5 Tips for Managing Millennials

Being born in 1980, I’m one of those individuals that is on the line between GenX and Millennials. As such, I feel I have one foot in each camp but also another foot out.

Most articles written on managing millennials seem to be written by career coaches and book authors who haven’t actually ever managed a millennial. Over the last five years, as GovLoop has grown to a team of over 25 folks, I’ve had the good fortune to lead an organization with a large amount of millennials.

As such, here are my five tips for managing millennials:

1) Provide Clarity – When I first started managing, my default was to provide tons of freedom on tasks in terms of direction, scope, and more. Over time, I found that millennials had much more appreciation when they were given a clearer assignment of what to be done and by when.  These days we provide more clarity on assignments and track status of items in a weekly priority document that is reviewed as a team.

2) Focus on the Why – GovLoop is a mission-driven organization with our goal to help government employees do their job. I’ve tried to reinforce the “why” multiple times each week whether in our weekly team meeting to our “virtual quote wall” in Slack where we share testimonials.  It’s one of those items that is easy to forget but important to do.

3) Structure Growth Opportunities – In a start-up, you are moving fast to solve problems for your users. In the beginning, most of growth opportunities were individuals stepping up to solve a problem or presenting a new idea and taking it forward. As we’ve grown, we’ve had a lot of luck when we’ve been more deliberate about structuring growth opportunities. We’ve created office impact teams focused on doing good in community that have been highly popular and given new folks leadership opportunities. As we’ve launched new projects like GovLoop Academy, we’ve been deliberate in offering those opportunities to folks looking for growth.

4) Environment Matters – Perhaps when you went to college, you were stuck sharing a dilapidated dorm and had terrible food. Nowadays, students have nice apartments, Starbucks in the library, and organic food in the dining hall. That expectation translates in the workplace – I find millennials have higher expectations and also value more the work environment. At GovLoop, we’ve invested to create a great office with standing desks, good equipment like Macbooks, lots of break rooms – and it’s paid off.

5) Provide Time to Brainstorm – Every quarter I survey our team on what worked and what didn’t and what we should do differently in the next quarter. Constantly at the top is the desire for even more brainstorming. Millennials love a chance to take a step out of the day-to-day and brainstorm new solutions to problems (even if the problems aren’t even in their department). We now have incorporated brainstorming and design thinking into more kick-offs of our projects as well as have deliberate time every quarter.

Over the next decade, millennials will be the largest demographic group in the workforce. Take time to understand how to manage them and you’ll be rewarded with a great performance from your team.

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Joe Raasch

I LOVE hearing from experienced practitioners versus consultants! The academic/theory behind a topic can be helpful, but nothing can replace real experience. My first change with the millennials on my staff will be point #1 in the article: providing clarity. Thanks Steve!