Exec Ed seminar: Managing Millennials

  • March 10, 2017
  • By Guest Blogger
  • 2 minute read
Prof. Andrew Knight
Prof. Andrew Knight

Move over, baby boomers. In the past few years, millennials have become the country’s largest living generation—and the country’s largest employee demographic. Known (OK, stereotyped) for their sense of entitlement and need for constant praise, these job-hopping 20 to 30 somethings have flooded organizations from coast to coast. And the resulting clash of work styles and preferences has created challenges for business leaders.

Employers can throw up their hands and keep managing the way they’re managing—or they can get tips and tools from Andrew Knight, associate professor of organizational behavior.

The generational change in the composition of the workforce has been like a wave crashing. Companies must adapt or they won’t survive.

—Andrew Knight

Knight has developed a survival guide.

In April, he’ll launch Managing Millennials, a daylong, open-enrollment seminar offered through WashU’s Executive Programs.

The seminar will begin with millennial myth busting.

“Group-based stereotyping has a negative impact on employees and results in employers missing out on a lot of talent,” he says. “No one likes being put in a bucket, especially if they don’t fit in it. Millennials are individuals, just like members of every other generation. Actually, in some cases, employees will have more in common with people in their functional area than with people their same age.”

Still, many millennials do share certain characteristics and motivations.

Pew Research Center asked millennials what makes their generation unique. Their No. 1 answer was technology use.

Knight says they’ve grown up with the assumption that information is readily available. Employers can leverage millennials’ affinity for information, especially when they push them to check sources and to interpret findings.

In comparison, work ethic was boomers’ No. 1 answer and Generation Xers’ No. 2 answer to Pew’s question on uniqueness. But work ethic didn’t make millennials’ top five responses.

“Some data suggest that millennials are less motivated by traditional financial rewards than boomers are,” Knight says. “Millennials want meaningful, purpose-driven work that’s aligned with their values. They also prefer a flatter corporate hierarchy, with more-direct access to senior leadership.”

Knight will present strategies for millennial engagement and retention. Best practices include clear expectations; regular feedback; reverse mentoring (pairing millennials with boomers for two-way learning); coaching; showing millennials how they can advance their own and their organization’s values; and well-being activities that promote work-life balance and physical, emotional, and financial health.

The goal is to boost organizational and employee effectiveness—and to make sure that companies and their people thrive.

Managing Millennials will be held from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.  April 4, 2017, at the Charles F. Knight Executive Education & Conference Center on WashU’s main campus.

Registration is required. For more information, call the Executive Programs office at 314-935-9494 or register here.

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