Talent Talk

Find Time to Coach Your Millennial Employees — Even Those Over 50

Charles DeNault

Guess when this was written:

We now have a new generation of workers who grew up knowing prosperity … With plant closings, layoffs, and turbulent economic times, these employees do not embrace the same quid pro quo as their parents. Attaining a sense of personal (as opposed to financial) well-being is a prime motivating factor. Today’s workers feel that in exchange for coming to work, they should be stimulated, challenged, and recognized for their efforts.

Way back in 1992. That’s right, it’s not about millennials — it describes Gen Xers and trailing-edge baby boomers, like me. Speaking on behalf of 40- and 50-somethings, I like my work to be stimulating and challenging. And I like being recognized, even in the form of badges. (Maybe I’ll get one for this blog!)

The excerpt above is from “Employee Coaching: The Way to Gain Commitment, Not Just Compliance” by Lois P. Frankel, Ph. D. and Karen L. Otazo. I found it while I was researching coaching and development. It’s a fine article covering employee coaching in detail, and as I suggested in a previous post, it would be a great piece of directed reading for a training program on coaching. 

So how do we make work stimulating and challenging for all “millennials”? I don’t think there is a short answer to that, but it certainly helps when others show interest in your work. And that’s a manager’s job. When managers show interest in their employees and their work, engagement rises and productivity usually follows.

Apart from coaching skills — which can be learned — the biggest impediment for effective coaching is time. However, as Daisy Wademan Dowling writes, there are ways to use down time, such as calling your employees while walking back from a meeting or driving to an appointment. These quick chats can make coaching effective in as little as 15 minutes a day. Elliott Masie gets this down to two to three minutes a day using email, IM or the phone in what he dubs “nano-coaching.”

The bottom line is that by using down time and cell phones, managers can quickly give praise and constructive feedback. But let’s not stop there: We can also use Skype, instant messaging, text messages, WhatsApp, or whatever is available to connect with the team. Regardless of the medium, coaching done well will raise employee engagement — and all your millennials, young and old alike, will appreciate that.  

Charles DeNault is a Sr. Director, Product Marketing at Saba. He invites you to continue the discussion on coaching and development in Employee Coaching, a public LinkedIn group