For a few years, you couldn’t open your news feed without seeing an article dedicated to helping boomers and gen x-ers manage millennials. Millennials were a tough group to crack—they were digitally native, entrepreneurial and more likely to move around than their predecessors.
It took a while for some professionals to learn how to gel with millennials at the office, and also how to help them succeed.
Fast-forward a few years, and the question is no longer how to manage millennials, but how to turn millennials into excellent managers. The younger generation has come into its own in the workforce; in fact, in 2015 this age group surpassed gen x as the largest in the workforce.
Millennials have been leading the charge in the evolution of workplace culture and digital innovation, and now they’re stepping up as company leaders. Today, millennials hold 20% of all management jobs. Furthermore, 40% of millennials want to serve in leadership roles. If you are looking to become a better communicator and leader, consider these five truths to gain an edge over your competitors.
1. Get Comfortable With Virtual Communication
Company communications are no longer just a matter of face-to-face conversations. Today’s global workforce is becoming increasingly flexible, which means companies must adopt virtual communications strategies to maintain team functionality. Moving forward, young leaders will not only be tasked with communicating with internal teams via video conference, but also with clients and prospective customers.
How company leaders present themselves on camera will have a direct impact on company success. The best way to improve video and virtual communication proficiency is through practice. Tasking young managers with leading internal virtual meetings on a regular basis will help them prepare for a future when video conferencing, and even VR, will play a major role in their day-to-day responsibilities.
2. Slow Down When You Write
Chalk it up to texting culture or less time, but emails in today’s work environments have become pretty lax. In fact, many older employees gripe about the diminishing standards of written communication. An easy way for young leaders to earn the respect of their peers, and elders, is to spend time on their writing.
There are certainly email etiquette rules that every professional should follow. But to really position yourself as an effective communicator and strong leader, you should pay special attention to responding in a timely manner, using proper grammar and concise language, and copying all parties relevant to the conversation.
3. Pay Attention To Your Body Language
As a young leader, it’s your job to help your team members and direct reports grow into their roles. Young leaders must not only know how to listen to their colleagues; they must also be able to encourage team members to voice concerns and opinions.
Make yourself open to questions and discourse; if your team sees that you are open to conversation and critique, they will be more comfortable with speaking up.
You can communicate a sense of presence and openness through your body language. The next time a direct report approaches you with a question or concern, try mirroring their movements, because this will subliminally signify total presence.
You cannot be a solid communicator if you do not know how to listen first. The professional workplace today is full of distractions: employees are juggling multiple devices, email accounts and inter-office communication systems.
There’s a lot of digital noise, which can make it hard to focus on someone else’s message. Something as simple as putting down your phone during meetings and face-to-face conversations will not only help you focus on what is being said; it will also send the message to your team members that you value them and care about what they have to say.
5. Embrace Differences
As a young company leader, you might be managing people both younger and older than you. Working with a variety of age groups means you have to navigate distinct communication preferences and styles.
Your older colleagues and direct reports may prefer face-to-face communications, whereas any millennials or gen z-ers who fall under your guidance may prefer to communicate updates and ask questions over messaging applications.
While you have the opportunity to set the tone for your team, it’s also in your best interest to meet them where they are most comfortable, which means you’ll need to communicate across a variety of media every day.
Communication practices in the office are changing rapidly. Today, how you present yourself across social media and in virtual meetings can have a big impact on the amount of respect you earn from your colleagues.