Teach Millennials How to Get What They Need from You

Managers often say that Millennials make a lot of requests and demands. I say those Millennials are doing you a favor. Once you know what they want from you, you have the key to getting what you want from them.

Case in point: one Millennial once told me, “I cannot work Friday, Saturday, or Sunday. I know that sucks, but I can’t. The thing is, I’ll do anything else. Give me Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays and I’ll do anything else, and I mean anything.” Stop taking insult when Millennials make demands and requests such as these. Start using that opportunity to drive their performance.

“I tell my Millennials, ‘If you want to carry some weight with me, you’ve got to bring your very best effort to work every day,’” an experienced manager told me. “You’ve got to get here on time. Don’t screw around while you are on the job. When there is downtime, find something to make yourself useful. If you see something out of place, fix it. If you see other employees screwing around, tell them to knock it off. Take some initiative. Keep moving.”

Spell out for your Millennials exactly what they must do to gain your assistance in getting their needs met.

When I talked to some Millennials who worked for this manager, they all nodded in agreement, and one of them said, “There is no doubt. The slack-offs wouldn’t dare ask him for anything. But the really hard workers have no doubt that he’ll do anything for us.”

That’s the key: spell out for your Millennials exactly what they must do to gain your assistance in getting their needs met. Help them help you help them.

One executive offered this approach: Any and all requests from employees have to consider the proposed benefit, who the benefit will go to, what will it take to make the request happen, who will need to be involved, how will the employee making the request be involved, how will it be done, and how long will it take?

Indeed, by requiring that an employee who makes a request answer these questions, you are in effect helping that person prepare a simple proposal. I have seen this technique work wonders for managers of Millennials in organizations of all shapes and sizes. When managers require Millennials to put requests in the form of a simple proposal, Millennials tend to make fewer requests overall, make more reasonable requests, and make their requests in a much more professional manner. No matter how simple the process is, the very act of stopping to put their requests into proposal format causes Millennials to consider those requests more carefully.

I’ve seen the proposal technique used by managers formally, informally, and inadvertently. It works like a charm in any of these applications. I’ve seen managers use it to help Millennials obtain more resources for their own work or the work of their team; greater financial rewards for themselves, greater access to perks; credit for results achieved; new tasks and responsibilities; special assignments; training opportunities; exposure to decision-makers; scheduling flexibility; and the quirkiest personal accommodations you can imagine.

Even while managers are helping Millennials get more of what they need and want, the proposal technique also helps managers ensure that Millennials are paying a fair market value – in time and hard work – for whatever it is they are receiving.

There is one more huge advantage to helping Millennials get more of what they need/want from you: If they get more from you, they will be much less likely to leave.