Millennials are one of the biggest generation of the workforce. Of course, the much-analyzed millennial generation has also been the subject of many myths and assumptions.
Some say that they scrutinize everything and one needs to feel comfortable validating and confirming questions while working with them.
Curiosity makes us brilliant and pushes us to the next level, so this should be good.
The reality is a bit different however, at least based on my experience.
Yes, it is true many of them are asking lots of questions, however I would say that out of the total only about 50% ask questions and maybe around 30% of them are asking the right questions.
Lots of them avoid asking questions.
Is it because everything is clear and there is 100% alignment? Or maybe they think that the manager is the one who should always come up with the solution, so there is no need for them to ask any questions or clarifications?
There are numerous reasons, however I think these seems to be the norm:
- They are afraid and nervous. This for most happens at the beginning of the working relation. If this continues for a longer period of time then there is a problem either with the employee or with the way we manage people. Best way for us to handle this is to try to work as a team member rather than a solution provider and avoid using authority. We must concentrate on the problem, and encourage them to discuss the best approach to sort the same.
- Trying to please. This is the worse for me. We need to surround ourselves with honest team members and people who are not afraid to voice an opinion out of fear of not being liked. From our side, we need to ensure that any point of view is welcome, provided it adds value to the discussion in hand.
- They did not prepare for the meeting. Yes it happens. If it is an internal meeting I say cancel the same and ask the team to reschedule at a time and date when they would be prepared. Believe me next time around they will be ready. If it is a client meeting, handle the meeting and then have a word with the employee. Ask why little to no involvement. You might not always get an honest answer however you get him/her to think about it.
- They don’t know what to ask. When faced with a lot of information at once, for some it takes time to process. Time and experience usually sorts these issues.
- A lack of responsiveness from our side in the past. When they voiced their opinions in the past, we or the previous manager did not listen, or worse they felt like they somehow had to pay for being honest. So why should they risk doing so again? It is our job to build an open environment that encourages employees to want to contribute and grow. In the long run not giving a feedback to a question or penalizing one for asking a question can cost a company dearly. Smart people usually don’t stay for long in an environment in which they cannot voice their opinions or where they are being ignored.
- Not wanting to be seen as asking stupid questions. This usually stems from low confidence levels. Here it is the job of the manager to work with such team members, understand their strengths and make them perform at their best.
- Not interested in the job. It is on our best interests to avoid having in our team people that are not passionate about their job. We need to look for self -motivated people who do not need to be pushed every day to get their job done. When that happens we can move to the next stage of innovation. Believe me they are there.
Whatever the reasons might be, it is essential that our teams start feeling comfortable to ask questions and come up with their own suggestions of solving problems and it is our responsibility to help them do that.