Human Resources



For the first time in history, four generations are now working side by side in the workplace. Organizations, large and small, are trying to balance the generation gap of more than 50 years in their work teams.

The newest generation in the workplace, Millennials (born 1981-1999), are also the fastest growing segment, and will make up approximately 50% of the workforce by the year 2020. Millennials are unlike previous generations both in how they view the world and define success, personally and professionally. In many cases, this has led to misunderstanding among the different generations existing in today’s workplace.

One of the key challenges facing leaders is how to motivate and manage this unique generation. Millennials have developed work characteristics and tendencies from engaged parents, structured home and school lives, and contact with diverse people and technology. Some tips on how to successfully engage and manage your Millennial team members include:

  • LISTEN: Millennials are used to and have a need to feel heard. They tend to feel unappreciated when their thoughts or opinions are ignored. Make sure you take the time sincerely to ask for their opinions/contributions.
  • STRUCTURE: Providing a work environment in which there are clear due dates, hours, agendas and regular meetings along with clearly defined goals and measures of success will help with the transition from school to the workplace.
  • FEEDBACK: Millennials thrive on knowing, at all times, how they’re performing and how they can improve. Providing timely, effective feedback goes a long way with motivating millennials to take it to the next level.
  • TEAMWORK: Millennials are comfortable working with teams and are used to working in diverse groups of people. Take advantage of their unique ability to collaborate and accomplish more and better results as a team.
  • BALANCE: Multitasking and finding time for numerous activities, commitments and spending time with family and friends is very important to millennials. Allow for flexibility and work-life balance and you’ll likely find that they are more committed and engaged while at work.

A little insight into the experiences and values of the Millennial generation can not only help you better understand expectations and needs of your team members, but also help you to capitalize on the unique talents they bring to the table!

(Please keep in mind the demographic generalizations are meant to help with understanding trends, and not specific situations or people. It’s important to understand the unique needs and motivations of each individual along with the information provided above). 

2 comments on “Managing and Motivating Millennials

  1. Mahlia,
    I’m curious as to your view of this not being so much as a generational difference and more of a basic human need of authentic connections. Plus, I feel the basic human needs have been the same from generation to generation and the sense of the gap is our better understanding of that human need and how we meet it. I’m coming at this in the contexts of Strengths Finder 2.0 and how to apply those strengths effectively for better results performance) in the workplace.
    Looking forward to your view on my opinion…
    Dan

  2. Dan,
    Thank you for your thoughtful comments and insight. If I’m understanding your perspective correctly – I also agree there’s much more than just ‘generational differences’ at play when it comes to communicating and being productive in the workplace. There’s also an element of personality, communication style or individual ‘strengths’ that greatly impact how we interact and connect with one another. The exact terminology may differ depending on the tools or literature you’re familiar with, however my belief is that we need recognize both our own as well as others’ indiviudal strengths and how those tendancies impact our relationships and connections with those around us, no matter what generation we’re in. Please feel free to continue to add to the conversation!

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