Key for Managing Millennials: Setting Clear Performance Expectations

Look around any office or job site. Workplace demographics are shifting more rapidly than ever. Millennial workers (Those born after 1980) are at the heart of this demographic shift. This group now makes up more than 50% of the workforce. These younger workers have some differing expectations than others.

They are often seeking accelerated responsibility or a path to a leadership role. They are looking for a greater degree of flexibility in how work is done and a chance for their opinion to count. They’d like their work to have meaning. And, perhaps most importantly, they crave some regular feedback about progress and the direction of their career.

Setting, clarifying, aligning and maintaining clear performance expectations is one key to managing millennial workers. This means managers need to find the right time to identify and share those expectations with their employees, and then continue to keep an open dialogue about what is important and what success looks like.

Start by focusing the conversation. Make the purpose of the meeting clear by focusing on the outcome. Create the right amount of urgency and establish why it is important now, and really encourage the employee to take ownership and participate in the process. These are their goals.

Remember the specificity leads to success. The more objective and measurable the expectations, the better it is for everyone. Keep the emphasis on outcomes and deliverables when possible.

Nobody wants to go in to their work week wondering what is important and what is not. So, confirm priorities and explore the possibilities and options when there are competing ideas, priorities and tasks.

Make sure that the employee has the resources they need to succeed. This starts by asking what they think they need and then actively exploring and identifying the resources that are available. Don’t forget to also identify any potential obstacles in advance, and discuss how they might be addressed.

Finally, put the plan in to action. Everyone should have a hand in writing the next steps. The meeting should not end until you’ve discussed what the process for follow up and checking in will look like. The meeting needs to end on an encouraging note, with confidence that everyone can succeed in these expectations.

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