Many define the 'Millennial Generation' as those having been born sometime in the 1980's through the 90's. This generation is used to instant results, changing technology and an attitude of working smarter, not harder.
In certain definitions, I find myself part of this generation although I do remember my childhood rotary dial phone, waiting for my favorite song to play on the radio so I could tape record it, researching papers using encyclopedias and using a pager. Most Millennials, however, do not know a world without text messages, Google, Facebook or mp3 players.
We're finding this generation taking over the population of many businesses, including the veterinary world. They have a bad rap for being lazy, but honestly they just work differently than Baby Boomers and Generation X. Here is how you can use them to your advantage:
1. Work Smarter, not Harder
This could very well be the anthem for the Millennial generation. They are accustomed to a world of technology and it making their life a little easier.
You can use this to your advantage by letting them lead the forefront of any technological changes in your veterinary clinc. Changing practice management systems? Ask a Millennial to take charge.
2. Let them do social media
One of the keys to being an effective manager is the art of delegation. What better way to keep your Millennials busy (and probably happy) than to let them continue on with their social media habits?
Put them in charge of the clinic's Facebook, Twitter & other social media accounts. They will have tricks up their sleeve that would've taken you hours to figure out.
3. Praise more than you think neccesary
Millennials are used to everybody being a winner, receiving a trophy for 2nd place, and always earning a participant ribbon. This has lead them expect to be acknowledged no matter where they place.
Perhaps, though, we are just used to not praising our staff as much as we should. Hence, the overwhelming abundance of short careers, mental health issues and turnover. Make an effort to praise your Millennials and offer ways to earn rewards.
4. Instant gratification
Nothing gets to a Millennial's heart like instant gratification. The best place for a Millennial to experience this is (in my opinion) in dental land. Give them the opportunity to get involved with dental cleanings and you just might win over their heart.
5. Show them growth opportunities
Just like delegating your social media needs to your staff, give them opportunities in other areas that will relieve your stress. If their resume didn't fully reveal their abilities, just ask them. You might have someone who is interested in maintaining the schedule, designing vaccine reminders or upgrading your waiting area.
Millennials are more likely to move on to a new job opportunity if they do not feel they have room for advancement in your practice.
6. Coach, don't dictate
Other generations are used to working with leaders that dictate. Millennials, however, do better with coaching and leadership through example.
Think of yourself as a positive role model versus their superior and this might change your attitude towards them as well.
7. Be clear on expectations
Finally, cover all your bases by being clear on your expectations. It is important to have defined protocols, job descriptions and structure. The less a Millennial must interpret your clinic's workflow, the better. It also makes for a team that can work well together.
In conclusion, Millennials are not the enemy. They have grown in a unique and constantly changing society. There are many ways you can use Millennials to your advantage in the veterinary workplace.