The millennial demographic has become familiar: They’re tech-savvy, data-driven, entrepreneurial college grads who were practically born with digital devices in their hands. They’re well-positioned to make strides in today’s fast-moving, tech-focused world because, more than any other generation, they are deeply embedded in it.
But a closer look into the millennial mindset is key to developing best practices for coaching them in the workplace. The good news is that the traits that help this generation effortlessly “swipe” through the digital landscape can also make it easier for sales managers to coach them.
You’ve head the term “helicopter parenting” as it refers to millennials. More than Gen Xers, and much more than baby boomers, millennials were brought up on tightly scheduled daily activities. In their busy formative years, they received a lot of feedback from their first “coaches” – parents, teachers, taekwondo instructors, etc. They’ve grown used to feedback. And they want it. Which can make the sales coach’s job much easier.
But You’ve Got to Reach Them
Millennials are highly coachable and willing to be coached. They’re also pretty quick on the draw. As a sales manager, be cognizant of meeting millennials in the space where they thrive: somewhere between receiving feedback and figuring it out for themselves. Don’t expect old-school tools and coaching methodologies to be effective with this generation; instead, communicate to them through the tools of innovation. Millennials grew up during the technology revolution, with digital realities morphing rapidly. They didn’t rely on a lot of dry documentation to keep up but instead used the power of observation to onboard with the latest game-changing technological advance.
Millennials learn quickly and interactively, so take a hands-on, engaging approach to coaching: Don’t just develop programs that focus on the end user, but employ engaging interactive and role-playing activities that include millennials in the improvement process itself.
And speak their language by using technology for illustrating things like wins, losses and performance gaps. Millennials are a data-driven generation and are open to receiving coaching feedback based on measurable intelligence that will help them improve.
Get to Know Them
Nationwide, the number of millennials in sales organizations is growing. At last count, they surpassed Generation X to become the largest share of the American workforce. To effectively coach millennials, it’s crucial to get to know them. Familiarize yourself with what motivates them, gain a clear understanding of their expectations, and be clear on what their career goals look like.
If you want an honest answer to the clichéd question, “Where do you see yourself in five years?”, ask a millennial. They’ll know! But they need help road-mapping how to get there. Thoughtful sales coaching is critical when it comes to your millennial sales reps. Nurture their career journeys by scheduling regular dialogues around goals and professional advancement.
As baby boomers retire into the snowbird lifestyle of RVs and sunshine states, millennials are set to take over as the largest generation. They will not only hold a majority stake in what happens in the workplace, but they will also possess the lion’s share of buying power in this country. It’s clear that millennials play a key role in any organization: helping businesses tap into the pulse of the present day to know what customers are thinking, missing and looking for, as well as how they will or will not engage with your offerings. Who are the best people to sell to millennials? Other millennials, of course. So coach them well, and then open the door to the helicopter and watch them parachute to greatness.