A Gen X Guide to Managing Millennials

They’re everywhere. Millennials- those Americans born between 1980 and 2000, are also known as Generation Y or even Generation Me. Millennials are sometimes described as an “entitlement generation”, a consequence of their perceived softness and desire to self-advocate.

Dr. Jean Twenge, author of “Generation Me: Why Today's Young Americans Are More Confident, Assertive, Entitled--and More Miserable Than Ever Before” says this about millennials:

"Today's young people have been raised to aim for the stars at a time when it is more difficult than ever to get into college, find a good job, and afford a house. Their expectations are very high just as the world is becoming more competitive, so there's a huge clash between their expectations and reality. More than any other generation in history, the children of Boomers are disappointed by what they find when they arrive at adulthood."

Millenials expect a lot. I’ve been interviewing them and working with them for several years and there are a few techniques that have been helpful to me and just might be useful for you as well:

  1. Millennials see negotiation as a right of passage.
  2. Millennials want to lead, whether they are ready or not.
  3. Millennials have a fluid understanding of corporate loyalty.
  4. Millennials are vocal and aren’t bashful about advocating for their careers.
  5. Millennials respect strong leaders.

None of these things are bad. Gen Xers (like me) have their own issues as well and probably drove Baby Boomers nuts. Still, Millennials are unique and to lead and manage them well, you’ll have to roll with the punches and learn to speak their language.

Remember that good leaders work with what they are given.  Great leaders go even further, navigating generational differences such that common goals are accomplished.

What's been your experience with Millennials at work?