Why Managing Millennials in the Workplace Is a Lot Easier Than Most People Think

by Mar 1, 2018

To hear most people tell it, Millennials in the workplace are a source of constant stress. We’re told they expect too much and want to work too little.

Have you heard this before?

Has it affected your management decisions?

Do you worry that Millennials in the workplace will result in more problems than profits?


3 Tips That Will Help You Better Manage Millennials in the Workplace

If any of those concerns sound familiar, I’m happy to tell you that you need not worry. Managing Millennials in the workplace is much easier than most people think. Once you learn the three reasons why, you’ll also find that managing them correctly will produce exceptional results for your company.


1. Most of the Criticism Is Overblown

The first reason that managing Millennnials in the workplace is easier than most people think is because the criticism you keep hearing about them is largely without base.

Back in 2013, Time Magazine got the ball rolling on this rumor by declaring Millennials the “Me Me Me Generation” right on their cover.

As Elspeth Reeve later pointed out, every generation thinks the one that comes after them is self-obsessed and needy. Millennials are receiving the same criticism. It’s just that now it’s happening in the Internet Age when social media can spread these critiques far and wide over and over again. Anecdotal stories can spring up often enough that they seem like the standard.

Reeve’s article goes on to list headlines going as far back as 1907 that show the skepticism with which older generations always view the younger has been an ongoing issue.

Furthermore, there’s even scientific data that vindicates Millennials. The study, “It Is Developmental Me, Not Generation Me” proved that there, “is no increase in narcissism in college students over the last few decades. Second, we show, in contrast, that age changes in narcissism are both replicable and comparatively large in comparison to generational changes in narcissism.”

Simply put, people born in the 80s and 90s are not more likely to be self-obsessed.


2. They Love Technology

It should come as no surprise that Millennials love technology. Many members of this generation can’t remember a time before the Internet. Soon, the same will be true for those who have never known life without a smartphone.

Your company needs to embrace technology or risk being put out of business by a competitor who does.

While I’m not saying you need to lay off older generations, Millennials are clearly more comfortable with technology. Here is the percentage of each generation that believes technology is making life easier:

  • Millennials: 74%
  • Generation X: 31%
  • Baby Boomers: 18%

In short, the ease with which you’re able to manage Millennials in the workplace will depend largely on the technology you provide them.


3. They Want Leadership Opportunities

If you’ve worked in management for any amount of time, you know what an advantage it is to have employees who are self-motivated and able to accepted delegated tasks. These are also the employees you can nurture into your company’s future leaders.

The vast majority of Millennials in your workplace want to become leaders. It’s not by a small margin, either. 91% of them aspire to be a leader in their companies.

While that certainly means they’ll be easier to manage if you use leadership opportunities as an incentive, that doesn’t necessarily prove they’ll actually make good leaders someday.

Fortunately, there is data that suggests Millennials may make better leaders in your company:

  • They Value Communication – 81% of Millennials value open communication, an important trait for any leader. In fact, this group also reported that they would rather work for a company that valued open communication than one that offered other perks like a gym membership, free food, and even premium health plans.
  • Authenticity Is a Priority – This may seem like an odd metric to add here, but 75% of Millennials value authenticity. If you provide Millennials with a greater purpose for the work they do, you’ll find them to be self-starters who will take action on their own. Help them develop that purpose and you’ll have a future-leader who’s easy to manage.
  • They’ll Ask “Why?” – There are definitely times when you need your staff members to simply do as you say. In the long-run, though, your company will be better off if your employees aren’t mindless automatons. This is especially true for the sake of its future leadership. Whenever possible, help your Millennial employees understand the “why” behind the tasks you want them to perform and you’ll find them more engaged.

Most Millennials in the workplace already self-identify as leaders. While it’s important that they still understand their actual role in your company’s hierarchy this is a big benefit for managers. Aside from the fact that it guarantees your organization has a long line of leaders ready to step in, it also means managing them is largely a matter of tapping into this identity. Help them connect the work they do as part of being a leader and you may not need many other incentives.

Millennials in the Workplace Have a Lot to Offer

I hope that my article has made two things very clear.

First, managing Millennials in the workplace isn’t as difficult as you may have heard. As long as you understand what makes them different than precious generations, it should actually be quite easy.

Second, adapting your management style to the Millennials on your team can have broader positive effects on your entire organization. For example, don’t you think placing a greater emphasis on open communication would improve team dynamics for workers of every age?

Finally, if you aren’t 100% satisfied with your management abilities, you will continue struggling, no matter how old your team members are.

That’s why I invite you to consider RedRock Leadership’s Take the Lead™ program, an eight-week course that will help develop the most important management skills. RedRock Leadership also offers another program, Systematic Foundation™, which was designed for those of you who want to become better salespeople and implement a better sales process in your organization.

Jeff Ruby

Jeff Ruby

Founder of RedRock Leadership

During the course of his professional career, he has worked in organizations ranging in size from a sole practitioner to Fortune 500. Included in his experience are roles in starting and selling companies, sales and sales management, training and development and executive coaching.

RedRock Leadership is a sales training and leadership development company committed to growing companies by growing individuals through on-going training infused with the competencies of emotional intelligence.