Managing Millennials Really Is Different

Are millennials really that different from other generations when they were first starting out?

This is one of the most common questions I’m asked and an issue I think about frequently. My conclusion is that millennials are truly different in some important ways. Their engagement with technology is an obvious difference, but more important, I think, is their desire for — and expectation of — a lot more management from their leaders. This includes coaching, communication, mentoring and feedback — and lots of it.

These recent articles offer some great tips on how to provide the kind of management millennials crave:

6 Key Principles For Managing Millennials. Business 2 Community: “Millennial employees stand out for having skill with technology. Not only are they adept at using technology, but they prefer it. No other generation has grown up steeped in technology like the Millennials have, and so what is seen as optional or gadgetry for older generations is a natural and required for Millennials. Rather than sticking with what might seem outdated, Millennials will try to inject updated technology and workflows. It will seem more efficient to them even if older employees prefer the ‘way it’s always been done.’”

How to Manage Millennials: Treat Them Like Adults. Spin Sucks: “[H]ere is what I have discovered about Millennials: If you set the rules, tell them what they are and what you expect, they will succeed. If you leave it loosey-goosey and let them decide how to work, they will falter. Not saying everyone in this age group will, but that’s been my experience. If you need to have your parents help you negotiate your salary or your promotion, that is the first step on your way out the door…and everyone here knows it. It doesn’t matter if you’re Millennial, Gen X, or a Baby Boomer. If you tell me your mom said you deserve a raise or that your parents have stopped paying your credit card bills so you need a raise to cover them—both have actually happened—you can pretty much guarantee I’ll show you the door.”

Managing Millennials. Payroll World: “It’s true that people going into the workforce now, who were born into a society more like today’s one, are very different to Baby Boomers or Veterans, who perhaps used little technology in their early working lives, believed that they had a ‘job for life’ if they worked hard and were also quite reverential to an organisation’s hierarchy. But all of us are now far more aware of technology and reputational issues. There is a general move away from a ‘job for life’, or having just a single career, courtesy of the instability of many organisations and the resulting inability of employers to offer job security. As jobs have become less secure, so individuals’ expectations have changed.”

Get the Recognition You Deserve: Manage Yourself. LinkedIn: “One thing I’ve recently noticed is how Millennials look for different things from Generation X in the workplace. They want deeper feedback and assessment, with an eye toward holistic personal development and multiple options. They hold strong expectations that they will be immediately rewarded for their hard work. They work fast, and produce a lot, but it may not be as detailed as their Gen X and Boomer bosses want it. As this new generation of employees enters the professional workforce, we need to put them in a position to get the feedback we know they want. Let’s stop complaining about Millennials as too high-maintenance to manage, and give them the tools they need to manage themselves.”

How do you manage millennials in the workplace? Or, if you are a Millennial, how do you prefer to be managed? I’d love to know — please share in the comments!

Share this post

hi, i'm lindsey!

Lindsey is a globally recognized career and workplace expert and the leading voice on generational diversity. She has spoken for more than 300 audiences including Google, Goldman Sachs, Estee Lauder, Stanford and Wharton. Lindsey is the author of four career and workplace advice books, and her insights have appeared in media outlets including The TODAY Show, CNBC, NPR, the Harvard Business Review and the Wall Street Journal.


Learn 25 Practical Ways to Manage Across Generations