Why management should help forge clear career paths for millennials

Younger workers may need more guidance and coaching to develop their career path

By Sathee Brent,

Whether millennials are just getting started in the workforce or are already seasoned professionals in the sales industry, managers still have plenty to teach these younger workers. As part of the sales performance management process for millennials, employers should consider how they will develop the skills and knowledge of these workers. Not only does careful skills development management help improve the company's competitiveness and prepare its workforce for the long-haul, employees are more likely to leave office satisfied. 

The Society for Human Resource Management highlighted in its latest employee engagement report that compensation and pay overall was the leading contributor of worker job satisfaction with 6 in 10 employees citing this aspect of the workplace. Although it's no surprise pay is the biggest part of job satisfaction, there are other factors employers should look into to boost productivity and engagement, namely opportunities for professional development and advancement.

Four in 10 workers said they valued chances to move ahead of their career as part of job satisfaction, according to the 2014 Employee Job Satisfaction and Engagement report. Through helping millennials generate the skills they need to succeed in the industry, managers can also coach and prep them for upward movement in their career. 

Here are three ways to help millennials with planning their career path:

1. Provide meaningful feedback
As millennials try to navigate the workforce or move up in their career, they will likely ask for comments on the quality of their work and performance. 

In an interview with The New York Times, Jeff Lawson, CEO of cloud communications firm Twilio, explained why millennials are the generation that most craves feedback from employers and why his firm doesn't conduct performance reviews just once a year. 

"They want to always be learning, always be growing, and they're looking for that constant feedback," Lawson told the Times. "It's not that they're looking for constant praise, but rather they want to keep score. They want to know how they're doing."

Through keeping in close contact with millennials and using sales performance management software, managers can more easily give younger workers the feedback they need to adjust their behavior in the workplace and keep on track with meeting business goals. 

2. Coach and mentor based on staff needs
According to the SHRM survey, 36 percent of workers cared about the organization's commitment to professional development, which is also a big factor in job satisfaction for many workers, especially millennials. Managers should consider how they can better coach and mentor young workers to prepare them for career growth. 

Another study by professional staffing services firm Addison Group found millennials often wanted their managers to be a part of their professional development. The report showed 36 percent of millennial workers prioritized this more than other generations. However, it's not just millennials who feel strongly about the role managers play in their professional development. About 3 in 10 workers felt the same way in associating their professional growth with working with a manager. 

"Millennials need and want in terms of managerial style, rewards and leadership opportunities, the more successful employees can be, not to mention the benefits employers can reap from an employee retention standpoint," the Addison Group report said. 

3. Plan salary increases and promotions
As millennials also need a source of motivation to stay on track with their career trajectory, companies should ensure they are providing workers with adequate incentive compensation. Not only do incentives like merit increases engage workers, it can also be used as a way to provide feedback for their work performance, recognizing them for their work. Firms could measure millennial worker performance with sales effectiveness metrics to make more accurate decisions regarding promotions and pay increases.

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Sathee Brent