10 Effective Ways to Manage Millennials

26 June 2018 Brijesh Mongia


Generation Me. Generation We. The Net Generation. Echo Boomers. Global Generation. Generation Next.

Millennials, who?

Comprising of the largest workforces, millennials are the youngest generation at work who have brought in a spectrum of culture with their eccentric enthusiasm and a thirst for knowledge and have managed challenge the concrete foundation of Boom Generation (born between 1946 and 1964) and Generation X (born between 1954 and 1980). Often questioning the ‘how’, ‘why’, ‘where’, and ‘what’ of everything, millennials often appear as a set of individuals who are lethargic, entitled, narcissistic, fallible, immature and carefree.

It is often concluded that they are to be entrusted with less responsibility and be excluded from important discussions or perhaps given lesser training. Conversely, the above actions lead to lower motivation and job satisfaction which is the bait for millennials. As much as they influence the world around them, millennials are in turn influenced by multiple factors in their life, their work environment, relationships with their managers (some of which may belong to an older generation), peers, external market trends, technology and so on. Therefore, if millennials are driven and managed in the right direction, it brings out the much-needed fruitful results of an organization.

Combining Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation

“Put some Ants in Their Pants.”

Millennials today are inclined towards non-rudimentary, creative tasks because of which incentives prove detrimental. The idea is to keep intrinsic motivation at the core of the motivation agenda and keep extrinsic motivation like adequate pay, increments, bonuses and other prerequisites at the periphery. The reason being that, the carrot-stick approach might prove inadequate as the stick becomes the primary tool for engagement, and as a result, a manager might lose control of command-and-control style of management. A workplace driven to maximize autonomy and purpose sets the right precedent to encourage intrinsic motivation. Remember, autonomy and accountability go hand in hand and meaningful goals create the fire for greater performance.

Creating an Authentic Culture

“In a volatile and ever-changing world, values lead the way.”

Millennials are digital natives and have grown up in an era pertaining to transparency powered by social networking. An apparent trait of the millennials is that they look up to the internet as an open platform where there is a seamless and transparent exchange of ideas and information. Taking clues from this pattern, organizations can aspire to be more open in their culture in terms of giving the millennial workforce a greater voice and let the bottom-up culture to emerge over time. A culture which is highly engaging enables quick and efficient decision-making, encourages innovation creates a domino-effect of a great workplace culture whose bedrock is strong beliefs and value systems which does not start and end with the CEO but has a ripple effect throughout. When values continuously turn into actions across all levels of a company, it creates the precedent of an authentic workplace experience which attracts millennials cohort, who in turn become its custodians.

Be Mentors, Not Bosses

Mentoring is a two-way street; you get out what you put in.”

Millennials do not respond well to rigid protocols or display of supremacy. They, by default, renounce the traditional structure of authority. This resides in the roots of their upbringing, being of a permissive and negligent demeanor. For the same reason, millennials need their leaders to be approachable, encouraging and guiding them through their rights and wrongs. Managers should cautiously withdraw their authority power and take on a role of a mentor.

A Sense of Belonging

Millennials are observant of their seniors. For this, managers are required to earn the respect and trust of millennials through their professional prestige and consistency of their actions. To incorporate this horizontal workforce, a more collaborative culture is required. An intricately crafted, open and collaborative system breaks down the vertical organizational silos. Incorporating co-working spaces and incubators showcases a sense of community and prosocial culture which gives millennials a sense of oneness, belonging, and a purpose to achieve a unified goal.

Money- No Bait

Though watchful, today’s generation does not treat money alone as an incentive to work at an organization. They rather prefer mobility, geographically and between assignments, opportunity to meet new people, a relaxed atmosphere, and the scope to try out their ideas. Millennials seek to interact with new people, mentors, and teams and have a knack for learning more. For them, the vertical promotion does not alone suffice as they seek for jobs which offer a variety of enriching experiences too. Further, baits like flexible work hours, discounts, telecommuting, cafeteria coupons and additional days off often work are often loved and favored by millennials. 

Associate and Benefit from their Quirkiness

Life is what happens to you while you are looking at your cell-phone.”

This generation is a natural at promoting themselves publicly and building images and stories from their personal and professional experiences (Instagram, for example). This has made them a powerful medium for marketing and communication, be it for the better or worse. What you can do is convert the social leaders amongst the millennial employees to brand ambassadors. How? By making them an integral part of employer branding activities, making them a spokesperson for the company on social media or taking them to job fairs. It is all about using their attributes to the company’s benefit effectively.

A Need to Be Recognised

Social media platform is one such place where millennials blatantly share their experiences and project themselves in a certain way. This need for recognition does not limit to social media but extends to the workplace; not only from their bosses but also and especially from their peers. To leverage this feature, a company can organize quarterly awards to recognise the hard work put in by the millennial employees and drive them to deliver better and more.

 Don’t Disconnect with Technology

Opening up to digital space is acknowledging the coming of a new order.”

While millennials come from the hometown of technology, instead of shying away from it, companies should play the game ball of tech and social media. For example, inverse mentoring programs could helper the older employees to learn from millennials’ technological skills. Evaluating new purchases and technological developments can be a benefit to the others, from the tech-savvy generation.

Work-life Balance

Millennials are all about maintaining a work-life balance because this enables them to feel a greater sense of control over their life which allows them to have better relationships with management. Things like attending to work post office hours, working on weekends, giving up their social life, etc., does not gel well with millennials. When employees adapt to a balanced work-life, they are not only motivated but are less stressed out at work but and engage in lesser conflicts amongst co-workers or management.  

Constant Feedback

I don’t divide the world into the weak and the strong, or the successes and the failures, those who make it or those who don’t. I divide the world into learners and non-learners. “

-      Benjamin. R. Barber

Millennials are goal setters and highly driven individuals. Instead of the age-old annual review, they resonate with constant feedback. Does this mean you are required to be incessantly transparent with them? Yes. They appreciate continuous and honest feedbacks which helps them learn, understand and formulate their work process better. After all, they too are all about succeeding and winning.

The arrival of Millennials in the workforce arena can be a challenge, but it is also an opportunity in disguise. Managers from the preceding generation can learn more about the current world we live in and implementation of on-going trends and polish their decision-making skills. Millennials are here to stay; it’s all about how to invest in them accurately to make the most of it.