#MWords in Manatee County, FL

Posted on October 31, 2017

By Kylie Bayer-Fertterer, Tualatin Hills Park & Recreation District
Happy Halloween! I was going to make this a David S. Pumpkins themed post but I refrained. Any questions?
Last week I attended my first ICMA conference in San Antonio, TX! On the second day of the conference, I planted myself in a session about engaging millennials in city government. Assuming the session would be the same old “millennials are killing this!” or “millennials are killing that!” I was at the ready to clap back on my favorite social media site: Twitter. The clap backs weren’t needed, folks!
The first two presenters were #Mwords themselves and shared thoughtful insights to attendees. I laughed as they told ironic jokes about avocados! #FunFact: the presenters were from Manatee County, Florida. Yep, there’s a MANATEE COUNTY, FLORIDA. Follow them on Twitter!
I’d like to share some thoughts I have after marinating on the session for a few days.

To get rolling on an #Mword engagement initiative Manatee County employees held a focus group with #Mwords and asked thoughtful questions about what they wanted out of their local government. I love this! If you want to host a focus group with #Mwords, I suggest making it worth their while by offering refreshments and holding the meeting somewhere those hip #Mwords hang out. Manatee County staff said they meet people where they are – coffee shop, pub, park, or another popular spot in the community. Call up a local pub and see if they’d be interested in hosting a community focus group. Sponsor a pub trivia night and buy a round of drinks if attendees answer focus group questions!
Follow trends! A lot of #Mwords in Manatee County are becoming interested in tiny homes. To prepare, the county is looking into zoning regulations for tiny homes. If you follow trends, go an extra step and have some preliminary information available for when those questions start being asked. This happened in my local community with food carts. Portland is food cart mania, it took a long time to get those regulations changed in Beaverton, the suburb where I work. It wasn’t clear if Beaverton was researching their own regulations as food carts took off 15 minutes down the highway…

Want to hire #Mwords? Host a career fair! Manatee County hosted a career fair aimed at millennials. Division directors attended so job-seeking #Mwords could meet the county leadership face to face. #FunFact: this is probably a good idea for *any* job seeker. People want to meet organizational leaders when they’re on the job hunt!

Watch your language. I’m not talking about swearing (though I could use that reminder…) I’m talking about acronyms and local government speak. Communicate clearly and spell out your damn acronyms. (see what I did there?) This is important when hiring #Mwords and when engaging with #Mwords in city initiatives.

For #Mword hiring, manage expectations in the interview. The first audience question at the conference session was (I’m paraphrasing here…) “How do I as a manager, deal with millennials who have hurt feelings when I ask them to complete their work?” The presenter handled the response beautifully by reminding the audience that not all millennial employees are lazy and worthless and sometimes you need to help employees move on to other opportunities that better suit them. The presenter also mentioned that as a hiring manager, you have the responsibility to manage employee expectations in the interview process and probationary period. If someone (millennial or not) ain’t cutting the mustard, send them on their way. Reminder, anyone can be lazy and worthless regardless of their age.
That’s a wrap for today’s buzz! Have more thoughts on everyones favorite generation to hate on? Know what industry those pesky #Mwords want to kill next? Let me know Twitter! Don’t call me, millennials killed phone calls last week.


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