Millennials... if you read too many articles about them online, you will probably never want to hire one for your sales team.
Often described as things like "entitled", "lazy", "distracted", there is plenty of negative things being said...
The challenge with this however is that Millennials now equate for more than 25% of decision makers and more than 35% of new hires as the baby boomers retire and the baton is passed on.
So what do we need to do to ensure we are not just hiring and firing millennials, getting frustrated and angry in the process, but instead attracting, motivating and retaining them to be integral parts of our sales teams?
By the way, paying them more is absolutely not on the list! While remuneration is important, it is not near the top of my to do list to attract and retain millennials. The reason I say this is because I know hundreds of millennials who work as Digital Nomads, Barista's and Bar Staff not because of the money, but because of the love for what they do.
1/ Make the workplace fun
You might not have the budget for a Google style office setup with video games, table tennis, but make the workplace a WORK HARD / PLAY HARD ZONE. When people love coming to work it makes a massive difference!
2/ Outlay multiple career paths
We all like flexibility and the ability to change our minds. The younger generation are no different, in fact, crave it more.
3/ Give flexibility within hours and work location
Gone are the days of people not working til they turned up at the office. The creation of the smart phone means for most of us, our office is wherever it is. It's easy to confuse hours in the cubicle for hours working. Instead, judge performance based on performance, and be flexible with the rest.
4/ Think about perks
Having lunch provided, gym memberships, work trips, conferences and freebies are great ways to appeal beyond the money and things millennials love. A friend of mine has stayed working for an alcohol distributor even though he hates the job, based purely on the freebies and Christmas parties!
5/ Get them involved and listen to their ideas
The great asset many millennials have is they are entrepreneurial in their thinking. Additionally, they have experience with technologies and social media tools we just have no idea about as older generations. Listen to them and get them involved. Everyone wants to be valued.
6/ Outline the vision
There is an ancient proverb that says "without vision the people perish", and I believe this to be very true when communicating to millennials. We must stop micro managing them and forcing them to do their job correctly, instead be continually outlining the vision of your business or project and releasing them to buy into it.
7/ Throw Away The Stick
If you manage with threatening, negative and beat up techniques expect every millennials in your company to RUN! This technique might have worked 30 years ago where you could start a sales meeting with all the things your team was doing wrong and tell them they better improve it they won't have a job, but that stuff doesn't work with millennials! You instead need to encouraging, empowering and motivating them to lift when results aren't there. As tempting as it is to reach for the stick, you must leave it alone.
8/ Flatten the org structure
Titles, reporting structures, levels of authority, closed door managers offices are all things that will distance you from your millennial team. Having open plan, open communication management styles where there is respect for authority without fear, develops relationships and comfort.
9/ Build relationships
As discussed on the previous point, relationships are key to retaining star millennials. When you take an interest, a real interest in others, they in turn reciprocate. This is for all generations. Take an interest in your team's hobbies, interests, families and activities outside of the office.
10/ Create teams
As discussed in point 1, having fun isn integral to millennial success. One great way to have fun in your sales team is to create teams within your teams. Use these teams for team building exercises, incentives, games, coaching and training. You should encourage the creation of team names, logos and add personalisation and ownership to these teams.
11/ Be realistic
When I was growing up, my father worked in sales for NCR computers for 35 years. He only ever worked for them and 1 other company. Today, that sort of tenure is not only less likely, but less desirable. Often we talk about staff turnover as being an issue, and on the surface it is. However I do believe there is such thing as healthy staff turnover. Be realistic that most millennials like change. They like to explore the grass on the other side. This is not a bad thing when you are ready for it.
Just like a sporting team front office, you always need to be planning your next recruits and investing into development.