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The Nuances of Millennials - Get Ahead of the Curve
The Nuances of Millennials - Get Ahead of the Curve

Managing Millennials

Millennials and Generation Z are the future of your organization. As Baby Boomers (b. 1943/46-1964) retire, you must dip into younger generations for replacements; however, Generation X (b.1964-1980) is a small generation and cannot provide enough talent to fill the vacancies left by departing Boomers. You need Millennials (b. 1980-1995) and Generation Z (b. 1995-2010) employees for the continued growth and profits of your organization.

Who Are the Millennials?

The Millennial generation is an optimistic, exuberant group of young people. They are techno-literate and are constantly plugged into the internet. Raised by helicopter parents who lavished praise on everything they did, they are extremely confident in how good they are and believe that they should move up the organization quickly regardless of their lack of experience and workplace skills. Because Millennials did everything on teams and in cohorts growing up, they work well with others and respond well to a coaching managerial style.

What Millennials Bring to the Workplace

  • Enthusiastic and eager to learn—if it’s not too hard or takes too long—Millennials like tackling new challenges and developing new skills. Make directions interesting, use visual tools, and communicate context. Explaining why a process or policy is necessarily makes it seem less arbitrary and will help them understand its importance.
  • Collaborative and excellent team players, Millennials work best in groups where they can share ideas and solutions. However, they may need coaching to take more of a leadership role on the team.
  • Creative and clever, Millennials like coming up with novel solutions to problems and excel at using technology to streamline activities. Leverage their digital expertise to make your team more productive.

The Challenges Millennials Bring to the Workplace

  • Millennials are not just multi-taskers, they are mega-taskers. It is almost impossible to get them to slow down and focus on one action at a time. Help them to understand that concentrated attention makes them much more productive and is much faster in the long run.
  • They get bored fast! Avoid lengthy anything—conversations, instructions, meetings, and so on. Be brief and get to the point. If something will take longer than 15 or twenty minutes, explain why and set their expectations. Let them take short breaks to make the time seem to go faster.
  • Millennials want results and will bypass processes and procedures with abandon. If anything seems “stupid,” they will ignore it. Remember, the watch word for this generation is, “Why not?” Anything is possible, and they will do just about anything. Give them clear boundaries and reasons for things.

Younger generations present unique challenges for managers and leadership. Next month, I will focus on Gen Z, which has some similarities to Millennials, but is very different in many ways. You can’t assume that what works for Millennials will work for Gen Z.