Julia Langkraehr’s Blog


How to manage millennials

There is a lot of noise around at the moment about how to manage millennials.

But what exactly is a millennial? When I canvassed the team in the office, the one person we thought was a millennial – our office assistant – did not identify as one.

She described them as “following the latest trend”, “high maintenance”, “seeking approval through social media” and “shallow.”

She felt that they are afraid of showing who they really are, being themselves and it’s hard to have a genuine conversation about things that matter with them.

Although she is officially a millennial (Wikipedia defines them as having been born between 1981 to 1996 – 22 to 37 year olds), she believes it’s become more a description of a type of person than simply being defined by the dates you were born.

I’m always concerned when you try to use gross generalisations for a generation which has different personalities, upbringings, values and beliefs.

Therefore I am trying to offer an insight based on my personal experience and a small sample size.

I have the privilege and opportunity to work with 18-28 year olds doing peer group training.

My experience with training these millennials in a confidential environment has been interesting, thought provoking and incredibly rewarding.

The millennials I have worked with and taken the time to listen to and understand, are extremely socially and ecologically conscious – they care about the environment and are worried about its future, and the equality and divide we are seeing in the world today.

However, they are a really stressed generation. They blame this on constant connectivity and social pressure – and what I learned is that they are really into travel experiences which disconnect them and allow them to experience nature and undeveloped parts of the world.

What does this mean for you as a business owner?

With more and more millennials entering the workforce, you will need to learn how to understand them, attract them, engage them and manage them.

  1. Millennials need to be connected to the purpose and why of what they’re doing.

When you have a millennial who matches your core values and the skillset of their role, they can be incredibly efficient, clever and productive. However, they want to know that the work they are doing is connected to the purpose of the business, is valuable and not just an exercise.

When they’re asked to do a project and they deliver, and then it gets sidelined when other priorities take over, it demotivates and disconnects them.

This could be why they are sometimes regarded as having bad attitudes; the cause could be that they may disagree with the assignment or its priority and its importance to the business. It has to make sense to them.

Millennials are an immediate, instant generation, they have a sense of urgency so when you give them something to do, they want to see the impact.

A point to consider when managing them is that when they’re connected to the purpose and cause of the business, they’re willing to work very hard and perform.

I think managing millennials will demand more of bosses and leaders, who will need to have clear direction, be clear on priorities, and clear on deadlines. I believe they will hold senior people to what they say, and want them to be accountable.

  1. Millennials enter a firm with high expectations of growth and flexibility.

As more millennials move into the workforce, it’s becoming clear they are looking for the opportunity to grow with a firm that will invest in their personal growth and skills development.

They want to know that the company and their leader will invest time, attention, resources and training, and will give them the right technology and tools to do the job.

It is important to be able to articulate or show forward growth in roles and responsibilities for millennials.

For example, when our office assistant joined, we communicated a clear path for development, improvement, training and growth. We have invested in further education for her, including sending her on a maths course, and supporting her to gain qualifications in Business Administration. We have set a clear path which includes one-to-one training, shadowing and a goal for what we would like her to achieve.

When managing millennials, leaders need to:

  • build a relationship
  • be decisive and consistent
  • speak from facts and numbers
  • be clear with expectations
  • measure performance based on results
  • give immediate and consistent feedback with specific examples

In conclusion, learning how to manage millennials is crucial for employers and entrepreneurs – to benefit from their energy and ideas, they need to attract, retain and engage them. 

For more advice and support on how to make your #businessvision a reality and achieve success, contact us on +44 (0)7795 667480.