How to be a successful line manager to Millennials

I am writing about this subject, as it is a hot topic of conversation amongst my peers. By way of example, yesterday I attended a talk by Simon Sinek which was followed by a Q&A session that was dominated by questions relating to Millennial, in particular how to motivate them.

First off, let me explain that when I refer to Millennials I am meaning ‘Young Millennials' (to coin a phrase from Don’t Call Me a Millennial — I’m an Old Millennial By Jesse Singal.) I focus on those who were born around 1989 or later. They are starting out in their careers, in their early - mid twenties.

My top 4 tips incorporate key points from Simon Sinek’s video on Millennials, his answers at yesterday’s talk and my own point of view having managed many Millennials. My advice is based on primarily two insights; this group have low self-esteem (despite their bravado), they are used to instant gratification.

  1. Be clear on the agency vision and values, the time frames set against that vision and how they are going to help deliver against that vision. This gives them context, which is really important to them, a belief that they can buy into and allows them to see where they fit in to the organisation.

  2. Be open. Give them regular feedback. This comes with a warning. They may say they want feedback but what they really mean is ‘I want positive affirmations’. We therefore need to train them on how to receive constructive feedback. Also be open to receiving their feedback. Make them feel like they are being listened to.

  3. Manage their expectations. Talk about the time frame that projects and objectives will take. Millennials are an impatient bunch of people and are used to instant results. Explain that some initiatives and skill sets take time to achieve and reveal the reasons for this. Reinforce that success doesn’t always happen over night, perhaps by sharing some of your own experiences.

  4. Build their confidence. Peer to peer recognition goes a long way. Give them the platform to shine within their peer group. This could be via a monthly meeting where success stories are shared or an award, where their peers vote for the winner.

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