How Do You Deal With A Millennial Who Can’t Hack It?

Kris Dunn Generations, Kris Dunn, Performance

OK – first up, a note to all the readers.  This is not a generational site.  Paul, Maren and Tim all posted on quality stuff that is generation-based this week, and while generational issues will certainly be in the mix here at Fistful, they won’t merit four posts a week – at least most of the time. 

That being said, all the talk on Gen Y here and across the web (including this post by John Hollon at Workforce) made me ask the following question:

How do you treat a Millennial who can’t hack it from a work perspective?  Do you get them a life coach?  A new iPod?  Go all Stuart Smalley and tell them "gosh darn it, people like you!"?

I’m thinking that you use the same coaching tools you use with the old, broken down Xer’s and Boomers.Stuartsmalleyposters Make observations about the issues, let them respond, and then clarify expectations.  Once that’s done, hold them accountable for coming up with next steps, and then follow up in the same firm, professional but business-like way that you hold the other generations accountable.

Why am I focused on the fact that in additional to having some sweet potential, Gen Y is going to have some lemons who need to be dealt with?  A realization outlined by John Hollon in the aforementioned post:

"I have a close-up view of the Millennial generation: Not only do I have three in my own household, but I teach writing to a class full of them at a local university. And, although Millennials have their own unique generational issues, the ones I deal with reflect what you would find in society as a whole—some are good, some average, some clueless. How different is that from any other group?"

It may have been obvious to you, but amidst all the talk about the best ways to motivate the Millennial, I forgot one very important fact.  Some of them aren’t going to be very good. And if you’ve been in the HR biz for more than a year, you know when it comes to performance, directness rules.  Try to be cute with a Millennial regarding poor performance, and they probably come out thinking they just got promoted and have a blank check to buy a slushy machine for the office.

So when it comes to figuring out the Gen Y crowd, I’m back to Hollon’s point, mixed with my own experience.  Some Millennials are going to be good, some average and some bad.  The good are probably going to be uber-engaged on their own, and the bad, are well, bad…

Like so many things in the Talent game, you earn your money with the moderates in the middle.  Figure out how to motivate and retain this moderate Millennial, and you might end up having a competitive edge.

Stuart would love to coach them up for you…