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Creating Successful Leaders

Career coach Margaret Smith of UXL discusses how to effectively train Millennial workers

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training millennials

Millennial workers are the future. The generation born between 1980 and 2000 currently comprises 36% of the workforce and 15% of all leadership roles in the United States, and will continue to grow as members of the Baby Boomer generation retire. Although some workers like to dismiss the Millennial generation as “disloyal” or “entitled,” much of this negative labeling comes from fundamental misunderstandings between generations. Because Millennials will soon be the most prominent demographic in the modern workforce, I decided to dedicate the month of February to this generation. Whether you’re training Millennials, working alongside them, or you are a Millennial, this series should be useful to you. To kick off, I will first discuss training techniques.

Many organizations are not keen on the idea of overhauling their entire employee training program. Yes, it can be costly and time-consuming, but it is an absolutely essential step to take if you want to attract new talent and set up new hires for success. And there’s an additional bonus: According to Sweetrush Training, “Applying these [new training programs] will make your training stronger and more effective for everyone — not just Millennials.” That’s because older generations have many of the same tendencies as Millennials, including a positive response to feedback and an interest in interactivity.

The following is a list of some typical Millennial traits and how they translate into workplace training:

  1. Millennials are goal-oriented and like clarity

Before delving too deeply into your training program, give your Millennial trainees a high-level overview of what you’re going to cover and what they need to know. According to Vivid Learning Systems, “Helping them understand early on what is expected of them helps them not only succeed in training but also on the job. You can do this by clearly communicating training objectives, informing trainees about what information they will be evaluated against and how they will be evaluated, and providing an opportunity for Millennials to ask questions and clarify expectations early on.”

  1. Millennials learn better by doing than seeing

To put it frankly: lecture-style training sessions do not work. Most Millennials have grown up with interactive classrooms in which the teacher promotes learning through games, roleplaying, labs, and asking questions. Actually, this kind of interactive learning environment works well for people in all generations. Instead of talking at your trainees and flipping through powerpoint slides, try something more engaging. Use case studies, group work, scenarios, video clips, question and answer sessions, etc. You’ll find that this training style will keep your Millennial hires interested and help them better retain what they’ve learned.

  1. Technology is second-nature for Millennials

Whether it’s videos, online forums, training software, simulations, or interactive Smartboards, incorporating technology into your training program is essential. Millennials are comfortable with technology and readily turn to it for both education and entertainment. By weaving technology into your training program, you’ll find that Millennial trainees will stay engaged and your company will appear to be more relevant and modern in their eyes.

  1. Millennials are interested in collaboration

According to USA Today, studies show that “Millennials actually like to work in teams more than their elders.” This may seem counter-intuitive, given most Millennials’ attraction to technology (and the amount of time they spend engaged with their smartphones), but a full 60 percent of Millennials would prefer to collaborate in person vs. online (34 percent) or via phone or videoconference (6 percent). An added bonus of including group activities in your training program is that the new hires will get to know each other and begin to form bonds. Given that a positive work environment is typically very important to Millennials, it’s a great idea to get them working alongside and befriending their peers right away.

If you have any questions about creating a new training program for the next generation of workers, please do not hesitate to contact me today.

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