5 Tips for Managing Millennials

Kavitha Cherian
June 10, 2016
5 Tips for Managing Millennials 5 Tips for Managing Millennials The American workforce is going through a systemic change with millennials accounting for the majority of the workforce. The estimated 53.5 million millennials in the workforce are only expected to grow as millennials currently enrolled in college graduate and begin working. As millennials start replacing baby boomers in your workforce, managers will need to develop new engagement models that cater to the generational differences between baby boomers and millennials. Though millennials are often given a bad rap for being the “entitled generation” they are also characterized by their ambitious goals and commitment to the organizations they work for. Millennials want to be led and it's in the best interest of their managers to support their goals and leverage their strengths.

Here are a five tips to attract, retain and motivate millennials:

  1. Listening vs. Defending: Millennials have ideas and opinions, and don't take kindly to having their thoughts ignored. Ask them a lot of questions to understand in detail their point of view; the thinking, facts, and data behind it; do they have conviction. You can only test that by pushing them. Do not get defensive or turned off by those that have a different point of view but engage them.
  2. Affirmation vs. Direction: Millennials have developed work characteristics and tendencies from doting parents heaping them with praise and building up their own sense of self-worth. For Millennials, work must have meaning. They won't commit to you or the organization unless they are assured that they are adding value to the organization. Affirmation in this context is about engagement, listening, caring, and being empathetic. You signal that you value them, and when you value them through affirmation it builds a productive relationship as opposed to one by merely directing them.
  3. Manage vs. Micromanage: Millennials want structure but do not want to be micromanaged, therefore you will need to establish a predictable management rhythm. Ensure to re-establish about 5-6 key metrics and then 3-5 sub-metrics that are correctly driving actions which produce the desired outcomes. Once you have figured out what matters to the exclusion of everything else, you can then begin to think about the rhythm that you want to use to measure it.
  4. Consistent Feedback vs. Annual Reviews: Millennials want feedback. They want it consistently not just during annual performance reviews. Make an effort to engage in meaningful and productive conversations with them on a regular basis. Be impactful! Be honest, but do not be cruel. Paint the picture for where the position is headed in the future so that you can help people grow and evolve. Also, ensure to provide context-rich feedback, use real examples as context and content when giving feedback.
  5. Work Fun: Millennials want to enjoy their work. You should be worried if they aren’t going out with workplace friends for lunch or helping plan the next company event. You need to create that inclusive work environment.
As this generation continues to enter the workforce, these tips will help managers cultivate the strengths of this generation encouraging the leaders of tomorrow.
Featured in: Workforce Flexibility

About the Author

Kavitha Cherian

Kavitha Cherian is an Associate at Spencer Stuart. Previously she was a consultant with The Miles Group, focusing on the firm’s executive assessment and succession work. She has broad experience in financial services, management consulting, and macroeconomics research roles in the United States and Asia. Prior to joining The Miles Group, Kavitha served as an associate with TD Bank in New York, where she was responsible for corporate credit management.

Kavitha holds an MBA from The Wharton School and a Master’s degree in International Studies from The University of Pennsylvania. She earned her bachelor’s degree from St. Stephen’s College, Delhi University with honors in economics.

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