Millennial Management Mistakes to Avoid or Correct

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Millennial Management Mistakes to Avoid or Correct

Millennials (also known as Generation Y) were born between 1980 and 1995. Over one-third of American employees are Millennials. I cannot over-emphasize that Gen Y is now the largest employment group in the U.S. This means it’s essential that women leaders discover how to coach and lead Millennials. The statements below will help you understand why it’s also critical that you know how to attract Gen Y to leadership positions and prepare them to manage other people, and avoid millennial management mistakes.

  • Millennials now outnumber Generation Xers (born between 1965-1979). Gen Ys are sometimes in leadership roles in which they supervise Gen Xers who are disgruntled about answering to a younger boss.
  • Companies report being able to attract Millennials but complain they cannot engage and retain Generation Y is not responding to traditional employee motivators that predictably produced loyalty and hard work from Baby Boomers and Generation Xers.
  • Baby Boomers (born between 1946 – 1964) are retiring in record numbers. This has created a vast experience and expertise void in many companies whose managers complain ”Millennials play by new rules and we can’t find the rule book!”
  • Even though a surprising percentage of Gen Ys say they’re not interested in management positions, even if only by default, Millennials will be called to bring their technology skills and comfort with constant change into corporate leadership positions. Please integrate the following fact into your consciousness: By 2020, Generation Y will represent 40% of the workforce.
  • Some leaders complain “Millennials are entitled, lazy, can’t be motivated, not loyal,” etc., saying they don’t want to work with them. Please note: Not only will no new Gen Xers or Baby Boomers be born, Gen Y is already the largest percentage of the workforce. In the not too distant future, almost half of the workforce, plus an increasing number of managers, will be Millennials. It’s essential to stop stereotyping and judging Gen Y, identify their strengths and discover the unique benefits they can bring to your organization. Women leaders are hardwired to do this.

Millennial Management Mistakes 101: Ignore The Millennial’s Passion for a Purposeful Work Life

Although Millennials know a business must profit to stay in business, their common question is, “If we don’t support people and the planet, what’s the purpose of making a profit? Corporations should be socially responsible and give back to the communities that support them.”

If you ignore or try to reign in Gen Y’s instincts to serve The Greater Good and only focus on traditional motivations like a bigger paycheck or a promotion, Millennials will never connect their personal passions to the work they do for you and your organization. You’ll also forfeit a wellspring of creative ideas that can make work projects more productive. I just described a lose-lose arrangement that is destined to fail.

Millennial Management Mistakes 101 Remedies

If you support the altruistic passions of a Gen Y, you’ll gain their trust, engagement and loyalty. Women leaders are socially conditioned and hardwired to do this. Since most Millennials stress about fulfilling their sense of purpose:

  • Help them align their careers with their values and passion. Think creatively about how they can create an ideal Career Vision that will serve themselves and your organization.
  • Also calm their anxiety about meeting their purpose by coaching Millennials to increase their influence so they’ll have more impact and autonomy. Listen with sincere curiosity and an open mind when they describe what inspires them. Help them identify the resources they need in order to create a purposeful work life that fully engages them.

Millennial Management Mistakes 102: Offer a Job Instead of What Generation Y Really Wants

Millennials often say, “We don’t want jobs. We want lives! We want more out of life than previous generations. We also want to leave the world a better place because we lived on Earth. We want to work in collaborative teams with flexible schedules and focus on purposeful work. We’ll get our work done. In fact, we’ll leverage technology to get work done anywhere, anytime. We just need management to help us set up an entrepreneurial, collaborative culture.”

If your organization offers a traditional job instead of opportunities to co-create a plan for personal and professional development while making a contribution to The Greater Good, a Millennial may never feel connected to their work responsibilities. You’re especially disadvantaged if your organization includes any of the following:

  • a hierarchical organizational structure,
  • leadership composed of old-fashioned managers who don’t understand the unique needs, thinking patterns and assets of Millennials,
  • a traditional work culture,
  • career development opportunities that are pre-designed by management and lack a progressive or innovative focus.

Whether you like it or not, the majority of Millennials aren’t interested in climbing the corporate ladder, paying their dues and waiting patiently for a promotion they might hope to gain in the old-fashioned three to five-year time frame. If you judge Millennials instead of adapting your organization’s procedures, you’ll struggle to attract and retain Generation Y. Generally, they avoid conventional approaches and search for accelerated growth opportunities.

Another article explores how to resolve related, inherent conflicts between Gen Y and other generations. For now, let’s begin by avoiding confirmation bias. (Example: “Because I think Millennials are poor workers, I find plenty of evidence to support my belief instead of listening to their concerns and motivations so I can discover effective ways to work together.”)

Millennial Management Mistakes 102 Remedies

If you want to attract and keep good Millennial workers (and you should because your organization needs this massive group of employees and their skillsets), engage them by creating, co-creating and involving them in experiential learning and development opportunities related to their long-term goals, including opportunities to have a positive impact on society.

Millennials are usually the fastest employees to embrace modern leadership approaches, including TEAL, agile management and other collaborative problem-solving and team-building approaches that can lead to purposeful, fulfilling careers instead of feeling limited by a job. P.S.:  Continue to elevate your own leadership abilities because Millennials have little tolerance for poor management.

If you must offer a job instead of a career, make sure your Millennial interviewees understand how a potential job can develop transferable skillsets related to an attractive career ladder or lateral moves they co-create. Most Millennials become disengaged when you ask them to do uninteresting work (even though the work is necessary), so take extra care to explain the value of the work, both for The Greater Good and for themselves. Once explained, Millennials understand that experientially understanding various aspects of an industry can almost always provide some long-term value.

Consider emphasizing the experiences you’re offering instead of stressing money or a career ladder. Allowing Millennials to work in a variety of lateral positions often works best. Generation Ys often thrive when presiding over fluid organizations where even management jobs are not strictly defined. Many Gen Ys enjoy cross-functional roles because study after study says Millennials aren’t attracted to leadership positions.

It’s also essential to resolve related conflicts with other generations who don’t understand or agree with Millennials’ expectations / demands for accelerated growth opportunities. Both Baby Boomers and Generation Xers complain that Generation Y feels entitled to complete meaningful, purposeful work instead of whatever the organization needs in exchange for a job and a paycheck.

Additional Millennial Management Remedies Women Leaders Need

Conflicts and misunderstandings between Millennials, Baby Boomers and Gen Xers are so prolific that I continue to address this topic in other articles and recommend proven solutions. In addition, I address

  • the best ways to resolve other common Millennial Management Mistakes,
  • how to attract Millennials to leadership positions
  • and how to coach Millennials to become effective leaders.

You’ll also discover more about why women leaders tend to be most qualified to meet these challenges.

Click here to sign up for a complimentary coaching session so I can share proven solutions that will help you resolve every leadership challenge you face.

© 2019 Doris Helge, Ph.D. as interviewed on “The Today Show,” CNN and NPR. Certified Master Leadership and Executive Coach Doris Helge is author of bestselling books, including “Joy on the Job,” Doris has helped hundreds of women leaders like you meet every challenge you’re facing. Discover a multitude of proven solutions here.

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About the Author

Doris Helge

© 2019 Doris Helge, Ph.D. at Doris Helge, Ph.D., MCC is a Certified Master Executive Leadership Coach and author of bestselling books, including “Joy on the Job.” Click here now to sign up for your complimentary Leadership Coaching Consultation.

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