How to Use Goal Setting to Improve Millennial Employees

by Feb 21, 2018

All kinds of misconceptions exist about Millennial employees.

You may have heard that they’re difficult to manage or unmotivated. Depending on the article – there are more and more published every day – you may have heard all kinds of other criticisms, too.

I have to be honest with you though; I don’t see it.

What I do see is that Millennials are different than workers from other generations, but certainly no less talented or capable. The biggest problem is that not enough managers are using goal-setting to propel their Millennial employees toward meeting their potential.


4 Ways to Set Goals for Your Millennial Employees

Setting goals has always been an important part of effective management. This holds true for Millennial employees, but there are four specific ways you need to do it if you want the best possible results. Fortunately, this advice is fairly simple to apply.


1. Make It Easy for Millennial Employees to Track Goals

Much has been made about Millennial employees and technology. In short, they’re entering the workforce with a stronger grasp on technology than any generation before them.

A lot of this technology is about tracking their performance in different areas. They may use a Fitbit, which will tell them how many calories they burned that day. There is no shortage of apps to report how many steps they took over the course of 24 hours. The same can be said for apps that let them track their finances.

You may have heard that Millennials have short attention spans. That’s not completely fair, though. It’s probably more accurate to say that being raised with technology has made them more demanding on their feedback loops (more on this in a minute).

If you give them a goal, make sure you also give them a way to track it on a daily basis, at the very least. They want to know if they’re making progress, so they can adjust as necessary.


2. Give Them Your Thoughts on Their Performance

This shortened feedback loop means they also want to hear from you and may want that input more often than employees from other generations.

Technology can give them objective feedback on how well they’re doing, but your employees will also know this doesn’t tell the whole story. They know that your experience and position make your opinion a lot more valuable.

However, just because Millennials want feedback doesn’t mean they’ll ask for it. At the moment, only 19% of these workers are receiving regular feedback but only 15% are asking for it.

Commit to consistently giving your Millennial workers any thoughts you have on their work. Keep in mind, this doesn’t mean 30-minute meetings once a week. A simple instant message, email, or quick call will be enough to keep them engaged and moving toward their goals.


3. Find Out About Their Goals

Despite the fact that most Millennials are old enough to remember the Great Recession, this hasn’t dampened their commitment to finding meaningful work. They aren’t scared to leave a job – a major risk – to find one that better aligns with their goals.

One way to leverage this in order to get the best out of them is to help them understand the underlying reasons behind their work. They want more than just a paycheck, so no matter what it is they do for your company, explain to them the real value they’re providing and set goals that will channel this.

The other way to make the most of this point is to actually ask them what their professional goals are. More than 90% of them want to be leaders in your company, so that’s most likely a goal you can help them set and achieve by showing them how their day-to-day work contributes to this long-term plan.


4. Cultivate a Goal-Oriented Culture Throughout Your Company

The last thing I want you to take from this article is that setting goals isn’t only important for Millennial employees.

This is something you should be doing throughout your entire company with every staff member. Goal-setting is a vital form of employee motivation regardless of their age.

That said, Millennials value company culture. If yours is one that clearly prioritizes goal-setting, you have a better chance of attracting and retaining them as employees.

Aside from the advice we’ve already provided about how to help your Millennial workers set and achieve their goals, don’t forget about the importance recognition plays in the workplace.

As employees meet their goals, make sure you provide them with recognition. 69% of employees report they would actually work harder if they were recognized more. That’s an incredible ROI for just walking over to their desk and congratulating them.

Now, of course, you want to go above-and-beyond that from time to time. Public recognition is how you instill and maintain the type of company culture that elevates goal-setting and the kind that Millennials love.

At the moment, roughly 38% of Millennials would like to see their employers improve the way they recognize employees. As with the way you provide feedback, it doesn’t need to be an expensive or time-consuming gesture. Everything from a compliment to affording the employee greater freedoms (e.g. a more flexible schedule, longer lunch break, etc.) can go a long way toward the desired effect.


Give Your Millennial Employees Better Goals for Better Results

Millennial employees love working toward goals. The better you become at providing them with goals, the better they’re going to do.

Like all things, this will take practice on your part. Make it your goal to start goal-setting for your Millennial employees today and constantly work toward improving on this vital task. Try our Annual Goal Setting Booklet to gain clarity on your Millennial employees’ goals.

Speaking of setting goals, this is one of the topics we cover in detail during my eight-week leadership and management program, Take the Lead™. If you’re not 100% happy with your current ability to lead others, I would highly recommend it.

For those working in sales, I have another eight-week program, Systematic Foundation™, that also breaks down the steps involved with setting actionable goals. We then go on to talk about sales-related topics that will boost your confidence and help you close more deals.

Jeff Ruby

Jeff Ruby

Founder of RedRock Leadership

During the course of his professional career, he has worked in organizations ranging in size from a sole practitioner to Fortune 500. Included in his experience are roles in starting and selling companies, sales and sales management, training and development and executive coaching.

RedRock Leadership is a sales training and leadership development company committed to growing companies by growing individuals through on-going training infused with the competencies of emotional intelligence.