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Successfully Managing Millennials: Five Tips

Properly managing millennials is a challenge for a lot of small business owners. However, with them being the largest generation in the workforce, they are not a group of employees that you can easily avoid.

While millennials in the workforce have gotten a bad rap that includes being hard to manage, over demanding, and having a poor work ethic, successfully managing millennials might be easier than you think.

Here are five tips for successfully managing millennials within your small business.


1. Set Clear Expectations

The best way to get an employee to do what you expect is to tell them what you expect.

Once you set clear guidelines, rules, and processes, communicate them clearly to the employees and make sure that they understand. If strict adherence matters, leave no room for interpretation.

For example, you want all employees to arrive by 9 am to start the workday. Saying “The normal workday goes from 9-5” is different from saying “Employees who are not in the building by 9 am are considered late.” The former could be interpreted that 9 am is the average arrival time, and that arriving a little after nine is ok. The latter helps to emphasize that arriving by 9 am is the rule.

When expectations are not met, feedback is expected.


2. Provide Frequent Feedback

Millennials want to know that they are doing a great job. Therefore, they appreciate receiving frequent feedback from their manager.

When millennials are not performing as expected, they also like the gift of feedback. Feedback gives them the opportunity to correct their behavior allowing them to receive later the positive feedback they are seeking.

When it comes to feedback, most millennials enjoy frequent, informal sessions over formal reviews. While formal reviews are still often crucial for measuring success against company goals, informal feedback tends to be timelier.

By correcting behavior as soon as you notice it, and providing positive reinforcement of expected behavior, the millennial worker starts to see their boss as more of a mentor. This tells them you care about them as an individual and not as just a worker who is there only to make you money.


3. Explain the Why

When setting expectations and providing feedback to millennials, it also helps to explain the why. For real understanding, they want to know more than what should be done and why a decision was made. They want to understand why doing things that way is essential.

Explaining the why also helps them understand what could happen if expectations are not achieved, the behavior is not corrected, or if a different decision was made.

Giving the why is also useful when providing feedback on positive behavior as it reinforces the good.


4. Be Clear on Rewards and Incentives

Millennials are often referred to as the “Trophy Generation.” This is due to receiving of a participation trophy or award for almost everything they signed up for – no matter the level of participation or the outcome of the season.

Due to this, millennials tend to have an If I do what I’m told, I will be rewarded mindset. Yes, this is not a positive trait, but it’s the reality.

Even as a small business, you should have a reward system. It could include promotions, raises, bonuses, small gifts, or even getting off early on a Friday. When you employee millennials, you need to be very clear as to what is required to receive each reward.

To be clear on rewards and incentives, you need to remember the previous points. Be 100% clear on expectations, tell them why achieving these expectations is important for both them and the company, and lastly, provide them feedback along the way. Doing so will allow them to know it they are on track to receive the reward and incentive.


5. Listen to Them

Millennials are a powerful force in the consumer market and, as mentioned, make up the largest generation in the workforce. Therefore, their opinions should matter because chances are you are selling to millennials, hiring millennials, or both.

Millennials have opinions, and they want to share them. Ask them what their suggestions are and give each one consideration before dismissing. Yes, some of their ideas might seem crazy, but there might be something that you can use baked inside.

The most important thing to remember is to tell them why you will or will not be using their ideas right now. Tying the why to your answer helps to keep them engaged in future conversations and helps them see the bigger picture.


Get the Help You Need

Managing any generation can be tricky. If you are experiencing problems with a generation, find help and recourses that can assist you.

One of my favorite books that help me understand a lot about millennials (including myself because I am a millennial, technically) is Managing the Millennials by Chip Espinoza, Mick Ukleja, and Craig Rusch.

If you are ready to dig into your situation and create a strategy to improve your skills at managing millennials, let talk. With experience managing successful teams made up of roughly 90% millennials, I can help you achieve greatness with your millennial staff.


Set up your free discovery call today.

Successfully Managing Millennials