Like previous generations, Millennials enter the workforce with different assumptions from the generation before them, says Laura Brown, PhD, a communications and writing consultant. However, the “degree of differentiation is larger [now] than in previous generational shifts,” due in large part to technology and the Internet.
For example, while previous generations were accustomed to writing formal business letters, most Millennials are used to texting and e-mailing their friends. And some use the same informal tone when texting and e-mailing clients and colleagues, explains Brown, who is the author of How to Write Anything: Practical Guidance for Everything You’ll Ever Have to Write.
Training can help address workers’ assumptions and help avoid potential problems with customer service, productivity, and retention, she says. That is why Brown recommends that all new employees receive communications training during onboarding and then a few times per year after that, followed by ongoing efforts to create an awareness of the topic via e-mails, newsletter articles, and online interviews.
Managers at all levels need to learn to adjust their own management style to this generation rather than trying to mold them into something that they’re not, she says, adding that training for supervisors and managers should cover the following topics: helping Millennials understand the company’s hierarchy and how they fit into it; setting clear expectations and explaining why those expectations have been set; establishing deadlines and the importance of meeting them; and focusing on leveraging Millennials’ strengths.
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Brown says training for other employees should address the employer’s hierarchy, the employee’s role in the organization, HR’s role, writing professional e-mails, when to send an e-mail vs. making a phone call or walking into someone’s office, what should—and should not—be put into writing, and understanding that what an employee tweets and posts online can be misinterpreted as representing a company’s position—and that there are consequences for that.
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