Managing Millennials – Friends, Phones, and Feedback
Much loved or much maligned, Millennials are the largest generation - roughly 80 million - to enter the workplace since the Baby Boomers. Raised by doting, often over-protective parents, they tend to have strong relationships with them. As a result, many live at home or are dependent on parents to some extent well into their 20s. They’ve long been taught to be team players, and everyone gets a trophy no matter where they place in the race.
What we see in the dental practice backs up some of the common generalizations. In particular, Millennials tend to be sharp and are quick to learn new things. A generation of gadget geeks, they easily embrace technology, much more so than their Boomer or even Gen X counterparts. They also have high expectations that they will be provided the tools and training to perform at their best. After all, this is the most educated generation to enter the workplace. And many will happily embrace new challenges and opportunities if you help them succeed.
They’ve been told they’re wonderful for a very long time, so they tend to be self-assured. In some cases, this generation is so confident that what they’ve done is right, they don’t check their work.
Millennials are social, connecting to friends and family, texting, posting on social media, shopping, and doing it all with the help of their Smartphones. These are a huge distraction and a major source of contention between the generations in the dental practice. Millennial business staff think nothing of having their cell phones out at the front desk, firing off a quick text to a friend, Tweeting, or watching a YouTube video on the doctor’s time. Assistants and hygienists will keep their phones in their pockets, checking messages and posting on Facebook throughout the day. From cross-contamination concerns to unprofessional behaviors, personal phones in the practice are a problem.
Every dental office must have a cell phone policy and insist that these and other gadgets be put away in a purse or locker. Staff will commonly cry foul claiming that they need to be accessible to their child’s school should an emergency arise. Insist that staff give the office phone as the school’s emergency contact number, and allow employees to check their cell phones during quick breaks between patients.
While an environment that fosters teamwork is important to many Millennials, and they may be optimistic contributors to the group, eagerly wanting to share their ideas, that doesn’t mean they will work past 5 o’clock to get the job done. And that can leave their bosses and colleagues labeling them as poor team players. Known to be job hoppers, they won’t stick around if yours is a poorly led, dysfunctional team.
While some studies have labeled Millennials as feedback needy, the fact is that in the dental practice, employees have been craving feedback and direction for decades. And practices of all generations consistently find that when employees have clear job descriptions, understand how their performance will be measured, and receive ongoing constructive feedback, the team is far more effective and consistent in delivering excellent care and service to patients.
Millennials are commonly said to be the most altruistic and place a higher priority on making a difference. While this may be common in some circles, Millennials in the dental practice are very interested in compensation, and believe that they are every bit as deserving of the same salary or compensation rate as their older and more experienced colleagues and co-workers. It is particularly important that Millennials, as well as other employees on staff, clearly understand under what circumstances raises and promotions are awarded.
Once you’ve taken some time to better understand your Millennial employees, consider your patients. Keep in mind that those at the front end of the generation are in their early 30s. They have careers and are establishing families. Dental practices that are still calling patients to confirm appointments are operating in the dark ages. Millennials expect you to communicate with them using the tools and technology that they use, in particular, text messaging. They want products and services quickly and easily, so they won’t wait weeks, let alone months, for an appointment. The Internet is where they will search for your services , so make sure your website is fully optimized. And they are more likely to post reviews about their experiences than Gen X or Boomers.
Take time to better understand Millennials. They are the future of your practice.
For more information on this topic, visit my blog: The Lighter Side
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