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Tapping into Millennials’ Motivation to Build High-Performance Teams

If you’ve been in leadership roles for a while, you’ve likely recognized that it’s never been harder to lead a team. The rise of millennials in the workforce, the speed at which change happens (or doesn’t happen) within organizations and an increase in disengagement for the average American worker are just some of the causes.

In fact, 90% of executive leaders recognize the value of engaged teams, but only 24% believe their teams are actually engaged. And it’s not just the leaders feeling the disconnect. The employees feel it too, particularly millennials. Taking into account that 74% of the workforce will be millennials by 2024, consider these statistics:

  • By 2024, 74% of the workforce will be millennials
  • Less than a third of millennials feel their organization makes full use of their skills
  • 66% of millennials plan to leave their current job in the next 2-3 years
  • 67% of millennials do not have confidence their current manager is leading them in the right direction

Yet with all odds against leaders, there are some that have figured out how to cultivate high-performance teams in the midst of today’s challenges. How? They have figured out how to recognize generational workplace differences, embrace them, and adjust leadership styles to fit what each generation is likely to need.

Let’s take a deeper dive into what motivates and demotivates millennials:

Most common motivating work concepts for millennials

  • Impact- they want to know their work is making a difference
  • Learning- they want to feel like they are continuing to learn new things
  • Family- they want to know that their entire life is important to employers, not just their work life

Least common motivating work concepts for millennials

  • Autonomy
  • Ownership
  • Money

Digging into the data, the least motivating concepts for millennials show that they prefer to work in team environments where the entire team claims ownership over projects. This is a huge shift from prior generations, where autonomy and recognition of individual contributions were top motivators. The highest performing managers have figured out how to tap into this need for cohesive, dynamic teams.

Impacts on the staffing and recruiting industry

If autonomy is a demotivating concept for millennials, it’s imperative that you don’t send millennials out on assignments and never check in with them. If they are in a job where they aren’t working on a collaborative team, do everything you can to fill in lack of team interaction at your client’s site.

When negotiating with a millennial, recognize that money is not their main motivation. Once you’ve hit the threshold where they can comfortably pay rent, student loans, etc., extra money is not going to speak to their core motivations. Consider focusing more on your client’s dedication to providing flexibility for family issues or opportunities for continuous learning. And above all, know exactly how the role you’re selling to your candidate will make an impact. It doesn’t matter if the impact is on customers, coworkers, or the greater good, it’s important that millennials understand how their work is making a difference.

Source: Adrian Gostick, The 5 Disciplines of High Performance Teams

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