Managing the Millennial Lawyer: What Today’s Firm Leaders Need to Know
Forget the stereotypes – these folks are poised to be the next generation of legal powerhouses
The millennial generation consists of 80 million people, and many of them are either getting ready to enter the workforce or have already done so. And before too long, they will make up the largest percentage of the today’s workers – which means all businesses, including law firms, need to have a handle on the younger generation. This includes recognizing who they are, what makes them tick, and how to manage their unique skills and capabilities. Here are some important considerations and tips on how to make the most of your relationship with millennials:
Accept that it may be temporary
Whether it’s because they are multipotentialites (professionals who pursue several career paths instead of just one) or they’re not too keen on the 30-year, stay-at-the-same-firm plan, millennials tend to be movers. Many of them are looking for experience and are willing to pay their dues to get it, but will likely move on to the next position that offers even greater exposure and opportunity when it comes their way.
Does this mean you shouldn’t hire a millennial? By all means, no. Remember, they will not only soon make up the bulk of qualified applicants in the job market but they also have a ton to offer – even if for just a brief year or two at your firm.
Tell them what you think
This generation is the first in history to be born into the Internet era, so it’s no great mystery why they expect to have information available at their fingertips at all times. They’ve never had to wait to find out their grades in school, to hear back from a professor, or to get any other information they need. It’s also important to note that many of these folks have been raised by parents who praised them often; and when it comes to the workplace, millennials have the same desires and expectations. To keep them motivated and engaged, it’s important to offer consistent feedback, regular performance reviews, and to ensure that they feel involved and appreciated.
Share your vision
One characteristic that most millennials share is the desire to live a life of purpose. For the young attorney, it’s important that you share your vision for the firm and define how their role helps you achieve it. Law firms that offer development, training and growth opportunities, or allow their new associates the opportunity to explore more than one practice group will experience a much higher level of engagement.
It may be hard for seasoned attorneys to wrap their heads around this concept, but for the millennials, it’s sometimes more about the “why” than about how much money they will be making. In fact, while pay is of course important, this generation tends to place a high value on working for a purpose.
Be open to a flexible schedule
All work and no play makes … well, you know the rest. And while their parents may have a different view, millennials desire and expect a career that will offer flexibility and a good life-work balance. They are willing to work hard, but they also want to have the ability to get in their exercise, see their friends, or spend time with their family.
One of the most significant ways to keep them happy is by providing them the opportunity to work from home (or just remotely via Wi-Fi) if they want to. With the ability to do anything via the Internet, there are fewer reasons not to provide this flexibility. And most folks in this generation will tell you that they are even more productive when they’re able to knock out a few hours of work at night from home.
Don’t forget about technology
There are numerous benefits to working with a group of tech-savvy millennials. Besides the fact that they know how to get hard-to-find information fast, they’re also up on all the latest and greatest apps that can make jobs easier and more efficient. If your law firm isn’t tech friendly, it’s a good idea to explore moving in that direction. This will not only ensure your millennials are satisfied, but also that they can communicate and work in the manner they’re most comfortable with.
They’ve been called lazy, entitled, and non-conformist, among other things. And whether or not those stereotypes are fair, the truth is, many millennials are different from preceding generations. But their unique qualities, skills, and personality characteristics can be of great value to any organization, as long as they’re managed appropriately. When it comes to your law firm, follow these tips to make the most of your relationship with this new generation of legal professionals.
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