Five Hacks for Managing a Millennial

Feb 26th, 2016 // Permalink

Millennials get a bad rep for being lazy, entitled and difficult in the workplace. Unfortunately, this can reflect poorly come review time, not to mention be frustrating for managers. That said, some admit Millennials are the most collaborative and inclusive generation of all. So how do we bring the best qualities of this coveted generation into the workplace?

Here are five hacks every manager should try with Millennials.

  1. Take Baby Steps. Look for ways to help Millennials practice leadership skills, no matter how small. Start early so they are ready to step up to the plate sooner. Provide clear direction and feedback. Let them own their role and don’t forget to lay a clear path during goal-setting meetings, which, by the way, should happen more than once a year.
  2. Break the “Helicopter” Culture. While helicopter parenting might work at home, there’s no room for it in a professional setting. Millennials are arguably the most protected and praised generation of all. When setting professional development goals, make sure they are SMART – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time sensitive. Don’t be afraid to tie these goals to business objectives. It will help the Millennial feel they are part of a shared, collective goal.
  3. Think Vertical. Focus professional trainings on your Millennials’ vertical development, concentrating on the stages one goes through as he or she has the ability to think in more complex, strategic and interdependent ways. Often, companies offer trainings that help staff add new skills and knowledge, such as writing media materials and developing budgets. Keep those, but include a focus on trainings that address managing up, building leadership qualities, etc.
  4. Favor Collaborative Models. Drop hierarchical leadership models. Millennials are motivated by democratic (or collective) leadership and collegiality to achieve a common goal, whether for a client or business challenge.
  5. Provide Structure. Millennials are used to being raised in highly structured environments and therefore may have less confidence in themselves. Encourage them to think, analyze and follow their curiosity, versus throwing them into the fire. Remember, baby steps.
  6. Bonus Hack. For those who have read this far, here’s one more hack for managing a millennial: there’s no need to praise every small accomplishment or micro manage. Millennials, just like the generations before them, need inspiration, confidence and a splash of guidance to help them grow and perform. Too much handholding may stifle.

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