciting part about working with millennials is that they want ownership of their work and they want to create. Personally, I think it’s valuable to challenge processes and authority and I want to work with people who do the same. Everything is more interesting when you’re working with people who want to defy the status quo.
How would you describe your approach to hiring millennials?
I think it’s important to look for people who have a history of work, whether that’s through an internship, part-time job, starting an online business, retail, babysitting, anything. This is one of the best ways to segment proactive millennials from the stereotyped entitled bunch.
Once you’ve zeroed-in on a small group of strong candidates, I also recommend asking them to tell you about a time something went wrong or where their goal was not met. Their answer to this question can be very telling. Specifically, look for those who are comfortable admitting fault as opposed to those who instinctively place blame.
Another option to consider is group interviews. You’ll find when you get a group of millennials in the same room that it’s quite easy to identify the differences between them. Offer a timed group project and observe. You’ll find leaders, followers and lone wolves within minutes.
What’s it like to manage a sales team of millennials?
I work with a team of productive millennials who are extremely loyal and dedicated to the business. As a result, there’s a constant influx of ideas coming from the group. As their manager, it’s my job to be able to process and prioritize their contributions. In doing so, I have to walk a fine line between empowering a variety of their ideas while also ensuring they don’t stray too far from our central goals.
In your opinion, how is hiring/managing a team of millennials different from gen x’ers or baby boomers?
I find that people across multiple generations are more alike than they are different. Most of the older generations I’ve worked with actually benefit from the same things that drive millennials. They’ve learned to harness the agile work style of the millennial generation and are leveraging this to become entrepreneurs who build businesses that support a lifestyle of freedom and flexibility.
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