Managing the Millennials 

Millennials are defined as the children of baby boomers. By 2020 they will make up 20% of the global workforce. Do they expect to be managed differently? Yes, more engaged, more involved and more valued. They may appear to welcome the demise of the traditional corporate culture with its emphases on hierarchy and time served in favour of a more sink or swim culture where its possible to rise very rapidly. But they still want support and structure as many are concerned that the pace of change can make their organisation feel confusing and appear chaotic. 

To those who say youth was always impatient, favours the new over the old, gets frustrated that they have something to say and no one is listening and expects rewards to come more quickly I say harness the energy and enthusiasm. Otherwise you may lose out. 

Millennials as a generation are just following a well established trend the difference is that as the pace of change has become so much faster the rate at which the next generations expectations change is also much faster. 

What can we take from what we currently do that would be valued by the millennials? Mentoring for all. Delegation when ever possible. Communication to inform all. (not need to know).Responsibility as grow not once promoted. 

Millennials like the rest of us need support and guidance but even more so in a sink or swim culture. Rather than look to the traditional line manager as their predecessors would have, they need to be provided with a mentor who may or may not work for the same organisation. It does not have to be someone with a back ground in their field of work , better if it isn’t, because this is not about technical or professional advice but people skills, managing your career and avoiding corporate potholes.

Millennials are confident sometimes over confident they demand more responsibility and expect a culture of delegation, its sink or swim after all so how can they prove themselves if not thrown in. Of course there needs to be management over sight, no point in setting people up to fail, but don’t hold the individual back just because the group has yet to catch up. 

Millennials don’t accept the need to know philosophy of management info. If they have a question they expect an answer. So for instance if informed of a decision they would expect to be told the thinking behind this decision not simply told senior management have decided. This of course is not about whether they agree with the rational but to ensure they understand it. 

Much of how you manage millennials is about existing best practise but as HR know there is often a gap between theory and practice.

Blair Mcpherson former Director, author and blogger 



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