Managing Millennials

Career Blog

As a Gen Xer I find it amusing that both my generational colleagues, and more often Baby Boomers, discuss how to handle the Gen Y crowd like they would a batch of spent nuclear fuel. Perhaps it’s my inner latchkey kid talking, but I just don’t understand all the fuss. Yes, they grew up with technology. Yes. They were given trophies for breathing in and out consistently near a sporting event. And yes, they have a different view of rewards, work/life balance, and everything else, from social responsibility to professional development. But in the end, they’re simply another batch of humans in our ever-evolving workforce.

So fear not, my ever-adulting brethren. Despite their alarming numbers and remarkably nimble thumbs, Millennials, like Earth itself, are mostly harmless. If you find yourself managing them or any mixture of alphabet soup humanity that followed, get the most out of the working relationship with these simple guidelines:

  1. Don’t Generalize: There may be some truthiness to certain stereotypes…but not always. While several traits are typically associated with Millennials, not all will apply to everyone. The nuance of personal style always trumps the vagaries of the cultural or generational monikers, so get to know the people you are actually managing. Use tools like Situational Leadership to gauge what they need as individuals, or better yet, ask them.
  2. Delegate Whole Projects: Don’t waffle. If you intend to delegate something, do so. If you don’t feel they are up for the challenge, switch gears and delegate intact project parts to give them a feeling of ownership. Then let them know you are around for support if needed.
  3. Provide Face Time: They, like most, want to see the results of their efforts and be rewarded. Let them play a part in presenting the findings.
  4. Share the Big Picture: Most people like to be involved – to understand and have some control over the work that they perform. Take time to explain how their efforts tie to the boarder strategy or goals. Share your vision and tie their efforts to a greater good. Work has to have meaning.
  5. Let them fly…with a Net: Creativity, collaboration, and enthusiasm are hot commodities. Give them runway to use those tendencies, but establish a trusting relationship so they know they are supported. 

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