Much has been said recently about Millennials in the workplace. Although the oldest of the Millennial generation is now in their 30’s, younger Millennials are just graduating college and entering the workforce. If you don’t have any Millennials on staff yet, you will. If you are one of the fortunate pastors to have a few Millennials on your church staff, you may have recognized some of the difficulty inherent in leading them. While some emphasis has been placed on the differences that exist in Millennials in the workplace, the truth is that they are not that different from what you and I were when we first began our careers. As a pastor or church leader, it is our responsibility to not only lead but develop the leadership potential in these younger leaders.
As a pastor or church leader, it is our responsibility to not only lead but develop the leadership potential in these younger leaders. If we don’t attract younger people to our staff, we run the risk of losing our awareness of the culture around us. And if we are to eventually pass the baton to the next generation, there must be someone there to accept it, or all of the progress we are busy making for the kingdom now will die with us.
Working with and leading Millennials has its challenges. Unless we are aware of how they think and act differently from ourselves, we may not be equipped to lead them effectively. Staff turnover in a church can be costly. Not only in the financial aspect of recruiting and training a replacement, but in the psychological aspect how it affects your congregation. A high turnover rate in your staff can create doubts about your leadership. Your members may begin to lack trust in your leadership. It can also create a sense of instability and burnout for existing staff members who have to pick up the slack in the interim. Besides, study after study shows that happy employees are more productive, energetic, and loyal. So how do we keep our Millennials on staff happy? Here are 5 ways to boost their happiness factor:
- Give them a clear vision. Millennials have big goals and even bigger dreams. They will not invest their time or energy in a church if it doesn’t have a big vision for the future. Craig Groeschel said, “If your vision doesn’t compel, move or stir people, your vision is too small.” Millennials have witnessed a powerful God doing great things through normal people. You should be able to clearly communicate the vision for your church to your staff. If you can’t communicate the vision, Millennials won’t follow. They will find someplace that is worthy of their time and energy.
- Give them autonomy. No one likes to be micromanaged – inside or outside the church. This is especially true of Millennials. Millennials believe that not only can they change the world, they will! They have confidence in their abilities and value the respect that comes from being empowered to do their jobs. If your staff doesn’t feel they have the freedom to do their jobs without someone looking over their shoulders, they will leave. It’s that simple. They will leave because they know they are capable of more.
- Give them recognition. Everyone likes to be recognized for a job well done. This is one of those areas where a good pastor can be a bad boss. Your staff needs to know that their contribution to the ministry is valued and recognized. Millennials are no different. In fact, they place a high value on uniqueness. They don’t want to be labeled or placed in a box with others. They are unique individuals and expect to be recognized as such. If they don’t receive recognition for what they do, it gives the impression that we don’t value their contribution to the organization as individuals.
- Allow them input. Although they value uniqueness, Millennials recognize the power of collaboration. They value a team environment more than an individual one. When decisions are made behind closed doors then passed down to them, it causes them to feel devalued and marginalized. They have the responsibility they have because they have shown some aptitude or knowledge in a certain area of ministry. When decisions are made without allowing them to provide input, you are telling them that you don’t value their expertise. You may not say it out loud, but you are communicating it clearly nonetheless.
- Give them flexibility. Millennials blur the lines between areas of life that are black and white to the rest of us. For example, I work from 9-5. The time before 9 am is my personal time. Time after 5 pm is my personal time, as are the weekends. Millennials see it differently. Time is time. To them, we should be no more upset by them checking social media or texting a friend during “work hours” as we would by them making business calls from their home after “work hours.” They perceive this as an artificial boundary. They have grown up using the internet and they know how to get work done regardless of where they are or what time it is. Their expectation is that their location or the time of day should not matter as much as what they are doing. Being flexible with work hours, time off and even location are important things to consider when leading Millennials.
In light of this, are there areas in which you need to make changes? Do you have other ideas for keeping your team happy? I’d love to hear them!