Good Read: The Y Factor: How to Nurture Star Qualities in Millennials

Originally posted on #GovLife.

As a Millennial, I hate seeing article after article about how my generation is the <insert negative adjective here>, and how working with us is the pits. The stories and situations that are recounted do not resonate with me or even reflect my way of thinking or working. In fact, they don’t even reflect people I know.

Coming across this piece in Inc., The Y Factor: How to Nurture Star Qualities in Millennials, was refreshing. Rather than just say all the things that are wrong with multi-generational workplaces (a situation that isn’t going to disappear anytime soon, and, in fact, will be further aggravated by the eventual imbalance of Millennials vs. other generations) with no solutions, Morris provides some helpful tips for manager to help harness the energy and drive of Millennials so that they (we) can become excellent managers and leaders. The tips also help current managers improve (bonus!).

Here are how Morris thinks managers can help bring out the best in Millennials:

Effective communication

Titles aren’t indicative of skills or knowledge

Importance of delegation


Positive workplace

Funny enough, though these will help harness the talents of Millennials, they’re also important things to keep in mind, no matter how much experience you have. These five things will help change the culture that so desperately needs to be changed.

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Paul Alberti

I find it interesting the discussions we are having ref the various generations we have in the work force. I do not recall the same anxiety when I joined the workforce nearly 30 years ago. The then Greatest Generation did not seem to worry about the Baby Boomers coming into the office, we were hired and went to work; we did what we were told and hoped to one day be “in charge”.
Some of my older peers were out rioting in the streets against the Vietnam War, some were in Woodstock and some fascinated about NASA’s Apollo program. I am not sure there is really any difference in each generation and how they wish to be treated, it is just there are more ways of voicing opinions today. We could not blog or tweet, or facebook about our concerns.
I do not worry about the next generation or the ones to follow. My generation said never trust anyone over 30 – and you see where we are today – they are for the most part well adjusted, functioning adults working, raising kids, (or grandkids now).
I welcome Millennials to the workforce, come on in, have a seat, and let’s go solve some problems, meet some deadlines together! By the way, if you want to see a cheerleader for the Millennials – check out Jason Dorsey’s site jasondorsey.com. He is a very energetic and entertaining speaker.

David B. Grinberg

Awesome insights, Erin.

Perhaps agencies need to focus more on internal mentoring programs geared strictly toward millennials. I think intensive mentoring is critically important for young new hires whose work experiences in the private sector (including internships, etc.) may be the opposite of what they expect or experience in the public sector.

Then there are some out-of-the-box solutions which managers can try such as allow millennials to gain a boader supervisory perspective. What do you think about a pilot program which allows millennials to be managers for a day?

This may help the younger and older generations gain a better understanding of one another. Additionally, activities out of the office, like Happy Hour or volunteering, may help build cohesion with co-workers across generational lines.

The generational divide in the public sector workplace will only be bridged once the older and younger folks put themselves in the shoes of one another to gain a deeper understanding and broader perspective how to most effectively accomplish mission-related work priorities.

But first, Uncle Sam needs to step up efforts at recruiting more millennials to public service through work-life incentives such as telework, flexible scheduling, a results-only work environment, or whatever else may appeal to a new generation of public servants.

Recruitment and retention are the keys to long-term success in transitioning to a new generation of workers who represent the future of public service.


Erin Gee

Paul – You raise some excellent points. Perhaps Millennials are no different than previous generations, we’re just more aware of how they (we) think and feel because of technology. Rather than protesting in person, a lot of protests are online. However, what has changed is the rate at which we expect change to occur. That might lead to the assumption that Millennials are entitled.

David – I definitely agree that work needs to be done in order to attract Millennials to the public service, particularly when there’s a lot of negative press around. It’s difficult for taxpayers to distinguish between the political level and the public servant level. We can’t assume that Millennials will stick around long enough to see some of these changes through – they need to know that their concerns and desires are being heard. I actually had Senior Managers tell me recently, “I don’t understand how this RETAINS employees”. Talk about not getting it.

As for the pilot for a “manager for a day” program, that sounds super interesting. How would it differ from shadowing a manager? I think teaching people early in their careers about what it’s like to be a manager is of value. We wait far too long to train managers, often not until they’re already managing, and sometimes people go into management because they think they have to, without recognizing that they may not have the chops or skills for it.