A Generation Decoded: How to Work with Millennials

DEAR READERS: In 2013, the “Gen Y Workplace Expectations” study from Millennial Branding and American Express found that managers had an overall negative view of their young employees. I keep hearing that same thing today: Many managers say they have a hard time working with millennials because these younger employees approach work differently than those of us who entered the workforce decades ago. What are some of the most important things to know about working with members of this younger generation?

“More so than any previous generation, millennials want to do work that they are good at and that produces results that matter deeply to them,” says Ken Coleman, host of The Ken Coleman Show (kencolemanshow . com) and the EntreLeadership Podcast, and author of “One Question: Life-Changing Answers from Today’s Leading Voices.”

He continues, “It is important to understand that millennials enter the workforce with the mindset that they will move from job to job over the course of their career. They look at work as a temporary opportunity that will lead to the next opportunity.”

Froswa’ Booker-Drew, Ph.D., owner/operator of Soulstice Consultancy and author of “Rules of Engagement: Making Connections Last,” speaks from experience: She works with several millennials and supervises one.

“Millennials are craving, in my opinion, wisdom and mentoring. They are seeking individuals who will take the time to share with them and not belittle their generation for what they don’t know or what they do wrong,” Booker-Drew says. “They do have a different work ethic, and that is based on the influences that they experience, which are very different than previous generations.”

As both experts note, today’s young workers have grown up with round-the-clock access to information and have never really known life without the internet, cellphones, apps and social media platforms.

“With the constant flow of information, it is easy for them to get distracted or bored. It is going to be important for supervisors to serve in roles that are more like coaches than as dictators,” Booker-Drew says.

Coleman concurs. “They crave constant feedback from leaders because they want to advance. They will not stay where they cannot see a ladder,” says Coleman. “According to Forbes, 87 percent of millennials say professional and career growth opportunities are very important [to them].”

Remembering your own experiences back in the day is also a good idea.

“I remember being treated as if I didn’t know anything early in my career. I may not have had a lot of experience, but I did have things to bring to the table that were innovative,” Booker-Drew says. “Millennials need opportunities to share their ideas and to experience some level of trust and freedom to do the work. Regular check-ins and opportunities to participate in brainstorming at early phases of project development are important for their insight but to also educate and train them,” she concludes.


(Article written by By Kathleen Furore)