Getting The Most Out Of Your Millennial Workforce

Aug 11, 2017 1 Min Read



Reflect for a moment on how often you observe leaders struggling to understand, let alone engage and leverage the talents of the youngest members of the workforce. Many of the leaders I work with find the Millennial generation particularly frustrating to manage and are perplexed by how to get the best from them.

While each person in a team is unique, certain beliefs, attitudes and behaviours are common among people of each generation. Like any other generation before them, Millennials hold expectations and behave in ways unique to them. While it’s important to look well beyond stereotypes, understanding these unique characteristics is essential.  

To get the best from Millennials begin by understanding these six common characteristics. Millennials tend to:


1 Ask why.

Driven to understand why decisions are made or beliefs are held, millennials ask a lot of questions. What you are thinking and why, influence the decisions they make to buy-in and sign up for a journey. Once on board, Millennials crave information and need to be kept abreast of progress or change.


2 Want to make a meaningful contribution.

Having an impact on the world through their work is particularly important to this generation. Millennials want to know they are making a worthwhile difference and are therefore more likely to choose to work for an organisation that does something they believe is important.


3 Value freedom and autonomy.

Typically independent-minded, Millennials need to be empowered in order to thrive. Allow freedom to make decisions and autonomy to determine the best way of going about their work, and Millennials are entirely more likely to be engaged. Establishing clear boundaries within which they are free to operate is critical to achieving balance between providing the freedom they want and supervision or coaching they need.


4 Be optimistic.

Positivity is among the most endearing characteristics of the Millennial generation. Having grown up in times of dramatic change and advancement, Millennials live with the philosophy that practically anything can happen in life. They live for the moment and believe you should enjoy life while you can.


5 Want change.

Millennials are more open to change than any generation that has come before. Not only are they comfortable with change, they expect and typically want it. It’s common for Millennials to become restless and move on quickly if new opportunities fail to present. Born in the era of technology, they need constant stimulation and love to share their ideas about how things can be done differently.  


6 Expect respect and appreciation.

Feedback and acknowledgement both play key roles in keeping Millennials engaged and productive. Less materialistic than other generations, they typically respond well to being thanked with a pat on the back, and a “step up” opportunity. Bring an attitude of give and take to your relationship with Millennials and they are more likely to do the same in turn.

Managing Millennials is a challenge that demands an open minded, respectful, committed and engaging approach from leaders. Capturing both the hearts and minds of Millennials is essential to leveraging the depth of potential they bring.


Karen Gately, a founder of HR Consultancy Ryan Gately, is a leadership and people-management specialist. Karen works with leaders and HR teams to drive business results through the talent and energy of people. She is the author of The People Manager’s Toolkit: A Practical guide to getting the best from people (Wiley) and The Corporate Dojo: Driving Extraordinary Results Through Spirited People.
To connect with her, e-mail

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