How To Be a Great Millennial Boss
Holding regular reviews with staff to understand how they feel about work or what can be improved, can not only offer deep insight into managerial blindspots, but also build rapport between the manager and the individual
Many have labeled millennials as strawberries that are easily bruised, or as narcissistic people who have unrealistic expectations and are hard to manage.
Although there is a hint of truth to some of the “avocado toast” spiel going around, it’s largely over-enthusiastic generalization.
Millennials are not a workplace “phenomenon”. Being open-minded about styles of management and sticking to the fundamentals can reap a driven and thriving millennial team.
Here are some great things that can happen when you are working with millennials, if you approach management the right way.
Don’t Coddle, But Be Constructive
A big misconception often heard is that we need to be very careful with millennial team members because they are extremely sensitive and the process becomes cumbersome as a result.
The truth is, nobody likes to be criticized, reprimanded or told they are not doing well. Millennials are no exception. Regardless of their age, the way we deliver feedback can make a big difference.
Holding regular reviews with staff to listen and understand how they feel about work or what can be improved, can not only offer deep insight into managerial blindspots, but also build rapport between the manager and the individual.
In delivering feedback, we avoid making any personal attacks and instead focus on how issues can be resolved with processes and intention.
It’s a simple paradigm shift from: “You are not performing up to expectations” to “How can we prevent this from happening again”.
Collaboration Increases Motivation and Satisfaction
Millennials are capable, tech-savvy and have more gumption than most of us would expect. They just need to be aligned in their goals and feel like they belong at a workplace where they’ll be spending 80 per cent of their time.
Fostering a solid team culture where team members have a safe support system, identifying and tapping on the strengths of each individual and having them collaborate, is an effective way to get them to be self-motivated.
This is more effective than grilling them every other day. Nobody should come to work feeling like it’s just a game of waiting for the clock to strike before leaving.
Encouraging collaboration helps to quickly suss out leadership potential in teams, encourage complementary skills and get things done effectively. If there are any personality clashes, they typically sort out their own team dynamics without much management required and develop more affinity towards the organization as a result of their deeper relationship with the team.
Define Areas of Responsibility, But Encourage Exploration
In corporate organizations and sometimes even in smaller operations, we tend to silo functions and shoebox individuals into these roles. Executives should know what their general priorities and responsibilities are, but they may have other interests that might benefit the organization left undiscovered.
Make it a point to regularly ask and discover areas in which individuals can explore functions beyond the one they’ve been assigned to and learn from their colleagues. Learning and dabbling in something new breaks monotony and can facilitate better communication between the various roles.
Especially in smaller teams, individuals may need to wear multiple hats by default and millennials in general don’t mind dabbling a little in something new or novel.
Be Friendly, but Firm
Some managers find it unnecessary to try to connect with their millennial teams on a personal level as they feel it might be counter-productive. As a result, they tend to stone-wall their staff at a professional arm’s length, drawing a hard line between work and being friendly.
It’s more than likely that individuals in your team will spend a lot of time interacting with their managers and each other. If they can’t shoot the breeze every now and then, work can feel robotic, dull and unfulfilling. This leads to lower morale, work quality and overall motivation to come to work at all. Whether we like it or not, work has become personal.
Being accessible as a manager or superior ensures that problems are highlighted and dealt with early, and it encourages and improves interaction and overall work satisfaction. After all, nobody wants to go to work in an office full of strangers every day. You want to be fun not soft, but that can sometimes be a double edged sword if you're not careful. Getting too chummy with employees can make it difficult to assert yourself when the time comes without damaging the relationship irreparably.
My natural inclination is to be friendly and approachable with staff during instances like lunch, after work or in general when we're not so busy while actively switching gears when serious work needs to be done. This affects anything from my tone of speech, to the reduced frequency of office banter when it's crunch time.
A successful and productive millennial team starts with developing a conducive workplace that motivates them and leverages their best skills so that they can achieve what they want in their personal lives too. If you keep an open mind and keep your team motivated, you’ll be able to see drastic improvements in your organization.
Eugene Cheng, partner and creative lead at HighSpark, a strategic presentation agency that offers presentation training and strategy services to Fortune 500 companies and fundraising startups.
In 2017, he launched Motionsauce, a video messaging company that allows businesses to share their unique stories via animated video productions that drive viewers to take action.
Eugene has also expanded his repertoire to include consulting services to leading blockchain companies like Switcheo, Bolt and more. He helps them effectively communicate their unique solutions in a crowded cryptocurrency marketplace, and provides them with tools to successfully pitch their cases to investors.