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How to Communicate With Millennials in Your Firm

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By Casey C. Sullivan, Esq. on July 28, 2016 1:59 PM

They've never seen a Walkman. They don't get your references to Henry Kissinger or Tabitha Soren. You definitely don't get their apps, or understand why they're so into Pokemon right now. Can the gap between Millennials and the rest of us ever be bridged?

Of course. Communicating with young lawyers, interns, or support staff isn't as hard as it seems. Here are some tips to help you out.

Give Frequent Feedback

Millennials, or those whippersnappers born sometime between the early 80's and the late 90's, are now the largest segment of the American workforce. But working with Millennials isn't exactly the same as working with Boomers or Gen X'ers.

Millennial workers tend to be less willing to put their heads down and grind out work day after day, without hearing anything back. Instead, Millennials crave feedback, and they want it before, during, and after a task. If they're not getting it, they may even start demanding it.

Over at Attorney At Work, Linda Hazelton provides a few guidelines for giving feedback to Millennial attorneys:

For the future: Try to catch them doing something right and comment on it. When something happens that isn't optimal, make your comments future-oriented. "The next time you suspect you'll have trouble meeting a deadline, please let me know immediately so that we can strategize a solution."

Discuss Career Paths and Advancement

Like the Boomers before them, Millennials are an impatient group. They want to get ahead in their career, and they want to do so quickly. In a law firm, that may mean moving from junior associate to senior associate, but it could also mean gaining greater experience and responsibilities more quickly. After all, Millennials want to grow not just in job title and salary, they want to grow in substantive experience as well.

But many Millennials aren't t interested in following the traditional paths to career advancement as older generations might have been. According to a study by Bentley University's Center for Women and Business, Millennials are less willing to sacrifice their personal aspirations for their career ones, and they prefer working for organizations with multiple routes and timeframes for advancement.

Yet only two percent of Millennials can identify a colleague or supervisor who encourages them to pursue their career aspirations, according to the same study. Discussing career advancement and professional development with Millennials in your firm can help you identify and manage their expectations. That will allow you to retain your top talent, while also increase Millennial job satisfaction.

Need more insight into today's workplace? Download Indeed's free report, "Three Generations of Talent: Who's Searching for Jobs Today."

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