3 tips for communicating with millennials

By Christine Comaford, CIO |  Small Business, staff management

A leadership coach provides advice on how to engage and give feedback to millennials while keeping them accountable.

Always give millennials accountability structures so they know what you expect of them, what the success metrics are, and how you will track their performance. Millennials thrive in a high-transparency culture where it's clear what each member of the team accomplishes. This promotes a feeling of fairness, which further engages millennials.

Sometimes you'll need to give difficult feedback. Begin with a supportive, collaborative approach. State observable data and behavior ("Here's what I saw or heard," or "The deadline was missed"), then describe how what happened affected you and the team. Ask, "Is this what you think happened?" The idea is to get their perception and listen to and acknowledge their point of view--you don't have to agree.

Next, ask for or make suggestions about how to resolve the issue. Describe what you want in terms of specific behaviors. Don't say, "You need to be friendlier to disgruntled customers." Instead, give examples of words to say or actions they can take when an interaction turns tense or confrontational.

Get acknowledgement by saying, "What did you hear me say to you? I just want to be sure you understand." Finally, build small agreements. What is the millennial's plan for changing their behavior? How will you monitor your agreements? Remember, vagueness creates anxiety. Specificity brings peace of mind.

Never miss an opportunity to inquire versus give orders. Asking questions enables millennials to solve their own problems, find solutions and rise up as leaders.

Christine Comaford is a neuroscience-based leadership and culture coach who helps executives navigate growth and change.

Read more about staff management in CIO's Staff management Drilldown.

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