6 Keys to Developing Millennials Into Managers

Yes, you can mentor and coach Generation Y employees to assume leadership roles.

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By Patrick Proctor

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Millennials are also known as Generation Y, Generation We, the Boomerang Generation, the Peter Pan Generation, Generation Waking Up. Refer to them as you wish, but know this: Talented individuals from this generation will be leading your team in the not-so-distance future.

I know what you're thinking, Millennials as managers? Are you crazy?

Don't be so quick to judge: What those in today's workforce with more seniority seem to eagerly and fervently choose to overlook is that members of this often misunderstood and poorly appreciated generation will soon move into leadership roles that will eventually affect the supervisory landscape as never before -- in a good way.

Believe it or not, you want millennials on your team. Despite the copious amounts of disillusioning and negative press about how millennials dispaly careless ways and undedicated principles on the job, members of this generation will eventually spur change in workplace practices on a global scale.

Related: 5 'Bad' Millennial Traits That Are Actually Good for Entrepreneurs

Millennials bring a new set of habits, values and expectations to benefits, job processes and work-life balance. But there is an upside to this new thinking, too. No generation before has had as much access to technology or ability and willingness to collaborate and share ideas: You won't find one more flexible when it comes to work schedules or where tasks can be done. Millennials will work from home, in a coffee shop or on the road (and probably will prefer to do so).

Here's where the benefits of this group will eventually begin paying off for employers. Since the global community values the results of work over the process or how it is accomplished, millennials will fit nicely into the leadership landscape after the business community beomes more used to them.

The challenges lie in preparing millennials for the leadership opportunities. So roll up your sleeves and begin mentoring, coaching and modeling supervisory skills for members of this still developing and dynamic generation.

Related: 6 Tips for Managing Millennials (Whether You Find Them to be Entitled or Not)

Here are some ideas about how to begin motivating millennials in the right direction:

1. Coach millennials on independent decision-making. Although potential leaders need to know how to work in teams and understand the value of consensus (a strength of this generation), they also need to be able to make the occasional tough call. Many millennials will have to acquire this independent decision-making capability to become successful leaders.

2. Share organizational knowledge via a plan. Millennials like to know about the roles of others in their organization as well as where it is heading. Take time to update millennial supervisors on all parts of the company. Create a plan that outlines the organization's various roles as well as its objectives over several years. This will help new supervisors better understand how their role ties in to the big picture.

Related: Why the Coach Approach Beats the Manager Mentality

3. Work-life balance can exist with deadlines. Millennials don't like forcing objectives or ideas on others and achieving work-life balance is among the objectives most commonly highly ranked by members of this generation. A new millennial supervisor is not going to feel good about enforcing deadlines or extra hours on others.

A healthy and vibrant work-life balance should be the goal for a team 80 percent of the time. But emerging projects might bear unyielding and inflexible deadlines at times. Being able to enforce an unpopular timeline that may require going the extra mile (and more office hours) is key.

4. Model generational understanding and appreciation. Millennials (like others) can have a difficult time appreciating and understanding co-workers of other generations. Coaching in this regard is vital.

A millennial supervisor needs to know why baby boomers are so loyal and why Gen X-ers are driven, Further, a millennial supervisor needs to know how to motivate, look after and lead all types of people on his or her team.

Related: Millennial Managers Seen as 'Entitled'

5. Establish an appropriate level of personal and professional workplace sharing. Many millennials enjoy merging work with personal time. With such a framework, sharing with colleagues about the weekend may very well veer into overly detailed sharing. Remember, this is the share-everything generation; co-workers often are more than colleagues and friends as well. Modeling healthy boundaries for a new supervisor and encouraging them to do the same with their teams will be advantageous.

6. Clearly explain that meeting all requirements of a job description is only part of the job. As a millennial learns a new leadership role and how to work with new team members, he or she will seek out all the details and an exact direction. Your new supervisor will review the job description and anything asked that falls outside may be open for challenge. Coach this person to deftly navigate through the phases of organization's development and why they exist.

Related: 7 Damaging Myths About Customer Engagement to Promptly Discard

Patrick Proctor

Vice President of Operations, Stash Tea Co.

Patrick Proctor is vice president of operations at Stash Tea Co. in Portland, Ore., and is an experienced organizational development, HR and strategic business planning leader. He writes about workplace issues.

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