Thursday, June 21, 2012

A Guide for Managing Millennials - Decision Making

This is the last of a 3-part series of guides for managers who are struggling with the performance and engagement levels of their Millennial employees. The first two provided concrete tips for Delegation and Performance Feedback. This last one addresses Decision Making.  

My recent blog post on Helicopter Parents in the Workplace raised alarms (primarily from Generation Xers) that a "reported 20-40% of Millennials' parents have called HR to obtain employment information, schedule job interviews and debate questionable performance reviews on behalf of their grown children." The concern is that it bespeaks a generation of teens and 20-somethings that does not make independent decisions. 

It's true. Millennials do not typically make decisions on their own. Given the choice, they will share their ideas through their social networks (which include their parents!), letting the group find the best answer through their combined experiences. In other words, the preferred decision making style among Millennials is crowdsourcing, a "distributed problem-solving model" in which "large numbers of solutions or information" can be gathered by "broadcasting problems" to a diverse group of "solvers."1

Crowdsourcing as a legitimate decision-making method in the workplace conflicts with the autocratic style of the Traditionalist generation, the consensus mode of the Baby Boomers and the independent decision making style of Generation X. But Millennials will make up 1/3 of the workforce by 2014, and their collaborative approach to work will become accepted protocol in the near future. Managers of this generation will get the best results if they seek concrete ways of integrating Millennial decision-making into daily work. They will also position their companies for future success in the process.

Amy Hirsh Robinson, Principal, Interchange Group
Workforce Strategies for the New Economy